Success from the start: Q&A with Howes of Delphi Construction

June 01, 2018 - Owners Developers & Managers
Tom Howes, 
Delphi Construction

Tom Howes, director of business development for Delphi Construction provides some key insights into achieving success from the start in the Q& A sessions below:

Q: What is your role in the pre-construction process with the design team and owner?

A: At Delphi we take a team approach to our projects from the pre-construction phase right through the bidding and construction process. We like to combine the efforts of our business development with project development and estimating so the client and their project get all the attention they deserve. With my 35 years experience in construction I am another resource to our project development team in working on pre-construction assignments with clients.

Q: How soon is too soon to bring in a construction manager?

A: The simple answer to that question is that it’s never too soon to seek pre-construction services. Moreover, there is probably nobody better to provide those services than a construction manager with real world experience building similar projects in the project area. Not long ago, the owner team would often work independently, waiting until they had finished designs on hand and then putting them out to GC’s to bid, or perhaps to an estimating firm to price. Most have discovered that this approach can be highly inefficient and rife with potential for failure to meet important cost goals. It is much more beneficial to have a construction partner at the table from the earliest phases. One who understand the client’s goals, business program, and budget limitations. One who can bring a constructability/cost perspective, help the team maximize efficiencies, overcome obstacles and reach a successful outcome.

Q: What types of special pre-construction services can a construction company provide?

A: A small point of clarification: not every general contractor is able to offer a full suite of specialized pre-construction services. You are most likely to find these from builders who consider themselves to be construction managers as well. Delphi would be one of those, there are several other well-known companies working in the space as well. Speaking for Delphi, we are able to come alongside as part of the team to offer detailed estimating and budgeting throughout all phases of design, as well as rigorous constructability assessments, cost savings strategies and solutions, comprehensive phasing and logistics plans and more.

Q: Why not simply use an independent estimator?

A: I certainly don’t want to diminish the value of the work of any professional estimator but there is much more to consider in project development than just estimating the cost of the bricks and sticks. Things like site or constructability challenges, material costs trends, projected labor availability etc. These may not even be considered when producing a simple estimate but they can all dramatically affect real costs and threaten the viability of the project itself when it goes out to bid. By bringing a construction manager in to work as part of the team from the beginning, we can work together to make sure everything is on track and progressing towards a comprehensive, accurate and optimized budget to ensure a successful outcome. Working as a team, we can identify and avoid potential pitfalls ahead of time, apply construction expertise and adapt the plan before it progresses too far in a wrong direction.

Q: Does the construction manager providing pre-con services need to be the one that builds the project?

A: No. At least not with Delphi. We are able to offer these services to clients and architects whether the award process leads to a negotiated contract or a select bid list. Delphi may be a bit unusual in that we are a construction manager that got its start on the OPM (owner project manager) side of the business. That “client first” mentality is still very much embedded in our DNA. Our goal is to make sure the client has a successful final product regardless of whether we are the ones to build it. 

Often times, as a result of the work we provide and the relationship that is developed during pre-construction, the client will choose to negotiate a contract with us or perhaps even convert to a GMP contract approach with our True Open Book Framework™. But even If the client does choose to go out to bid to other GC’s, we always feel very confident that with the detailed information we have helped develop, we will be very competitive against invited bidders. 

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