The Crown Jewel

Chudy is quick to point out The Commons is not the only space for recreation within the village. Multiple paths link the distinct residential districts to each other, The Commons area and the commercial area. There are multiple planned districts within each quadrant, and each is designed with at least one signature park or garden–perfect for socializing or play. There also will be four neighborhood pools with gas barbecues, fireplaces, grass lawn areas, play equipment and restrooms. With approximately 1,900 of the anticipated 4,000 units built-out, not all the areas are developed.

Managing a resort-quality facility means high-end pool service with cleaning and servicing occurring five days a week. It also requires neighborhood support, realistic budgeting and financial backing.

Pre-construction Service — Saving Money, Decreasing Delays

Building a project as complex and expansive as The Club in Woodbury could have left many areas open for change orders, cost over-runs and construction delays. The Irvine Community Development Company, the developer of The Club, chose to use the services of Consolidated Contracting Services Inc. (CCS) to provide pre-construction services. In doing so, CCS saved thousands of dollars, reduced the number of change orders, and finished the project sooner than anticipated.

Brent Mathews of CCS explains the advantages of pre-construction services. Before going out to bid, a team of experts reviews the plans under several different categories, including:

Plan overlay–The construction team identifies potential conflicts and points out improvements that can be made to ease the project’s overall constructability.

Material selection and procurement–The contractor works closely with the architects for verification of design and materials that will be best suited for such high-quality projects and will meet the architect’s overall design intent. Materials with long lead times are identified and pre-ordered to be available in time for the start of construction.

Schedule and cost estimate–The team performs a comprehensive budget review to aid the owner in plans to fund such a project and give an accurate schedule and cost for completion.

All this helps to ensure that time- and money-consuming change orders are kept to a minimum.

With the Woodbury project, the team reviewed the elevations on civil plans, buildings, pools and concrete decks. A full schedule was then developed to include thousands of individual tasks and corresponding milestones. The budget was reviewed at the 50 percent- and 80 percent-completion points in design development, allowing the owner to have a tight estimate of real project costs and subsequent funding options.

“With our experience on similar projects, we know problematic areas,” says Mathews. “For example, we understood clearly the scheduled sequence of work and helped with design suggestions, including the pool heater venting, pool deck concrete design and layout, and custom precast. It helps to have a second set of eyes to prevent conflicts that, if not caught until the job is under construction, can cause delays.”

He adds, “We identified 70 or 80 items of varying significance on the Woodbury project. On a job of this magnitude, this held the change orders to just over 2-3 percent of the job. On general competitive bid jobs with no pre-construction review, it is common to have 6-8 percent of the cost in change orders, not to mention time delays,” he further explained.

As part of these pre-construction services, CCS actually constructed full-scale mock-ups of the Woodbury Recreation Center project. These mock-ups included a full-building section, decorative concrete samples, pool coping, tile and brick paver sections. Due to the replicas, the team was able to make improvements to the entry concrete color, brick-paver layout design, and the precast concrete attachment and interface with the building. These changes were incorporated into the final design and overall construction of the project, once again preventing delays if changes were made.

“Pre-construction services appear to be a new trend,” Mathews says. “The past three years have seen more interest in up-front review and more people becoming accustomed to the service.”

While this type of review typically happens on larger jobs, all projects can certainly benefit from a pre-construction review of some type.

For those considering pre-construction services on a job, Mathews has a few words of wisdom. “Make sure the contractor has experience working on the same type and size of project.” At the beginning of any project, his firm presents to the owner a team description and resumes for the individual staff involved. “Sometimes a company as a whole may not have experience on a particular type of job. At a minimum it should submit the team’s qualifications and how it can meet the needs of your job.”

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