With Audio Visual (AV) and Home Automation packages, Value Engineering exercises are typically product driven.
If you want to reduce costs with AV & Home Automation the easy option is to focus on product specification – if the budget is X we don’t propose a system that suits Y. Being up front with budgeting is very important and in this way, solutions can be planned to optimise your schemes.
The earlier we’re involved in a project the better. It is incredibly important to understand the end-users desired use of a room as this helps us deliver the right product to their budget.
In terms of Value Engineering construction specific solutions, our approach is to be proactive and plenty of forethought is used in order to reduce, not just site installation costs, but also potential costs driven from the risk of damage to expensive equipment on site. We work with luxurious kit and damage to materials can be disastrous for project budgets.
For us, sequencing is therefore hugely important.
AV and Home Automation works generally commence at the end of the site works and therefore, it’s almost always on the critical path. It is for this reason that we focus on two key issues when planning project installations:
- Manufacture and test materials off-site where possible; and,
- Regularly coordinate with and spot-test the Electrical Contractor’s installation
The two main risks on site are damage to materials and poor coordination, which leads to Non-Conformance Reports and delays on site – all of which come at a cost and time implication during a period when the project simply cannot afford it.
Off-site production and vesting materials
If we were to give one single piece of advice to a Project Manager of Quantity Surveyor procuring an AV and/or Home Automation package it would be to vest and build materials Off-Site.
If you allow the Subcontractor to programme, test and semi-commission the equipment off-site in a controlled environment, not only do you improve the quality of the installation, but you also introduce other advantages:
- Reduced chance of damage on site;
- Reduced chance of delays on site if materials are missing during your installation, when in a factory they can be found instantly; and,
- Reduced on-site commissioning period as the units are pre-tested and simply installed on site.
To deliver these benefits to your project, you must be prepared to Vest materials off site as it brings with it multiple advantages and potentially zero drawbacks – if you can convince your client of the benefits (these are clear as stated above), they should support you in the valuation of materials vested in their ownership to the benefit of the project.
Coordination and Spot-Checking
In addition to Off-Site manufacture, coordination with the electrical contractor is key. Electricians are almost always on site prior to us and they run cabling on our behalf. What we do is colour code wiring to match drawings and reduce errors, but also, we arrange coordination meetings and spot-check their works regularly.
It sounds simple but if you’re creating coordination meetings and spot-checking installation while at the same time, manufacturing, testing and commissioning equipment off-site, the chances are that your installation will be problem free and Practical Completion will be achieved with ease.
While on the face of it, neither of these solutions are Value Engineering in a traditional sense, both are intelligent management solutions to a high-risk installation.
Well-considered sequencing and off-site manufacture will save you time and therefore, money. Preliminaries are incredibly expensive and so are damages for delays – we can reduce site durations significantly with this approach.
In summary, from the outset, consider Off-Site Production and Testing, it will save you huge amounts and assist in the delivery of a less-complicated Practical Completion.