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Developers, Rethink Your Pre-Construction Team

GlobeSt.com | July 10, 2019 by Kelsi Maree Borland


A handful of new developments in Burlingame, California, are inspiring developers to rethink the pre-construction phase. The developer, Dewey Land Co. has brought the team of architects and builders to the table from day one on its latest project, and the collaborative approach has expedited the development process and helped to keep things on budget. Architecture firm MBH Architects, which worked on both projects, says that it recommends getting everyone in the same room as early as possible.


“Most projects start with the architect and the developer designing the project on their own and then bringing in the contractor later on,” Andres Grechi, a principal at MBH Architects, tells GlobeSt.com. “We think differently. We think the contractor, the architect and the developer need to be together at the table from day one. The key is to have the trio connected, and they need to agree what the process and the product is going to be. Everything stems from a personal level, and everyone needs to understand the rules from the beginning of the game. We need to know from day one that the project we are designing meets the developer’s needs, schedule and the budget. That is key.”


MBH Architects, Dewey Land Co. and OPI Builders have worked together on three projects in Burlingame, including its most recent, 240 Lorton, a 21,000-square-foot office building. The process is different from a standard development procedure. “The traditional set up is that we get through the design phase and then we submit the drawings to contractors and they bid on it,” Ken Lidicker, a senior associate on the project, tells GlobeSt.com. “On this project with OPI and Dewey Land Co., everyone is there from the beginning. That goes a long way to make sure that we are all on the same page and that we have streamlined the process.”


There are clear benefits to teaming up early on, but most of them result in saving both time and money—two major concerns for developers. “We save time by having this relationship,” says Lidicker. “We have clear and brutally honest communication at all time, and that has helped us a great deal to solve issues and move at a great speed.”


The idea to work as a team from the start isn’t necessarily new; however, it has become more popular as construction costs and regulations have been increased. Still, some developers are hesitant to make the transition. “This is an evolving approach,” says Grechi. “We have always thought that this was important, but we can’t convince everyone to buy into it. From the beginning, we tell our clients that everyone should be at the table. So, for us, we have tried to convince our clients to go that route. Once you have proof that the method works, you have something to show other clients.”


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