How To Pick The Quickest Construction Method: 3 Questions You’re Not Asking

If you’ve ever watched a sprint event at a track meet, you know that a runner’s first step out of the blocks usually dictates who wins. Similarly, to achieve the fastest facility construction performance, your first step is the most critical.

Take, for example, a competitive market such as data center operations, where each day a facility is not open equals millions of dollars in lost revenue. The same can hold true for a manufacturer trying to get products in market or a chain retailer attempting to establish a new footprint.

Findings of a 2013 study determined that an hour of downtime costs data centers an average of $474,000(1).

A careful determination of whether to build using conventional construction or a design-build with systems construction approach is an important initial decision to make. Also, when your facility procurement process engages the building materials supplier from the beginning in the project discussion, you have the best opportunity to affect the schedule.

Some preliminary questions to consider:

  1. Do you have the right decision makers at the table?
  2. Are they a collaborative team that can work together seamlessly and simultaneously, or are they linearly dependent following a step-by-step, one-track path?
  3. Do your construction suppliers have the optimal value chain to deliver a lean project cycle time?

Not all construction processes are built for speed

In recent years, there has been a shift away from conventional construction methods as owners look for new, more responsive solutions. Many project owners have discovered the advantages of employing collaborative upfront design, custom-engineered building systems and integrated project delivery methods as a means of streamlining otherwise cumbersome or inefficient construction processes.

With conventional construction, a lot of time is consumed in the preliminary drawing, detail and bid phases. These are significantly condensed in design-build where those decisions are determined, simultaneously early on. That means building site work and erection can start sooner – in many cases, months sooner.

Up to 30% faster than conventional construction

As a custom-engineered systems supplier for a design-build approach, Butler Manufacturing has a unique ability to impact schedules. Building envelope assemblies are manufactured in the controlled environment of a factory, unaffected or delayed by weather conditions. Also, those engineered systems are delivered right to the job site in a ready-to-assemble sequence. So they arrive at the precise time and in the exact order they need to be erected.

A design-build with systems construction approach eliminates disruptive starts/stops and stacking of trades. In contrast, this approach optimizes in-place speed and costs while eliminating process redundancies. Management of labor is more controlled, making man-hours and work output much more productive and predictable. Without a similar ability to control workflow and productivity, schedule creep is inevitable.

According to a study of over 12,000 projects conducted by the Independent Project Analysis group(2), on average, over 35% of all construction projects will have a major change:

25% of projects (schedules) slip by over 20%

25% of all projects grow in the field by over 30%

You may still wonder, “Is a design-build with systems construction approach right for me?” The fact is, you are in the best position to know. But you may want to ask yourself a couple of additional questions. “Do I want to leave a 28-day or a 45-day ‘dry-in’ schedule on the table? What about a 60-day or 120-day completion on the table?”

Start smart to finish fast

It only makes sense to weigh all of your options when considering construction of a new facility – especially if completion time is a crucial factor.

There’s no doubt that design-build with systems construction offers many efficiencies versus conventional construction methods, while still enabling buildings to be built to quality standards while achieving high architectural appeal.

This approach may well prove to be the ideal way to improve communication, eliminate extra steps, reduce risks, condense timelines, and add bottom line savings.

Datacenter Dynamics, “One minute of data center downtime costs U.S. $7,900 on average.” Available at: Accessed January 11, 2016.

Intergraph®, “Factors Affecting Construction Labor Productivity.” ©2012 Intergraph Corporation. Available at: