Cement vs. Concrete
Cement is often used as a synonym for concrete. But in fact, cement is only a component of concrete. Estimating is similar in that, like cement, it is only one component of preconstruction. Estimating alone does not provide the full value of preconstruction. Instead, it is the the binder – the cement – that unites the components of preconstruction.
To make concrete, the aggregate, sand, admixtures, color, and cement paste must all be carefully selected, measured, and mixed. Likewise, a building’s design, materials, and systems must be evaluated and understood in conjunction with estimating in order for the entire preconstruction effort to generate the best value.
How does a successful preconstruction team generate the best value?
First, preconstruction employs detailed technical knowledge of many different building systems and infrastructure (foundation, structural, skin, mechanical, etc.). Second, the team leverages experience-based understanding of each building system’s strengths and weaknesses, as applied to the specific project. Third, preconstruction, when done well, maximizes the budget and every square foot possible, given the Architect’s and Owner’s vision and the current construction conditions.
The practice of estimating binds all of these components together by providing the entire preconstruction effort with points of reference regarding cost, timing, and availability.
Preconstruction is like the phase of concrete in which the components are mixed together and in a fluid state.
The concrete sets, and the design becomes final, when construction documents are complete. At this point, the project transitions to construction, and the processes defined in preconstruction become the guide for the successful construction of a building.
Why does preconstruction matter?
Preconstruction matters greatly because when it is done well, it provides just as solid a path to construction success as a perfectly poured concrete foundation.