Value Engineering . . . and Design

Value Engineering

In mostcommercial/industrial projects as well as high-endresidential jobs, the process is universal. The owner envisions a finished shopping center, office building, hotel, condo renovation or new home construction. A design team is retained to capture the owner's vision. Once approved, every product used in the construction is specified by a team of professionals who select building materials that meet the needs of the design that are stylish and cost-effective. A generalcontractor or construction manager is brought in to oversee the construction and a team of qualified subcontractors begins the project.


At some point during the project, time, availability of products,weather, revisions in the original plan, or other factors enter the picture and changes may be required. Enter Value Engineering. It will likely be spelled out in the contract and may even be a billable item to the owner.


The flooring industry is a "finish" trade and not done until well into the project. Typically, cost overruns, change orders or simply the fact that a product specified two years prior may not be available any longer or the costs have changed. Value Engineering is a process whereby the con­tractor or subcontractor may have the option to substitute a product "equal to” the one originally specified. In some cases the contract will spell out "acceptable" substitutes should this situation arise? Or, it may be entirely left up to the contractor or subcontractor. If the item(s) substituted are less than the originals. Who benefits from the cost savings? Read your contract carefully


In preparing this article, we sat down with Dennis Mclennand, Commercial Sales and Technical Director and Commercial Sales RepresentativesCamila Gutierrez (Miami-Dade County);Felice Krellman (Broward and Palm Beach Counties); and,Cynthia Stehman (Miami-Dade County). This team of professionals works with architects and designers and presentsproducts offered by D&B Tile Distributors. It is their job to keep the design community informed on D&B’s selection of tile, marble and stone from around the world. The Commercial Sales force works with the contractors and subcontractors to sell the products.


Cynthia StehmansAccording to Cynthia Stehman, “Value Engineering in the construction industry started in the 1960s. The focus at that time was more contractor-driven and focused on cost reduction. On behalf of the client, through the General Contractor, the subcontractor is asked to find something similar but less expensive then the products originally specified. Then they would adjust their price reflecting the cost savings. It became a way for the General Contractor to offer the owner/client a lower project cost.”


"They usually had the clients' attention because they promised to bring in the project for less money than originally estimated. Specifications are legal documents but they are usually very clever in getting the client to allow Value Engineering to take effect. It is usually begun by a contractor. During the recession, many contractors used value engineering and charged for the service with promises to lower the initial cost but keep the same quality with ‘equal to' products."


Alot of general contractors or project managers aren't tradesmen. They've gone to school but only have an appreciation of what each subcontractor does and how they interact with each other. They often leave these decisions up to the subs that are legally considered the ‘expert’ in that area. The industry has gone through a lot of changes including a lack of qualified tradesmen for all trades. Often they don’t ask enough questions. And, just because it's cheaper doesn't mean it will work the same. Too often the client doesn’t see the savings for using a less expensive product," said Dennis Mclennand.


Final advice from the D&B Design Team ... Respect your designer's choices. You are paying them for that service. They have time invested and are giving the owner their best estimate of what would work best for the job. A tremendous amount of work goes into these projects before any specifications are written. You paid for their time. Commercial projects need to last at least 20 years.


For additional information on this subject, contact any member of the Architectural Design and Commercial Sales Team at D&B Tile Distributors.