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Owners in Construction - Expect the Unexpected

I learned early in Boy Scouts that a life motto is “Be Prepared”. Completing over 500 projects has taught me a few things, but most importantly it is to expect the unexpected. Whether it is costs beyond beliefs or the excuses I hear throughout the process, nothing is shocking. So, if there is any advice I can give an owner about to undertake a construction project it is just that….be prepared!


An unspoken fact in the process is that Owners actually contribute to a majority of the delays on a project. Whether it is design changes or delays in answering questions, Owners hold more power to effect schedule than they believe. Owners motivate the Design Team to stay on track and the Construction team with prompt funding. As minor as something may seem, one change always effects at least five other things in construction. Here’s a good example…..


Brian felt that a stairway was too dark and wanted to add a window into the corridor. Seems easy, cut a hole and put in some glass., right? Not really. See, the hallway on the other side was an egress corridor, which means it has to have fire ratings for all materials. Glass is not very fire resistant. Fire sprinklers had to be brought to the window to provide “window washers” in the event of a fire. The lights were in conflict with the sprinkler piping so they had to be moved. The lights were illuminating a piece of artwork that had to be moved, now requiring an additional light. The artwork was in a niche that had to be covered up and a new niche built. There was no blocking in the new area to hold up the artwork so this had to be added. See…..5 things added by one small change.


It is ten times more expensive to design something in the field versus on paper. In the example above, there would not be any additional costs had the window been designed into the system from the beginning. The Snowball Effect is always prevalent when designing in the field. Avoid it at all costs.


Take a little more time to plan before you start construction. Ever hear “Measure Twice, Cut Once”?


Good luck and keep your hard hat tight.


- Jonathan Moore, President of InVision Advisors


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