Keyan Zandy, Lean Construction, Target Value Design

Did Your Last Project Put You in the Doghouse?

January 31, 2019

Did your last project put you “in the doghouse”? Was your building over-designed? Did you start — and finish — late due to being over budget, or needing to go through multiple value engineering exercises? Did the completed facility not quite meet the needs or expectations of you or your staff? All of the above?

Welcome to a majority of the projects delivered in the AEC industry.

Construction projects are fraught with waste: wasted time, money, and (worst of all) a wasted opportunity to get it right. The way we currently do business in the AEC industry sets most projects up for failure.

Here’s why. In traditional Design-Bid-Build projects, architects/engineers and owners spend months working together on a design — most often, with little to no input on cost or current market conditions. Once completed, the construction documents are sent to multiple general contractors, and then to the trade partners /subcontractors, who are given only a few weeks to estimate the cost.

These construction documents can contain errors, omissions, &/or ambiguities. Wanting to be competitive and have the lowest price, General Contractors and their trades avoid worrying about the intent of the drawings and price exactly what is shown, regardless if it will work or not. When they’re selected, they hash out those details and fix those issues with RFIs and Change Orders — which stretch the schedule and stress the budget. This process can also create an adversarial environment, which includes finger-pointing, blame-gaming, and back-stabbing, leaving the client feeling frustrated, deceived, or misled.

Whose fault is this?

Everyone — and no one. It’s just “the way things are done.”


Wrong. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Early involvement from all team members can alleviate almost all of these issues.

Here’s how. Contractors and trade partners are brought on board at the conception phase of the project. This allows the design team to have the advantage of engaging with and being informed by the exact same people who will be procuring and finishing-out their projects as they design, greatly reducing the need for re-work due to constructability issues.

If that team implements Target Value Design (TVD), the chance of starting late decreases, since the design team will have access to constructability and pricing information from the construction team. This allows them to design to the budget, provide an accurate estimate for the owner, remove construction delays due to budget issues, and eliminate the need for so-called “value engineering” — which is really re-designing to the budget. The net effect is that the client has a negotiated price that’s been settled in talks between all key players, instead of a “race to the bottom” price. When it’s time to build, the GC and the trades have a set of construction documents that were developed by the entire team, creating buy-in and a far greater certainty of outcome.

Sounds great, right? But it gets better. Add an integrated, cooperative environment and watch what a true project team can deliver in regards to savings, quality, and speed to market. Architects, engineers, contractors, owners, and trade partners, all working together closely — collaborating, communicating, and problem-solving — to achieve the client’s dream.

It’s a better way to build, and we know how well it works. Read this post about our 2018 Lean Congress presentation, called “From the Roots,” to see why: