Preconstruction is a phase that can make or break the success of your construction project.
If you fail to identify issues with the construction site ahead of time, miscalculate the cost of resources needed for the project, or miss the mark on planning and communication, issues are bound to ensue.
However, with the right software solutions, you can easily mitigate these issues and bring the preconstruction phase to another level with each project you take on.
And if you’re wondering what those solutions are, we are here to present you with 5 types of software that are going to make preconstruction a breeze.
In this article...
Site Analysis Software
Before you start making a mental list of all the equipment you’re going to need for your next project, you need to get a comprehensive insight into the condition of the construction site itself.
- Is the size of the site appropriate for the project?
- Is it accessible for equipment?
- What are the soil conditions like?
- What zoning regulations and building codes do we need to take into account?
All of these important questions need to be answered during site analysis in order to establish whether the project is feasible in the first place.
Given that every site is unique and has a variety of factors that can affect the construction process, site analysis can get complex.
This is where site analysis software solutions come in.
Their job is to help you collect and analyze construction site data, thus making it possible for you and your team to accurately plan and, ultimately, successfully execute the construction project.
Joe Hanauer, landscape architect and owner of Landscape Architecture, LLC, highlights that for him, a GPS surveyor is the most accurate site analysis solution.
He outlines several key advantages of this kind of tool:
GPS surveyors often integrate with GIS, or Geographic Information Systems.
While GPS surveyors can provide your construction team with accurate, real-time geographical coordinates and data regarding the features of the construction site, GIS software interprets and turns this data into visuals like maps or 3D models.
Additionally, GIS software solutions can significantly enhance communication and collaboration with your clients, explains Bryan Tolcser, a GIS specialist.
The visuals produced by GIS software can help your clients understand what the spatial aspects of the project are.
Once they have access to this information, they can make data-driven decisions when reviewing the proposed layouts and designs, thus making sure the project moves forward as planned and in accordance with regulations.
So, if you want to help both your construction team and your clients get a lay of the land ahead of time and ensure the success of your project, consider investing in site analysis tools.
Design Coordination Software
When it comes to visualization of the project in the preconstruction phase, design coordination software is another tool indispensable to all the stakeholders involved.
Tools such as the increasingly popular BIM software aim to provide everyone involved in the construction project—from construction and managers to architects and clients—with accurate data and a 3D visual representation of the project.
This enhances the planning of the project, facilitates better collaboration among stakeholders, and helps with design coordination.
The 3D digital representation of the construction project facilitated by BIM is going to help you and the stakeholders not only visualize, but also coordinate various components of the design in order to achieve optimal results.
For instance, many BIM software solutions allow for integration with clash detection tools.
Such tools have the ability to identify conflicts among various design elements, from electrical conduits overlapping with beams, to structural columns conflicting with architectural features.
Given that multiple stakeholders from different disciplines are involved in the project, it is not surprising that clashes occur.
Namely, MEP engineers, architects, and structural engineers first develop their own individual models.
Then, these models are consolidated into a singular BIM model, which is likely to cause overlaps and clashes that need to be detected and resolved.
BIM Manager Dennis McNeal advises checking for clashes early on in the preconstruction phase.
With the help of BIM and clash detection tools, clashes that can turn into a costly problem if they get identified too late in the process can easily be nipped in the bud.
Therefore, make the preconstruction stage easier for all of the stakeholders by looking into software that is going to help you detect issues early on and ensure everyone involved in the design process is on the same page.
Cost Estimating Software
Once you’ve set the foundation for your project with the help of site analysis and design coordination tools, it is time to start estimating what the project costs are going to look like.
This task goes beyond simply telling your client, “We’ll need X amount of money to complete this project for you.”
The cost-estimating step of the preconstruction phase will require a transparent breakdown of each individual aspect of the project.
Trying to manually keep track of all of it can get quite time-consuming, which is why you might want to consider investing in cost-estimating software.
This type of software is designed to streamline the process of estimating construction costs by automating calculations and allowing users to accurately predict the cost of labor, materials, and equipment.
That way, construction estimators can spend less time and effort focusing on tasks that can be automated.
