The Builder’s Association of Eastern Ohio and Western PA

How We Slashed More Than $250,000 in Costs While Giving the Client Everything They Wanted.

When the Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) of The Builder’s Association’s 4,000-sq.-ft. office building was nearly 20 percent over the owner’s desired budget, our team at DeSalvo Construction knew we were in for a demanding project.

First and foremost, we needed to address the cost issues and maintain functionality with extensive value engineering. The time it took to address the budget dilemma jeopardized the schedule, which pushed weather-sensitive phases into a soggy Ohio autumn. Here’s how we overcame all of these challenges to finish the project under budget, ahead of schedule and with the highest quality for a true value-engineering grand slam.

We started by presenting the owner and architect with a modified approach of design-assist services in which we would provide value engineering to reduce construction costs and meet the target completion date. In this role, we identified many building elements that could be either modified, reduced or eliminated while still giving the Builder’s Association the level of quality and functionality they wanted.

Here are a few of the major changes that resulted in an overall cost reduction of more than $250,000:

  • Instead of constructing a two-story building, we utilized a slightly larger building footprint to make it a one-story structure. This change eliminated the costs of a mezzanine and complicated roof lines.
  • We modified the location and finish selections along the building envelope to reduce labor, material, and equipment costs for the building’s veneer.
  • We repositioned the building location on the owner’s property to reduce the costs of site development and associated utility infrastructure.

As part of the value engineering process, we also modified the configuration of various cold-formed metal and structural steel framing so we could install aluminum storefront systems rather than the pricier aluminum curtain wall materials originally specified. Since the building is only one story, we knew the storefront system would work well while still satisfying the owner’s and architect’s desire for natural lighting at the building’s high side walls.

All of these design changes took time, pushing the start date back from the summer of 2018 to October of that year. The rainy autumn weather had left the soil conditions unsuitable for the foundation installation and the impending winter weather threatened the parking lot and driveway construction. We decided to modify the sequencing of the job schedule and accelerate the weather-dependent phases of the job.

To avoid further delays in the foundation installation, we used premium imported fill instead of the native soils to achieve the bearing capacity required within the building pad area despite wet conditions. We also expedited construction of the parking lot and driveway so it could be finished before winter weather set in.

The last challenge we will discuss is a little more unique – the coordination of various material and equipment donations to the project. The Builder’s Association is comprised of commercial, industrial and heavy highway contractors as well as material suppliers, any many of the member companies wanted to help. In one case, vendors offered material donations that would cost more to install than other equivalent materials. We presented all the information the client needed to make informed decisions regarding project cost. Open communication with the owner and architect establishes a relationship of trust and is the best solution when faced with these types of obstacles.

Many people hear the term ‘value engineering’ and equate it to cost reduction, but the real goal is to maximize the client’s budget while maintaining or enhancing the functionality of the product. Carefully executed value engineering, performed with the owner’s best interest in mind, can make a seemingly impossible project successful.