By Mike Lease
When I begin talking with a client who is interested in building a new practice from the ground up or a tenant improvement I try to get them to begin thinking about their budget conception. What is it they want to build and how much (in a perfect world) they want to spend to achieve their goal. Now often times they fall short on meeting their goal by desiring too much building and not enough money but it is important to identify this issue as soon as possible. Too many times we enter into the mix after an architect has designed the office with or sometimes without ever knowing the clients budget. In these scenarios the client often provides the architect with a list of “I wants” that ultimately drive up the cost of the project.
Definition: Value Engineering: The art of chopping the heart and soul out of an over designed project.
Now we have a project with a big price tag and we need to whittle it down, so we start by recreating a shopping list of “I wants” pricing and we attempt to learn what “I Wants can be eliminated and which ones absolutely need to remain in the job.
We still have not eliminated enough, so next we start looking at the specification. What has the architect placed a hard specification on in his plans? HVAC or lighting are common items. Doors or Hardware and sometimes flooring that must be used. When suppliers know that their material is being rigidly specified their pricing is not competitive. So we select optional packages that are equal to those specified.
Many times we have to look at items the client doesn’t want to give up or change. Changing or specifications from standing seam roofing to composition shingles or removing Granite in favor of plastic laminate. These changes are often painful but necessary to reduce the cost of the overall project.
My point is that it is a whole lot easier and less painful to establish the budget first and then design the project to the budget. Give the customer a shopping list of items that would increase the cost of the project and then let them decide what they absolutely need and what they cannot afford.