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VE: The Dirty Letters of the Construction Industry

While value engineering (VE) in construction is meant to provide more value to an owner by either improving the function of building materials or reducing their costs, the term VE often brings a sense of frustration and uncertainty and creates a strenuous relationship between all the participants on a project.

So, how can we change the negative associations with VE, and why is it so important to do right now?

How Value Engineering Affects Design and Construction Trades

Because value engineering can disrupt the traditional design and construction process, it’s easy to see how the different parties involved in a construction project can get frustrated. Each participant on a project has a plan for how it will be designed and built – when VE changes happen later on, it can create a hitch in those plans.

If you're reading this, you're probably no stranger to value engineering and are all too familiar with scenarios like these:

  • Developers of projects change scope, and wait unnecessarily while their ideas get re-designed
  • Architects see their original vision disappear and struggle to come up with solutions that meet budgets
  • General contractors struggle to build projects as designed for the agreed price
  • Subcontractors are pushed to their limits, logistically and financially to complete projects

But what if we thought about VE as something that happened earlier in the process so it provided value, but didn’t cause disruptive changes? What if VE meant something completely different, such as Very Efficient, or even Visionary Excellence?

Rethinking VE in Design and Construction

Rather than using VE to substitute materials during construction and cause architects to make trade-offs in their designs, architects can involve material suppliers early on. By doing so, suppliers can help deliver the vision of the architect from the onset with products and techniques that change the way structures are designed and built.

The potential value of the material supplier is often overlooked. A leading manufacturer always has its eyes on new technologies, current market trends, and pricing expectations. Most importantly, they are always watching for demand constraints that could rear their ugly heads during construction.

Early manufacturer involvement during design gives the developers, architects, GC/CM, and subs unique tools to drive Visionary Excellence, which in turn makes the structures Very Efficient. Bringing a material supplier to the table early is often not the norm... but with all the benefits to all parties, why not do something completely different?

Early Supplier Involvement Increases Quality and Reduces Waste

Take a look at the use of pre-fabricated structures and building components that reduce on-site labor and logistic nightmares, increase construction speed, and deliver a repetitious, high quality product. This would be impossible to achieve with standard construction methods. These tactics require early coordination with a material supplier, but they can have cascading benefits throughout the project – from achieving the architect’s original design, to the owner’s desired quality, to meeting or exceeding the contractor’s schedule.

Another challenge on construction projects, and a reason to resort to VE solutions later on, is waste. Waste is created throughout the life cycle of the project – but it can be reduced by starting with the material manufacturer.

Manufacturers can work with the designers and contractors to provide materials designed specifically for each project: from cutting 1/8 of an inch from an opening in order to yield another piece of glass, to exact stud lengths to minimize cutting and trash on the job site. It all equals waste and all the parties are paying for it one way or another.

Visionary Excellence in Construction

It is time to change the meaning of VE. It is time to change our industry. The tools are there, and we can’t continue to repeat our mistakes and expect a different outcome. A company like Building Solutions provides very efficient materials and visionary excellence through design experts, material gurus and unique product solutions.

It is never too early to collaborate on projects, and it is never too late to change the meaning of those two letters. Let's make VE a positive, and turn it into the leading force behind Visionary ExcellenceReach out to your material supplier as early as humanly possible and see how, together, we can shift the way projects are being designed and built.

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