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Value Engineering: What Is It and How Can It Benefit You and Your Next Project?

Posted by J.J. Brindley | Dec 1, 2020 9:53:52 AM

There is a lot of talk about value engineering. But what exactly is it? And how does it work in your best interests as a buyer of construction services? 

By definition, value engineering was born at General Electric during World War II. Shortages of skilled labor, raw materials, and parts forced G.E.’s Lawrence Miles—the father of what he termed “value analysis”—to look for acceptable substitutes. Miles and his team noticed that these substitutions often reduced costs, improved the product, or both.

This systematic methodology was quickly recognized as a powerful approach to problem-solving, and value engineering was adopted in many business sectors, including the construction industry. It’s a methodology championed by the team at Brindley Construction.

Value engineering is not a euphemism for “cheap.” Properly applied, it’s a process for analyzing every material and system used in a building to determine where savings can be gained, without sacrificing quality or performance. Viewing a project through the lens of value engineering requires technical knowledge and skillful analysis by the designer and builder. Benefits of short-term savings (materials and installations costs) are weighed against lifecycle costs (maintenance and replacement of materials over a building’s life).

According to industry experts, upfront construction costs account for a mere 11% of the total lifecycle costs of a building. That’s why early decisions have such a critical impact on the cost of ownership. Working together, designers and builders can share their experience and expertise to develop solutions that often result in a significant reduction of costs over the lifecycle—even if it means spending a little more at the time of construction.

This process works best when you include your contractor in the project development from the start, rather than using the traditional method of design-bid-build where the contractor is only brought to the table after the project has been fully designed. What often results with design-bid-build is that the project as it is designed simply can’t be built within the Owner’s budget. Rather than having to scrap the design and start over again (losing significant time and money), having the contractor involved from the start fosters a team approach and encourages contractor input from the start. This collaboration, along with value engineering, produces designs that can be build within the Owner’s budget and schedule.

We’ve found the greatest value can be achieved when every phase—from preliminary design and specifications to final detailing—is carefully planned, managed, and monitored to optimize time, cost and labor efficiencies. When the design-build team works together from the beginning of a project, the right materials can be specified from the start, thereby avoiding unnecessary change orders and staying on schedule.

Drawing on six decades of experience, Brindley Construction has learned to recognize smart and effective ways to manage building costs. To put this experience to work for you, contact JJ Brindley at ( 931)-424-2463 or by email at jjbrindley@brindleyco.com.

Topics: Brindley Team

Written by J.J. Brindley

J.J. joined Brindley Construction in 2013 as the assistant director of business development. He is responsible for supporting Brindley’s management on all strategic and operational marketing and customer relationship activities. He provides market feedback to Brindley’s leadership regarding competitive offerings and prospect needs, as well as generates product development ideas. J.J. is involved with the Associated Builders & Contractors of North Alabama. He served as president of the chapter’s Emerging Leaders program in 2017, for which he received the Spirit of Service Award.

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