Value Added Engineering – Solving Problems and Providing Cost Effective Solutions

Every day we work hard to provide value to our clients through solving problems and providing cost-effective solutions and alternatives on our client’s projects.  Whether those projects be in preconstruction or under construction, the identification of better ways to build their project is our ultimate goal and mission.

The process we use to achieve many of these cost-effective alternatives is commonly referred to in our industry as Value Engineering.  Value Engineering takes many forms and should always be viewed from the perspective of the client’s end goal of achieving an affordable solution without diminishing the quality or long term cost of a component or system within the project’s scope.  If we can achieve a more cost-effective solution to project construction or a part of the project, without changing the functionality or the overall lifetime cost including maintenance and future replacement implications, we have truly done our clients a service.

What are the best ways to identify and provide this Value Engineering service to our clients?  Let me outline a few approaches that you will find useful and pretty simple to implement.

  1. Given our knowledge base of Senior Living and Apartment construction, one should always be referencing past projects built and bid for new ideas that were used on other projects.
  2. Gaining thorough knowledge of what is being proposed on your current project is the starting point for identifying potential targets for consideration.
  3. Consult the experts on the project for what they see as drivers of cost as the project or systems are currently designed.  Our MEP & Structural trades are great resources for a multitude of ideas and they can tell you where the money is being wasted within a current design or specification.
  4. Money can typically be found within almost any site design with alternative materials, grading, and different approaches to soils issues, paving designs, etc.  These are areas where costs can be easily wasted and don’t return much value to our clients.
  5. Overly conservative structural designs that are difficult to construct, while sometimes appearing more cost effective can be more costly when the added time of construction of these systems are considered.  Always be considering schedule implications when looking at these systems.
  6.  Mechanical, electrical, low voltage and Fire protection systems are prime targets for alternative methods resulting in substantial savings.  Can systems be installed without conduit? Alternative manufacturers? Alternative lighting?
  7. Achievement of fire ratings on walls, floor/ceilings, Roof/Ceiling assemblies are all areas where there exist opportunities to typically save client money without compromising safety.  Many times, alternative methods of firewalls can be quicker to build saving time and money as well.
  8. Foundation systems should always be reviewed for simplicity of construction and timeliness to build.  The quicker we can get a project out of the ground, the faster the overall project will be built.  Trench type footings provide this alternative and while may sometimes require more concrete to construct vs a formed foundation system, they are faster and take significantly less labor.  This many times results in substantial labor savings, especially in high-cost labor markets.
  9. Most every project you will find significant money being spent in the commercial kitchen which has been designed by consultants who don’t always know the cost impacts of their equipment choices.  Our kitchen equipment suppliers can provide thousands of dollars of savings by using alternative manufacturers’ equipment.

These ideas on approaches to Value Engineering on our projects are just a few of the ways we can work in our client’s best interest to provide equivalent or even better systems while reducing project costs and sometimes timeframes of construction.

All of these make for more affordable projects causing them to be more economically viable.  Our Clients will appreciate the Value we are giving by drawing on our experience and expertise which is what they expect and need from us each and every day.

Peter Douglas, P.E.
The Douglas Company

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