Precise budgets, thorough analysis and flexible plans create “gold standard” for construction estimating

Working through the evolving plans for the first Stadium Square office building, Plano-Coudon staff, clients and partners were reminded of the high value of precise and proactive estimators.

Plans for the six-story building on Ostend Street shifted as developer, Caves Valley Partners, worked to initiate an attractive and profitable development and anchor tenant, United Way of Central Maryland, sought to tailor its space to suit the service needs and financial constraints of a nonprofit.

Phil Smith, chief estimator for Plano-Coudon Construction, presented project estimates that were clear, concise and strikingly detailed, said Arsh Mirmiran, a partner at Caves Valley. And the flow of valuable information didn’t stop there.

“Plano-Coudon has been very proactive in showing us potential savings through various value engineering approaches,” said Mirmiran, who has also partnered with Plano-Coudon to redevelop Cross Street Market. “When they give you an estimate, they will give you a laundry list of ways that you could reduce the budget, knowing that the budget often needs to get reduced. That component of Plano-Coudon’s service has been really fantastic.”

Through the Construction Manager At Risk model, Plano-Coudon has adopted that open-book, collaborative planning approach with more and more clients.

“It creates a better working environment, frankly, and it leads to better projects. We act as an advocate for the client and analyze projects from their perspective in order to achieve their goals within their budget,” Brett Plano said.

By involving estimators and project managers in the earliest stages of a project, Plano-Coudon can provide clients with valuable pre-construction services, such as constructability reviews, value-engineering analyses, logistics planning and design input, Plano said. “At that pre-construction stage, we can change things on paper. It’s a lot less expensive than making changes when you have got hammers in the field.”

The value of any estimating service, however, hinges on its precision and thoroughness.

“Phil is the gold standard in estimating. He is almost militaristic in his discipline,” Plano said. “He brings a methodology to estimating that not a lot of people have and he has trained other members of the department so that our estimators are knowledgeable, disciplined, able to tap into a huge subcontractor base and also use state-of-the-art technology while creating budgets.”

“We pride ourselves on having solid, thorough budgets that can be used as a tool throughout the whole project by the whole team,” Smith said. “If you need any breakdown of pricing, it’s probably there.”

Plano-Coudon’s estimating and pre-construction staff, Smith added, can also project building operating costs based on design decisions so that clients can tailor their construction project to obtain the best possible facility and stay within an acceptable, total cost of ownership.