Alan’s notable career in construction began in 1977 after obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology Civil Engineering from New Jersey Institute of Technology. In more than 30 years, he has gained experience across many roles in the AEC industry, and he now serves as Director of Preconstruction for Winter Construction.
Q: Why is preconstruction important?
Preconstruction is not just about estimating. While estimating is a major part of it and accurately estimating costs is absolutely critical, preconstruction provides a much broader and deeper service. At Winter, we help facilitate the entire building process, from concept to site analysis and design, all the way through construction documentation. We help reduce risk, save money, and establish realistic schedules by asking key questions early in the process.
Q: What’s your approach?
We approach preconstruction as the foundation of our business and a key asset to how we bring value to our clients and their end users. We comprehensively model the entire structure and its components, level by level, to help maximize each square foot and every dollar. This helps us build the Owner’s building for the best possible return. And, we can effectively partner with Owners and Architects to create cost efficiencies and viable options for value alternatives, all while maintaining the program and the integrity of the design.
Q: What does value engineering (value alternatives) really mean?
We know that many people view “value engineering” negatively, associating it with scope reduction or dramatic alterations to the design program. However, we use the process of evaluating “value-added alternatives” to provide feasible solutions to design challenges that fit within the Owner’s budget, and still achieve the vision. Ultimately, it’s up to the Owner to make the final decision, but we are committed to presenting all suitable opportunities.
Q: What tools do you use?
I have personally developed tools that quantify space, so we can understand cost implications that save time and money and enable us to collectively make smart decisions. Additionally, we leverage structural mathematical tools and 3D visual databases that I have developed based on the many years I’ve been in construction. We visually construct a job from bottom to top, at every literal level, to depict the design narrative quickly well before construction begins. This enables us to have conversations about every aspect of a building with associated costs for each piece so there are no questions, and everyone is literally working from the same page. With this model, we can change job parameters quickly and easily determine the implications specific to the building, its functions, and the Owner’s needs.
Q: What key thing have you learned over the last 30 years?
My understanding of structural engineering comes from many years building underground subway stations all the way to 50-story high-rise buildings. Successful preconstruction depends on knowing what’s underneath a building and how to stabilize its foundation without compromising adjacent properties and structures. Preconstruction takes away the guesswork in building from the ground up.
Q: What is the one thing people should know about preconstruction?
When done well, preconstruction protects Owners and Architects with solutions to inevitable challenges. Preconstruction enables us, as the Construction Manager, to advocate on the Owner’s behalf, maintain the program, and achieve the goals and vision. The value of Preconstruction at Winter (and there are very few who do it well) is that we create the opportunity for everyone to collaborate on, and visualize, details of the building before breaking ground so that costs remain reasonable and expectations are satisfied.