What constitutes a Viable Project? Simple. It looks and feels wonderful, it fulfills the more practical goals of the project, and most importantly, it fits the budget. You can easily have the first two, but without a sound financial plan, the whole thing just a non-starter.
Project viability happens when we have a set of plans that give us a preliminary design and costing document that that delivers a preliminary budget. Once you have this, you may keep moving forward, you may make small or significant changes in the direction of the project, or you might even put the project on hold for a while! Most importantly, you will have the ability to exit the project altogether without having spent money on deeper dives into structural engineering, the permitting process, or a thorough design process for a project that, it turns out, you won’t be building. Project viability is just the first step in any well-crafted value engineering process.
Project viability should also be phase 1 and priority 1 for the pre-construction contract, and there are 9 simple steps to get us there.
1. Conduct a Preliminary Site Visit
After signing the contract, here begins the assessment process for design possibilities, likely permitting procedures, potential structural considerations, and value engineering or costing opportunities.
2. Due Diligence
If there are any surprises waiting for us in the files at city hall, we would like to know sooner than later. We would also like to identify any previously unpermitted work that could affect the project budget, reveal easements in the title report that may drive the design process, find out what’s in front of us for permitting, etc.
3. Initial Design and Programming Meeting
This meeting takes place on site with the ALL the client stakeholders. It reviews the due diligence report, the design options for the project the client would love to have, and establishes the long term investment goals for the project.
4. 3D Site Scan and Photo Survey
We routinely Lidar scan the entire building, the grounds around the building, the neighboring structures, the street front area, as well as the spaces above and below the building with just one person in just a few hours for a single family dwelling.
5. Create the Software 3D Model of the Existing Structure
At the forefront of the 3D architectural modeling process is Autodesk. With Autodesk we are constructing three dimensional objects in a virtual environment, and for the same or less cost, we can do a thousand more things with the design process, and more importantly, our avenue to a solid budgeting and value engineering process just became a lot easier.
6. Create Preliminary Design Options Based on the Initial Design Meeting in Step 3
A copy of the 3-D model of the existing structure is created with a mouse click, and the modification process begins on that copy. The ability to place 3D cameras at any location within or outside the model, assign different finishes to any floor or countertop, create shadow studies for any day of the year, and seeing the actual view you would enjoy is just some of the astonishing experiences the folks at Autodesk have given us.
The results for this design process are revolutionary, including the client’s ability to log on and see their product as its being created, rotate it, add and remove layers, all without the designers assistance, at their own leisure, and, as part of the collaborative visioning of their own project.
We even have 3D goggles for virtual walk-throughs.
7. Meet to Review and Finalize the Preliminary Design
Meeting with clients in person or over the internet, we narrow options and explore project directions based on clear financial goals made easy in the 3D world of REVIT. Final changes can often be made during the meeting itself, and of course the financial goals to begin the budgeting and value engineering process will be made clear.
8. Create Preliminary Costing Documents
Now that we have a preliminary design, we can quickly create a preliminary budget. This document is not a static pricing product with a breakdown of 10 or 20 or 30 line items. Rather, it facilitates a dynamic value engineering process, utilizing hundreds of line items that give us tons of choices and the ability to create different scenarios with the wave of a laser pointer in the clients hands at a big screen during the final step.
9. Meet to Present the Preliminary Costing Document
This is the final step of Phase 1 of the pre-construction process, as we now have a preliminary design, a preliminary budget to go with it, and hopefully a viable project!
In this way, using these tools and our skills we are able to assess whether a project will be viable or not and by reading this, hopefully you will be able to determine viability as well! As always, questions or comments are encouraged and we are always open to a conversation to help you find your building solution.