If you experience regular slippage, delays from departments, and gaps in revenue stream, you may need to overhaul your pre-construction process.
Early in my time at Red House Design Build, I spearheaded revamping our pre-construction process. Today, our revenue has improved, our processes are consistent, morale is up, and we can prepare a healthier backlog.
Identifying Someone to Spearhead Your Pre-Construction Process
I became the ideal candidate for this role because of our DISC assessment. That may surprise you—I was the marketing coordinator at the time—but you need someone with a high C (conscientiousness). This is a detail-oriented person who does not get overwhelmed by Gantt charts and spreadsheets.
Surveying the Team
We knew the significant issues, but had to learn where the problems originated. I improved the pre-construction process first by asking our team about their understanding of the process and their roles. Survey scores were very low.
Next, I sat down like a detective and interviewed everyone involved in the pre-construction process. To create a baseline, I started with the owner. I then interviewed about 10 team members, including admin, sales, estimating, and design.
I wanted to know what their role was and their understanding of the how, the when, and the why. It's important that every team member have their voice heard.
Listen to Bridget Bacon discuss improving Red House Design Build's pre-construction process:
I asked each person to walk me through their process, starting with the first thing they do. I watched for differences, similarities, repetitions, and inconsistencies. I also needed to identify the minimum time it took to complete a small project and the maximum time for a large one.
Starting the New Pre-Construction Process
After I discovered the timeframes, I then set our schedule to that maximum. The idea was to start by giving everyone more time while we work out all the bugs. We needed to get it done right before we could get it done faster. It’s about giving training wheels to your team and taking them off as you go.
In the end, I identified 250 tasks completed during the entire pre-construction process.
We discovered that a remodeling project requires supervision by one team member. This person ensures that the project follows the correct procedure, hits its milestones, and they schedule important meetings. At Red House Design Build, this is our project developer.
But in the beginning of the process, this role had too many tasks. At that time, project development was solely our owner’s responsibility. So I stepped in as another project developer and we isolated those roles.
Improving Hand-Offs and to Reduce Slippage
One of the places we found with the most slippage was estimating. We did not give our estimator enough time.
With our new pre-construction process, we have estimate hand-off meetings between the lead designer, estimator, and project developer. The project then moves into estimation for a week, and the team of three meets once more to review. This catches any slippage early and allows for more time to value-engineer a project.
This process also revealed to us that we needed to move from a two-contract system to three. Previously, we had a fixed-price contract at the end of phase one, or schematic design.
We saw clients go through selections and request lots of changes, creating scope creep, yet we had a fixed-price contract in place. Now we do a reconciled contract at the end of selections before production starts.
Ensuring Everyone Learns the Process
Once we had a new process in place, we made sure to provide people with different ways to learn it.
I had a massive spreadsheet, but also a Gantt chart in Buildertrend, checklists for each team member, and giant posters on the walls outlining the different phases. Focusing on different types of learning will help everyone absorb the information.
We stay updated and check in on previous problems through weekly pulse meetings with each department.
We revamped the pre-construction process a few years ago and have surpassed our revenue goals for the past two years. Plus, we have confidence in future predictability and the ways we can adapt our process. And our survey scores after the revamp transformed.
Nobody has issues understanding the process anymore, which is a huge win for us.