Preconstruction FAQ

Preconstruction FAQ

Preconstruction services can provide owners with a formal approach for developing scope, cost, and schedule to execute capital projects. Following are frequently asked questions about the preconstruction process.  



What is preconstruction?


Traditionally, preconstruction involves performing preliminary planning and engineering in order to define the project, identify potential issues, and analyze cost impacts. O'Neal defines preconstruction as defining the project scope, schedule, and cost as early as possible with the most efficient use of resources and money. Our preconstruction efforts ultimately help the Owner determine if the project is even viable or not. If viable, preconstruction defines the scope of work enough to determine a firm cost and schedule for the project.

What does the process entail?


First, we meet with the client to determine where in the process they are of defining the project. Then we find out what their objectives are for preconstruction and what questions/issues they need to resolve. 

The O’Neal team then assesses the level of effort required to get the client to the next step of their process (described in step 1) and the level of accuracy required by the client. We’ll define the deliverables needed to get the client to the determined point and the time frame required to do so.

What are the outcomes of the preconstruction effort?


The main outcome is a firm project scope, schedule, and cost estimate for the Owner. The cost estimate depends on the level of accuracy needed by the client. The preconstruction process is useful to evaluate the constructability of the project and identify opportunities for value engineering.

We can also provide the Owner with the following deliverables:

  • Project scope
  • Execution plan
  • Risk analysis
  • Constructability review
  • Cash curve
  • Integrated Project Schedule
  • Engineering
  • Evaluations as specified by client
  • Basis of design
  • Procurement plan
  • Equipment list 
 -- Options for alternative cost-saving equipment 
-- Analysis of different equipment approaches
  • P&ID’s (piping and instrumentation diagrams)
  • Electrical 
-- Electrical loads 
-- Single-line diagram 
-- Instrument list 
-- Execution plan
  • General arrangements
  • Site plan and site evaluation
  • Evaluation of decisions to be made such as expansion/upfit versus new facility
  • Analysis of the manufacturing process and product
  • Suggestions such as manufacturing raw materials versus buying from supplier
  • Utility Diagrams

These deliverables are used in the next project phase or archived for use when the project economics are justified.

What are the primary benefits to the owner?


There are a number of benefits for the Owner. Many of our clients use our preconstruction process as the basis for their capital project appropriation process. Most importantly, the Owner has a defined basis to make an informed decision. The O’Neal preconstruction process removes many of the unknowns of a project and reduces risks for the Owner. We can also identify areas for potential cost savings. The clients we work with like to evaluate the different scenarios upfront and have a defined path to construct the project prior to funding approval.


What are the costs of a preconstruction effort?


The cost of preconstruction is typically 1% - 3% of the Total Installed Cost (TIC) of the project, depending on the complexity and amount of work needed to meet the objectives of the preConstruction effort.



How long does it take? 


Depending on the scope of the preconstruction effort, it can take anywhere from 2 to 12 weeks which is very quick considering the amount of value added to the project. 



What type of impact will preconstruction typically have on the overall final project in terms of schedule and costs compared to traditional methods?

We have seen preconstruction efforts have a significant impact on the overall project, and save the Owner significant time and money. Since we determine the cost and schedule of the project upfront; we can reduce the number of changes, unexpected costs, and variations of schedule during the project; we can identify early where possible problems will occur; and we can better identify cost savings opportunities. In addition, we also assume the cost risk once the project is funded. 



How can you guarantee costs?


We maximize our design effort and focus on critical items that will have the most impact on the cost and schedule, and then we go to the market for pricing. We don’t just rely on historical cost data. In addition, we tap into our firm’s experience and expertise working on similar projects. This experience is vital to our confidence in offering guaranteed costs. 



How does O’Neal’s preconstruction process deliver value to the customer?


The O’Neal preconstruction process defines costs, schedule, and scope for the Owner, while reducing risks. Owners are better equipped to make informed decisions about their capital investments. We are able to provide Owners with the proper documentation they need to obtain project approval and funding. Our clients regularly use the O’Neal process to help decide to go or no go on the project.



What are some examples of issues that can be resolved during the preconstruction process? 


There’s a whole range of unique issues we can address. Some of the most common include:

  • Site selection and requirements
  • Go / No Go – (Project feasibility)
  • Equipment selection (Option analysis)
  • Options for the schedule to avoid obstacles such as critical equipment deliveries, planned production, weather, holidays, etc.
  • Evaluation of utilities
  • Evaluation of soil conditions
  • Identify permitting requirements and issues early on
  • Value engineering options and building material analysis
  • Cost savings options and constructability reviews


The preconstruction process provides owners with enough information to evaluate and begin site selection.

Is there a certain size or type of project where this approach is best suited?


Historically, O’Neal has completed preconstruction for projects between $3 and $85 million TIC (Total Installed Cost). The preconstruction process is ideal for projects that aren’t well defined or projects that have complex design and functionality.



What is the difference between a preliminary design effort and preconstruction services?


Preliminary design starts at the beginning and may take design 25% to 30% down the road. With preconstruction, the focus is on the high-cost and complex aspects of the project. Preconstruction energies are focused on the items that have the biggest cost and schedule impacts.