Pre-construction services are tasks completed in the early stages of a project’s design before any construction has begun. These preliminary services may include budget estimates, schedule scenarios, BIM modeling, clash detection, constructability reviews and value engineering. Pre-construction services may also involve early construction planning tasks such as zoning, permitting, utility services applications and long lead building material procurement.







Most often, an architect or owner will seek pre-construction services from a general contractor or construction manager. Some general contractors and/or construction managers offer these services at an additional cost to the owner, dependent on the relationship with the owner. Others offer these services as part of their scope of work after the contract award, often in their own best interest as well as the owner’s.




By engaging a contractor early in the design process, the owner can leverage the expertise of the general contractor when the costs incurred for design changes are at their lowest and the impact on overall cost and constructability of the project are at their highest. Involving the contractor early will often give the owner and design team direct access to those who will later price and ultimately build the building. The contractor’s involvement can alleviate issues with design and construction documents, help resolve coordination issues, offer value engineering opportunities and provide the owner with a building designed with efficiencies captured upfront.


The contractor may engage trade partners for informal discussion to aid in the pre-construction process, providing them with intimate knowledge of the project and the ability to resolve issues before they become a problem in the field. These trade partners then come to the bidding process with a feeling of confidence in a better prepared set of construction documents and a better run project, thus less likely to have cost deficiencies.


For the contractor, pre-construction services can often lead to a negotiated construction contract if the services add significant benefit to the overall design process.






The design/build method provides an alternative to pre-construction services. This method of construction sources the design and construction of the project through a single source of responsibility. This delivery system can typically streamline the entire process, including reducing the design timeline, speeding construction, and reducing overall costs. The owner captures all the benefits of pre-construction services, design efficiencies and cost savings when the general contractor and design engineers have a mutual and collaborative objective that eliminates ego for betterment of the team.





Owners that remain mindful of the advantages that pre-construction services offer to their project can benefit greatly from the results of early planning— well before a shovel is placed in the ground. General contractors and/or construction managers that offer their expertise in pre-construction to owners and architects help ensure that projects run more efficiently with less cost changes.





Eric Munt has been a senior project manager with Shingobee Builders for over a year. He has over 15 years of experience in commercial construction and has managed design-build projects in many different industries including petroleum/fueling stations, convenience stores, car wash facilities, financial institutions, retail, industrial, warehouses, hotels and multi-family housing.