Written by Greg Kerkstra, President & CEO
We have been learning a lot over the years on how to participate in design build and design assist project delivery. We have had many successes over the years and we have had some learning experiences as well. So much of it starts early and it starts with the expectations and communications of the design team.
What does design assist mean anyway?
Our definition of design assist: being engaged early in a partnership, while the design team is working in the schematic design phase or earlier.
Kerkstra Precast is on the design team as the structural precast partner of choice, or specialty engineer. We work to develop the structural drawings in partnership with the structural engineer of record and provide the structural sheets required as the design process continues. The goal of these efforts is to utilize the precast drawings, in conjunction with the other structural drawings, to submit for a permit. During the permit review our internal team works on the procurement of the materials, piece ticket drawings, and may even start production of long lead items.
During the assist process we constantly communicate costs and work closely with the rest of the design team to provide value added solutions. We add input to help reduce costs in all areas while looking and listening to find value to the client.
What makes a design assist project go well?
The more successful experiences occur when members of the design team or ownership team has experience with precast on past projects. This typically is a DBB (Design Bid Build) delivery project that engaged them via plant tours, CEU presentations, and direct contact with the precast fabricator and their facility. Those past experiences are expanded upon in the design assist delivery method by leveraging the knowledge of the precast specialty engineer to remove schedule impacts typically taken up in a DBB project. This includes shop drawing review, bid processing, scheduling, and on site coordination.
It is also critical that the project is driven and coordinated by a leader, a good communicator and a decision maker. This may be an owner, architect, contractor, and engineer or owners representative. We can use the latest tools to collaborate on a project but without the human element of leadership and communication the tool sits idle and time and money is wasted.
Kerkstra recognizes our key role in this effort and we are continuing to improve our expertise to bring the resources to the team so that you can take full advantage of what precast can do. We have added four engineers to our staff over the last two years. We will be leveraging this experience to help during the design phase, fabrication and installation to bring efficient precast structures to your team .
So what are your expectations for a successful design assist precast project?
Well, ours would be a team that is led, that communicates and executes on time to support all its members’ needs of information in order to deliver a project ahead of schedule and under budget.