Value Engineering and Early Contractor Involvement

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Value Engineering and Early Contractor Involvement

What is value engineering?

Value engineering is not simply a cost-cutting exercise, it is based on an organised effort by the project team to analyse scheme requirements and deliver these at the lowest total costs. It applies to the lifecycle of a building as much as the cost of construction (maintenance and energy use for example). 

The collaborative partnership of the project team – which often includes the client, consultant, architect, structural engineer, contractor and other professionals – looks to alternative methods of design, materials, construction methods and energy efficiency in order to achieve client objectives.

Working with a contractor

A contractor plays an integral part of a build, not least during construction stage, but also by bringing key knowledge and experience to the project team.

  • Estimating
    From the outset, the Estimating team can provide a wealth of construction cost data based on past projects that enables the contractor to provide accurate commentary early on, along with ratification of construction budgets including cost, time, quality and whole life provision through an open book approach.
  • Project Engineers
    The project engineers are then engaged at the earliest opportunity to provide a practical view on buildability issues, programming and sequencing of construction. This can often lead to time and cost savings outside of the construction budget, and avoids timely delays on site where issues have not been rectified at design stage.
  • Environmental Management
    Not all contractors will be able to offer a complete environmental assessment, but at Speller Metcalfe our Ecobuild team has become renowned in their expertise and invaluable knowledge to ensure clarification and advice on working to RIBA, BREEAM, Passivhaus, the Code for Sustainable Homes and BIM project status. They have been instrumental in many of our key projects, helping to ensure the environmental performance of any project is delivered often above and beyond expectation.
  • Supply Chain Integration
    By working with specialist sub-contractors early on, the contractor is able to harness their specialist knowledge and economise on design construction by exploring value engineering options through third party engagement.

Case Studies

Gloucestershire County Council Framework

Selection of Tier One sub-contractors has enabled an open book collaborative selection of supply chain members that bring best value rather than lowest initial cost. This enabled us to achieve Zero Defects at handover on several projects completed under the Gloucestershire Framework and up to 80% reduction in defects reported after the first 12 months of occupation saving time, disruption and cost to stakeholders. 

West Midlands Contractor Framework

A four year Framework ending in August 2014, Speller Metcalfe has worked alongside two other contractors and the Framework team to drive savings through:

  • Standardisation of Building design and component selection, leading to cost savings of 15% through repeat specification;
  • Engagement of Tier One M&E sub-contractors and employer consultants to look at issues of over-specification in building services. Departure from nominated suppliers to equal or other providers has led to cost savings of up to 20% in light fittings;
  • Sharing and engaging the views of our supply chain partners to recognise opportunities for the specification or selection of locally sourced materials;
  • Joint consultation with specialist designers to understand the merits of adopting Passivhaus standards, identifying accurately the additional cost commitments required to achieve zero carbon construction in schools.
  • Establishing BIM Level 2 workflows and protocol for standard design and cost modelling;
  • Collaborative Risk Management and Early Warning Workshops targeting an improved understanding of the obligations imposed by NEC contract conditions, highlighting issues that might affect cost plan or out-turn cost projections.


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