Gone are the days when construction projects tolerated misunderstandings and delays in the pre-pandemic era. The construction industry, particularly homebuilding, has witnessed a transformative shift in its approach to preconstruction. This change was catalyzed by the challenges posed by COVID-19, leading to a more integrated and cooperative method.

In the past, the construction manager at risk model predominated, starting with an architect’s design and gradually bringing the general contractor (GC) into the loop. This often led to a phase full of uncertainty, isolation among partners, and miscommunication. However, the pandemic-induced disruption forced a rethink of these traditional methods. As projects were halted and supply chains disrupted, designers, owners, and GCs reevaluated their strategies.
Moving from the complex bid model to a more inclusive and transparent approach marks a significant shift. This evolution has brought about earlier starts in project planning and closer, more open communication. Practices like lean construction, flow scheduling, and integrated project delivery have enhanced this cooperation, leading to shared ownership and risk. This collective approach improves relationships among stakeholders and mitigates the risks of preconstruction errors, which can lead to plan inconsistencies, inefficient material procurement, and cost overruns.

Shifting Dynamics: Faster Completion and Enhanced Collaboration

The current landscape sees a surge in client demand for faster project completion. Despite ongoing challenges like supply chain delays for essential infrastructure components, the enhanced collaboration among project teams has effectively overcome these obstacles. This collaboration is now seen as vital for expediting market delivery.
General contractors report that preconstruction collaboration now happens much earlier and with greater clarity than before. This shift has altered the philosophy of preconstruction, transitioning from a mere budgetary exercise to a continuous, real-time information exchange process. This change is not just beneficial for the clients but also sets new expectations for GCs.
In the wake of the pandemic, the preconstruction phase has significantly reduced timelines. This puts added pressure on designers and planners for precise and timely delivery. Preconstruction strategies are increasingly recognized for finding efficiencies across the design-build lifecycle despite the challenges posed by compressed timelines.

Bright Horizons: Empowering Small Builders and Remodelers

This new landscape offers hope for small business builders, remodelers, and trade companies. The emphasis on early and transparent collaboration levels the playing field, allowing smaller entities to engage more effectively in construction. They now have the opportunity to participate in more significant projects, benefit from shared knowledge and resources, and navigate the industry’s challenges with more substantial support and efficiency.
The evolving construction landscape presents a unique opportunity for small businesses to redefine their role and influence in the industry. By embracing these new collaborative models and leveraging their agility and specialized skills, they can carve a niche in an industry traditionally dominated by more prominent players.
In conclusion, the post-pandemic era in the construction industry, especially in homebuilding, is marked by a paradigm shift towards more collaborative, efficient, and inclusive practices. This transformation addresses the challenges of the past and paves the way for a brighter future, especially for small builders and remodelers. The industry stands on the cusp of an era where flexibility, cooperation, and innovation are not just buzzwords but essential pillars of success.
Additional Notes:
  • Get your team on board early. Be sure to introduce your star players before shovels are in the ground. The earlier you collaborate, the smoother the ride.
  • Communication is king (and queen). Break down silo walls and get everyone talking. Real-time data, open discussions, and shared challenges are the recipe for preconstruction success.
  • Think beyond the blueprint. Preconstruction isn’t just about drawings and budgets. It’s about anticipating problems, managing supply chain snafus, and finding creative solutions.
  • Take your time with the good stuff. A well-baked design is worth its weight in gold. Don’t sacrifice quality for speed. Take the time to get it right the first time, and your project will thank you.