Three ways you can be cost-effective early in a building project

Taking on a new building project can be daunting, not to mention complicated. What’s the biggest thing on your mind at the start? If the first word that popped into your head is money, you’re not alone. As a project gets off the ground, budget is always the elephant in the room. Teams need to discuss finances openly but are often challenged by competing interests that drive budgetary decisions.

To be successful with a building project’s budget, being cost-effective is the way to go. Cost-effectiveness really just means delivering good value and results relative to the amount of money spent. Now, it’s easy to confuse cost effectiveness with “cheap.” Many people think that taking cost-effective measures means cutting corners, but that’s simply not true.

Here are three major things you can do early on to ensure your building project saves money and have truly incredible results.

1. Develop a strong client and architect partnership

Not enough can be said about how important relationship between an architect and a client is. Just like any relationship, this one requires clear communication from the onset. To start building an effective partnership, keep in mind your goals for the project and your business overall. What do you hope to achieve with this building? What kind of value will this endeavor bring to your company? All parties need to be upfront about their own interests from the get-go. If you’re not, you run the risk of things falling apart.

Keeping the lines of communication open throughout all phases of a project is great, but it’s particularly crucial in the early design phase. Why? Because successful partnerships and balanced budgets are all about managing expectations. You can’t very well have a near-complete project with an unsatisfactory or high-cost element and look back and say, “I wish I had said something 12 months ago.” It’s going to be too late and too expensive to make major changes that late in the game. Chances are pretty good that if you had said something, you would have come to an affordable, agreeable way to move forward.

2. Use cutting edge technology

And speaking of moving forward, perhaps the most overlooked way you can be cost-effective early in design is by enlisting the aid of advanced technology. Today, less than 5% of building projects are using simulation software, and that’s just a shame. There are riches to be had by using artificially intelligent tools to assist with your project’s design and configuration. And by riches, we really mean savings.

While it may be an up-front investment, employing this type of tech has long-term payoff. Algorithms used in cloud-based programs are based on years of research and precedents. By evaluating your 3D models and specific requirements, they make recommendations for a configuration that may save you up to 30% over the course of a building lifecycle.

3. Choose materials and systems that will yield long term savings

Utilizing technology will help you with the defining aspects of the early design phase—planning for the program, layout, and aesthetic qualities of a building. But the early design phase also includes preliminary decisions about materials and systems. That’s a huge opportunity to be cost-effective in a truly actionable way.

Choosing cost-effective materials and systems is really about the long game. Sure, it may be easy to head to a materials library and pick out the cheapest or easiest-to-find sheeting or glass products that match your specs but taking more time to figure out which ones will yield long-term savings is necessary. Cost-effective materials are ones that can accommodate unique qualities of your climate and geography and have proven track records of being healthy, safe, durable, and long-lasting.

When it comes to building systems, you may believe that you don’t have to give much thought to HVAC, plumbing, and electrical early in design, but that’s dangerous water to tread. Consider this: you choose to a system that doesn’t incorporate your high-level goals for occupant comfort, sustainability, or energy-efficiency. Just think about how quickly you may have to adjust or replace it. Less than two years after a project completion, you’re spending more money fixing a problem you could have avoided. Spending the time upfront to select and plan for systems that meet your goals is one of the most sure-fire ways to be cost-effective early in design.