The effect of preconstruction planning on project outcomes


The success of every construction project begins with a thoughtful plan and clear, concise communication. By getting project participants involved early on and developing a strong foundation during preconstruction, contractors can anticipate issues well in advance — leading to fewer problems, fewer delays, and happier clients.

But apart from anecdotal evidence, we wanted to know: in concrete numbers, exactly how much does preconstruction planning impact the outcome of a project? Here’s what we found based on some of the most recent studies.

Increasing efficiency and staying on schedule

According to a study by The World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology (WASET), the ratio of the amount of time spent on preconstruction planning has a negative correlation with the project schedule — meaning that the longer you spend planning, the fewer days you spend building.

For example, when projects averaged 30% more than the average length of preconstruction service, the construction schedule decreased proportionally. This is because in-depth planning both increases the overall efficiency of your build and helps crews avoid delays during the construction process.

Avoiding budget overruns and increasing margins

At the end of the day, contractors want to make money, and one of the biggest areas preconstruction planning impacts is the bottom line. Most cost savings are identified during the design and preconstruction phase, so it makes sense that effective preconstruction planning would help contractors avoid potential budget overruns down the road.

However, the impact of preconstruction actually goes far beyond that. In one study by the Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, researchers discovered that sheet metal contractors who followed a prescribed, in-depth preconstruction process achieved an average profit margin of 23%, while projects that were poorly planned experienced an average profit margin of −3%. Though these numbers will vary among contractors and projects, a contractor’s chance for positive margins substantially increases when they prioritizing planning and communication from the very beginning.

Fostering long-term client loyalty

A thorough preconstruction phase is a major factor when it comes to achieving high client satisfaction. The WASET also studied the correlation between depth of preconstruction planning and Net Promoter Score — a common 1-10 measurement of customer satisfaction — after project completion.

They found that scores were directly affected by the duration of preconstruction planning. About 9.3 months of preconstruction service was provided for promoters (those who scored 9 or above). On the flip side, only 2.7 months of preconstruction service was provided for detractors (those who scored 6 or below).

Knowing how much preconstruction impacts the success of projects, is your company investing enough time, manpower, and resources into this critical planning phase? Get in touch to learn how BuildingConnected can help amp up your efficiency and increase margins during preconstruction.


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