Jay Sanders, CEO of Castle Dream Construction, explains that this kind of software solution is indispensable for construction professionals, as it helps improve efficiency and reduce both errors and project costs.
When using cost estimating software, you don’t have to rely solely on your previous experience or worry about whether you’ve over- or underestimated the cost of materials or labor.
Nowadays, cost-estimating software solutions often feature regularly updated databases containing information about labor, equipment, and material costs.
These databases are based on industry standards and reflect current market prices and labor rates, thus allowing your estimators to quickly create competitive, yet profitable bids.
A quantity takeoff is a list of all the physical materials necessary to complete a job and their costs. ‘Takeoff’ refers to taking information off blueprints, drawings, or models and ‘quantity’ refers to the amount of materials.
To perform quantity takeoffs, all your construction estimators need to do is load blueprints and drawings onto the estimating software.
Then, they are provided with a detailed breakdown of the quantities of each material required to complete the project.
This, in turn, helps them make fact-based decisions about how to allocate resources and ensure the project gets completed within the discussed budget.
As you can see, cost estimating software solutions come with a number of features designed to make the important task of cost estimation easier, so don’t underestimate the role they could play in preconstruction.
Bidding Management Software
Bidding tends to involve a considerable amount of paperwork in order to maintain transparency and ensure all the legal requirements and regulations that come with construction projects are met.
So, the last thing you want is to lose an important document in a sea of bid-related folders, waste time and resources submitting the bids personally, or inadvertently relay outdated bid information to other stakeholders.
And those are only some of the challenges that a modern bidding management solution can help you overcome.
The purpose of bid management software is to help you streamline the construction project bidding process every step of the way—from bid solicitation to construction contract formation.
For starters, this kind of software serves as a centralized platform for storing all of your bid-related documentation in one location that is accessible to all relevant stakeholders.
This prevents the creation of data silos and ensures that everyone involved has immediate access to the latest updates concerning the bid.
Below is an example of what this can look like in practice.
As you can see, bidding management software like this can provide you and your team with a comprehensive overview of your bidding efforts and enable a seamless flow of information between everyone involved.
For instance, your estimators can use the bidding management software and the cost estimating software in tandem in order to prepare a bid that is competitive and accurate.
Then, project managers can provide their input and suggest improvements before your legal and finance teams review the bid and give it their stamp of approval.
With bid management software, task handover flows from one stakeholder to another, as everyone has access to the most recent versions of bid documentation at all times.
That way, you can confidently submit your bids and easily win the best construction projects.
Project Management Software
Finally, we need to talk about the software you and your team are going to use from the initial stages of each construction project to their very end—project management software.
This all-around software is essential for the preconstruction phase, as it allows you to plan tasks, assign responsibilities, and enhance communication and collaboration early on.
According to a study conducted by Cornerstone Projects Ltd, a shocking 91% of the respondents expressed that they had been involved in a delayed construction project over the past several years.
On top of that, over a quarter of them cited poor and unrealistic planning as the reason for suffering delays.
This data tells us that construction project planning rarely ever goes completely smoothly, so you’ll probably have to make changes multiple times throughout the preconstruction phase.
This task becomes much less daunting if you choose to make a project management tool a part of your software lineup from day one.
Capable NZ facilitator in construction, Dr. Don Samarasinghe, explains:
Simply put, project management software is there to help you stay prepared and on track no matter what unforeseen circumstances pop up.
Namely, with the help of a project management solution, you can create project timelines, budgets, and preliminary schedules which you can then easily adapt as needed.
And since project management software facilitates real-time communication and collaboration, it becomes easier to communicate these changes to your team members.
That way, you’re making sure that everyone is up to date on what needs to be done and feels empowered to take responsibility for their tasks.
This high level of organization and collaboration is the foundation of every successful construction project, and a good project management solution will help you build it.
The preconstruction phase of every project you take on is going to require a lot of effort.
Making sure that the construction site is suitable for the project, preventing design clashes, estimating labor and material costs, and developing competitive construction bids, all while collaborating with multiple stakeholders can quickly get very overwhelming.
However, juggling all of these important tasks gets much more manageable if you utilize the power of software solutions we presented in this article.
We hope that our insights inspired you to look into these tools and make the preconstruction phase easier on yourself and your team.