Preconstruction: A Changing Landscape

This article is included in the Fall/Winter 2009 edition of the DPR Newsletter.

New Tools and Collaborative Methodologies Provide Ability to Make Better Decisions Earlier, Enhancing Efficiency, Value and Predictability

“Well begun is half done.” – Aristotle

A profound shift is happening. The widespread adoption of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) and Building Information Modeling (BIM), especially when combined with Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) and lean practices, have created a “new world order” in the delivery of capital projects.

Traditionally, the role of a general contractor during preconstruction has been somewhat reactive, analyzing and reporting back based on initial design. DPR has always strived to provide proactive preconstruction services, and in this new world, we are playing a much deeper role. We are providing inputs and helping to manage the process for even better, more predictable results. We are supplying teams with the information needed to make smarter decisions earlier, and through the use of new technology and processes, combined with experience, we are able to enhance efficiency and drive greater value for our customers. Following are some specific examples:


As a leader in sustainability, our responsibility is to help customers and project teams make the most informed green choices, balancing long-term business objectives with more immediate project goals. To evaluate which LEED credits offer the best return on investment and LEED certification achievement, we have developed a LEED project analysis and management application called DPR greenBook. DPR greenBook allows owners and teams to review multiple “what-if” scenarios during the earliest stages of a project, even prior to the start of design. Powered by practical applications and historical project information, DPR greenBook provides the data required to make decisions on a credit-by-credit basis, based on the expected lifespan of the facility, desired payback period, and/or cash flow requirements.


DPR has also been breaking new ground in model-based cost estimating, integrating object attributes from the designer’s 3D model with cost information from the estimator’s database. For example, during preconstruction of the Sutter Medical Center Castro Valley hospital project, the IPD team established a rapid, repetitive and consistent mechanism for evaluating design against budget and target values of the client. Although BIM played an integral role, it was really the approach developed— beginning with incorporating design changes in the 3D model to updating cost status of design due to the changes—that reduced the cost feedback cycle from a traditional eight weeks to three weeks. This process helped the IPD team shave $20 million from the estimated cost during design to arrive at the target cost of $320 million for the project.


Tools and processes are only as effective as the people driving them. Today’s preconstruction leaders must possess a wide range of skills, from estimating conceptually to facilitating green charrettes, working with BIM, and steering design management. As a result, we have made a significant investment in DPR’s training and development program, particularly in the areas of sustainability and BIM, and recently received a 2009 BEST Award from the American Society for Training and Development from among 39 organizations for our industry leading results.

A profound shift is happening. Preconstruction has evolved to include game-changers, such as green, BIM, lean and IPD—all proven to further enhance efficiency and predictability on projects. This shift also requires a more detailed approach to the building of a project from day one to achieve the greatest end result. Experience is essential. At DPR, we have invested in the right technology tools, processes and training to make sure our teams are well equipped for navigating the changing landscape of preconstruction and leading the charge for delivering higher quality and greater value.

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