The key to faster completion is a team that’s as good at communicating as it is at design and construction
Fast-track construction is a method in which construction begins on a portion of the design that’s been completed, even before the rest of it is underway. It’s favored by design-build firms and their clients because it speeds up the process. Efficiencies are generated, tenants move in faster, and revenue starts to flow.
There’s a difference between rushing and accelerating things, however. And this disparity creates the pros and cons of choosing fast-track project delivery. Correct execution rewards you and the design-build team with a shorter construction schedule. Done wrong, it can be a punishing experience of cost overruns and missed deadlines.
An alignment of objectives
There’s one main reason owners who want to fast-track projects seek out design-build firms: they have a core philosophy that fits perfectly with the process. A full design-build firm has a team of in-house designers and builders who work closely on every phase of the build. The project doesn’t wait for a start date based on a completed and approved overall design; construction begins as soon as there’s sufficient design for the contractor to put a crew on and start building.
This philosophy can pay off in the form of cost savings. Pricing is less subject to market increases and overall costs can be less because the construction schedule is compressed. In addition, ROI is accelerated when commercial projects are built faster and revenue comes in at an earlier date.
Better than good chemistry
You always want to have a good relationship with your designer and contractor. But when it comes to fast-track projects, it has to be better than good. There must be a high level of trust for decisions to be made quickly. And there has to be constant feedback, so the fluid schedule can be adjusted when necessary.
The level of communication needs to be superb. There’s little or no time to compensate for breakdowns in passing along information because the safety cushion has been removed. Designers don’t get a punch list for a complete design, and it’s possible that some of what they design will be built before they’ve completed the entire building.
Flexibility isn’t a luxury
Fast-track design projects can generate more change orders than other methods of building because things are being designed and built out of sequence. That’s not a comfortable place for some people. It’s why owners tend to favor working with full-service design-build firms – especially ones that have a number of fast-track projects under their belt.
The late release of design documents might mean just-in-time pricing for material, but there will likely be many incremental changes. If those changes are not coordinated, the cost overruns will eat up any savings benefits. Even worse, the fast-track project will miss the completion deadline.
It’s all in the scheduling
The first rule of fast-track design is that the schedule drives all decisions. Designers have to be comfortable with short windows in which to make design considerations. Contractors must be prepared to quickly engage vendors and workers. It’s all determined by a master schedule that includes:
- Design deliverable dates
- Permit review periods and deadlines
- Procurement lead times and deadlines
- Construction durations
The contractor will act on these deadlines, and sometimes there will be little or no design information available. It’s another reason why fast-track projects aren’t a good idea for uninitiated firms.
The right fit for fast-track
Projects with proven prototype building designs work well with the fast-track approach. The design can be adapted to the site and permitting, approvals, and construction time are easier to determine. Most prototypical commercial building designs are flexible enough to adapt to size and site restrictions.
Less is more
Fast-track isn’t always the right choice if a build requires many custom, last-minute elements and mid-process design tweaks. What keeps accelerated projects on track is the agreement upfront that changes are to be avoided unless they’re critical requirements.
When the work is authorized, it’s time to get it done. Everybody has to be on board early in the design process. You’ll even make a few design decisions based on something practically unheard of in other types of construction projects:
“Can we do that post-occupancy?”
Looking for professionals who have a successful fast-track project record? Contact Telesco Construction at 305.390.0250, or send us an email. We are a full-service design-build firm that provides every component of each project in house, without the need for separate entities, vendors or contracts. Our unique “all under one roof” business model means that you get a diverse and highly-skilled team dedicated to delivering exactly what you envision, without headaches, overruns, and the management of multiple contractors.