Nzangi Muimi

Value Engineering in Construction

Value engineering in construction is a systematic, organized approach to providing necessary functions in a project at the lowest cost. It promotes the substitution of materials and methods with less expensive alternatives, without sacrificing the functionality of the project. This is because it is solely focused on the functions of the various components and materials, rather than their physical attributes.

Value engineering is the review of new and existing products during the design phase of the project to reduce costs and increase functionality to increase the value of the project. The value of the project can then be defined as the most cost-effective way of providing the intended project functions without taking anything away from its purpose.

Further, value engineering helps the project team to control construction costs without compromising on the overall project quality. It is an organized process that analyses the requirements of a project to achieve the necessary functions at the lowest cost possible.

When to Perform Value Engineering

According to Gordian, there is no wrong time to value-engineer a construction project. However, the closer the project is to the schematic stage, the better. At the preconstruction planning stage, the project will derive more benefits from the process as the cost of making changes is low and alternatives can be explored without delaying the project, as illustrated below:

Potential Savings from Value Engineering

Potential Savings from Value Engineering, Source: Gordian (2023).

As illustrated, during the later stages when construction is progressing on site, implementing changes may be costly because it involves rework and possible demolitions and alterations.

Value Engineering Stages

The following stages are followed to accomplish the goal of optimizing the value of construction projects without compromising on quality:

  1. Information gathering: the goal of this stage is to pinpoint the materials, components, and scope of the project. The value engineering team gathers data and studies components such as materials, construction schedules, costs, drawings, and specifications of the project to get a clear understanding of the material facts and identify areas for potential improvement.
  2. Function Analysis: at this stage, the value engineering team breaks down the project into its parts and examines each one to determine its purpose, function, and performance requirements.
  3. Creativity and Innovation: at this stage, the team members explore the different ways to perform the functions that have been identified. The existing ideas are discussed with an open mind while exploring other possible solutions and methods they think would be the best alternative to these existing ideas.
  4. Evaluation: the value engineering team evaluates the pros and cons of the solutions listed in the previous stage to identify which one has the best ability to save money and add more value to the project. The best alternative solutions are passed to the next stage of development.
  5. Development: here, the most promising alternatives are developed into drawings, and sketches by exploring their impacts on cost, quality, time, and owner expectations.
  6. Presentation: the team then shares the most promising alternatives with the owner, together with the pros and cons and proper advice on what decision to take. This is done in the form of a written report with recommendations and the rationale that went into the development of the proposal and a summary of key cost impacts is presented so that a decision can be made.
  7. Implementation: If the recommendations of the value engineering report are accepted by the client, they are incorporated into the design documents and implemented on-site.

Benefits of Value Engineering  

Value engineering will have the following benefits for the proposed project:

  1. Cost reduction – value engineering can help reduce the overall cost of the construction project significantly by identifying where costs can be reduced without impacting performance and quality.
  2. Waste reduction and improved sustainability – by employing the best alternatives, value engineering reduces the wastage of materials and scheduled time, thereby contributing to minimizing the negative impact of the construction project on the environment.
  3. Better decision making – the collaboration increases communication, with the contactor, consultants, and the project owner working together reviewing options and engaging with the various potential outcomes critically. This improves the decision-making process.
  4. Relationship building – the benefits of value engineering go beyond cutting costs; the process is collaborative and relies on teamwork to achieve the best results. This allows the project team to build and fortify relationships that generally help expand businesses and make working on the project more enjoyable.

Evolving Trends in Value Engineering

Value Engineering is evolving towards a focus on sustainability and adaptability to shape the construction industry’s future. This aligns with the global environmental need to promote energy-efficient construction materials, renewable resources, and eco-friendly construction practices.

Also, innovative and collaborative ways of working such as the use of building information modelling are being applied in value engineering. At the design stage where evaluation and analysis should be done, building information modelling (BIM) can be a great tool for developing design alternatives in a digital environment and evaluating the construction project in real-time as it develops from design to the facilities management phase.

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