Engineers with building plans and construction materials discussing solutions for value engineering

Value engineering in construction is defined as a systematic and organized procedure to identify the necessary function of a design in a project to provide alternative solutions at a lower cost while maintaining or surpassing original quality, safety and function. Value engineering targets functionality of different construction materials, equipment and processes and provides superior alternatives while maintaining original design objectives.

A common misconception is that value engineering is an effort to reduce cost by substituting inferior products that affect quality, safety and function. This is cost-cutting and not value engineering.

In developing a design, be it for residential, commercial or industrial applications, Architects and Engineers would often use time tested architectural, structural and civil engineering designs. Although this practice is well accepted, it is largely dependent on the experience of the designer and the acceptability of regulatory authority that is reviewing the design. Value engineering helps your project by reviewing and recommending alternative solutions with the goal of reducing cost and/or adding “value” while providing the same quality or better. In addition to reducing cost, value engineering also considers advancements in technology, methodology, sustainability, ease of installation, ease of maintenance, and longevity of use. 

The less work and materials that needs to be put into your project would mean lower costs and less chances of something going wrong.

The Value Engineering Process:

  • Identifying the project scope

  • Analyzing the functions of the design

  • Developing alternative solutions

  • Assessing the alternative solutions

  • Costing of alternative solutions

  • Presentation of the alternatives

  • Receiving feedback on alternatives

  • Further developing the favored alternative

  • Implementation

Value engineering starts with identifying the scope and objective of the whole project and then is broken up to individual components for the materials, labor and method of construction to be used. The function of each component is then defined and analyzed. Keeping in mind the function of a particular component, alternative solutions are developed. This step involves research, communication, and thinking outside of the box.  There can be numerous alternatives to achieve the same results with equal or better quality while reducing overall cost. The costs for the alternative solutions are then computed. The recommended alternative is presented to the client together with all other options, highlighting the benefits and disadvantages, including its effect on costs and construction time. If a contractor has been selected for the project, this is an ideal time to get feedback to support the recommended alternative(s). Upon acceptance and approval by the client, the favored alternative is further developed and implemented into the design.

An example of one of the most common areas where value engineering can be applied is in the structural design. A Structural Engineer’s structural design will contain the dimensions and specifications for all the structural components, but there are a variety of combinations and approaches to achieve the same result and value engineering is the process to determine the option with the least cost.

When to start the process of value engineering a project?

The Value Engineering process can be started at any time before or during construction, although the best and most cost-effective time is during the architectural and structural design stage. The architects and engineers will give you a design that, from their point of view, will achieve your planned objectives and concepts. Before you start looking for a contractor, it is recommended that your design go through the value engineering process.

If your project has already been designed and gone to bid, it is still not too late to apply value engineering. Often times after reviewing itemized bid tabulations of your project, design components that have the most value engineering potential are more clearly identified. It also provides a baseline cost to compare alternatives against to ensure the right alternative is selected.  

Value engineering can also be applied at any stage of the construction. Construction conditions and situations during actual construction may not always be as optimal as assumed in the planning stage and you will benefit greatly by applying this process prior to construction. A portion of the added “value” will be lost if applied during construction as there will often be administrative costs, change order(s), schedule delays, etc depending on this specific circumstances.

Engineer giving instructions for house construction to save money

How can Value Engineering help your project?

Value engineering is basically determining ways to more simply accomplish the same goal. The less work and materials that needs to be put into your project would mean lower costs and less chances of something going wrong. Effective and detailed planning from the design stage will help your project stay on budget and the amount of time and money you spend in going through the process of value engineering will be recovered as savings during construction.

One example of value engineering is in the selection of windows. The costs of window systems can be significant. Size and placement of windows will affect your requirements for heating and cooling. This will result in more expensive heating or cooling solutions and affect your future utility costs. Consider also the design of the windows. How much air does it let in? Does it seal well? How much light does it let through? Are the frames obstructing light and air passage? Do you need all those windows? Do you need all of those windows to open? Factor in also your requirements for privacy, safety and security which are all project costs that would be considered.

Another example would be placement of walls and columns.  Wide open spaces inside a home would translate to a more expensive structural design. Adding walls may lessen the expense of the structural system but will add in the cost of framing and finishes. Replacing wall with the addition of a few cleverly hidden columns, or sometimes even just one, can be a great solution and significantly decrease the cost of the structure.

These are just a couple of examples, but building or renovating a home is a very complex endeavor with numerous elements that are expected to come together to meet or exceed your expectations. Value engineering is also not limited to the actual construction but extends to your maintenance costs and possible future requirements. Developed and emerging technologies, building practices and building regulations are also considered to prepare you and your home for the future.

This does not mean you will sacrifice the finishes and spaces you prefer. The objective is to provide you with other options to achieve the same goals for the present and the near future. Value engineering is not a compromise, but think of it as a work around.

All the elements in your home should work together well. This means that the people involved in the design process, which is you, the architect, the civil engineer and the structural engineer should also work together. Effective value engineering is achieved by cooperation of all involved in the design to come up with better alternative solutions to bring you the best quality with the least cost. That is value.

With our years of experience in construction, our commitment to explore and apply new and upcoming technologies and our proven ability to deliver, we at Design Everest, are well equipped to provide you with value engineering services for your new home and renovation projects.

Call us at (877) 704-5727 or email your requirements to info@designeverest.com for a no-obligation quote followed by a consultation.

*Note: The content published above was made in collaboration with members of Design Everest.

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