Our Client’s Perspective

This issue we quizzed 3 of our building clients about their use of new technologies and communication tools, and find they share similar views about adding value in the design process.

At what stage of the design process can a builder add the best value? Please provide examples.

Dean Willemsen: Tender – raising RFI’s with the client in order to minimize variations and reduce costs

Rob Doust: As the builder who operates in a competitive marketplace, we need to find ‘value engineering’ options. We often see situations where design decisions have been made at the very early stages that set the design agenda down a more costly path. Early review and being part of those decisions can make a major difference and help minimize re work. After that, to provide a realistic budget for the design team to follow, and making that an important consideration for the whole design team is a simple control that is often missed.
We did a job recently where the early decision from the civil designers with regard to site levels added significant extra cost. After 6 months delay trying to find a workable solution, the decision was made to change levels and all the design needed updating. The saving amounted to in excess of $400k, but could have been more if we saved the time and cost of the rework.

Darryl Hewson: Ideally at the cost planning / feasibility stage. Value engineering is optimized once a specific brief is defined which then allows innovative, cost effective solutions to be tailored precisely to each client’s requirement. Staging of construction to address access and buildability issues is an example of this.

Have advances in architectural technology and communication helped in solving everyday on- site issues? Please provide examples.

DW: Yes – defect apps allow the list of outstanding/incomplete work to be communicated with both client and PC immediately.

RD: Commmunication – yes. Email and smart phones/tablets allow for instant review of issues both ways – from site to the consultants, and from the consultant to sites. We are even finding changes in the trend of trades using large format drawings. Many of our sites are now printing A4 ‘snap shots’ for the men on site that looks at exactly what they are building right then. Both our foreman and the tradesmen then look at it and discuss exactly what they will do. If more information is needed, they can seek advice, and then the trade heads off with everything he needs. We are finding less issues and re-work, and increased consultation on all fronts. Minimizing any re-work should be a goal for everyone. Architectural technology (and I mean BIM in particular) has a lot of potential and is starting to gain more momentum. We are excited about embracing some of these new opportunities.

DH: Yes. Again, the best results are achieved when the Architectural systems are integrated and adaptable within the building process. As stake holders in the process, the Architect and builder need to work together pragmatically when incorporating new Architectural technologies into the design.

How actively do you research new building technologies? And how do you introduce these to your clients? Please provide examples.

DW: We consider ourselves very active in the new technology adoption rate due to our young age as a business. These are introduced to our clients via consultation/demonstration, highlighting the key benefits to the building process.

RD: We like to consider ourselves young and in touch with emerging trends, but I am not sure we are as in touch as we need to be. We don’t aspire to be at the very front ‘bleeding’ edge, but we need to embrace very shortly thereafter. An open mind, being prepared to research, evaluate the risk and make informed decisions is the type of discussions we have with our teams. And it is amazing how quickly when a team tries out something a bit different or new that is successful, we can adopt that solution and it becomes more the norm.

DH: As part of the value add, we are committed to quality and economic viability. We need to keep improving our supply chains and minimize waste. Some of the new initiatives introduced to clients on a job specific basis, that demonstrate this include AFS wall systems as a substitute for pre-cast concrete where access limitations exist, light weight floor systems and ESD initiatives.

Dean Willemsen
Business Development Manager, PrimeBuild


Rob Doust
Managing Director, Mainbrace Constructions


Darryl Hewson
Director, Hewcon Group