Preconstruction Driving Value

By / March 06, 2022

JP Cullen’s preconstruction process drives value and results in accurate budgets. We lead the process, pushing, challenging, and guiding the team to make decisions and hold to its commitments. We use lean tools like Big Room, Storyboard, Pull Planning, and High Performing Teams to drive creativity. The team will go through what works, what does not work, and the ideal state to drive waste out and value in for the project. Our preconstruction process concentrates on:

  • Establishing the target cost
  • Detailed milestone estimates at the design phases (schematic, design development, and construction document phases)
  • Steering to budget between milestones
  • Arriving at the contract prices agreement
  • Assessing budget risks & opportunities


What is unique about our approach is a series of collaborative working sessions called Storyboarding. These weekly meetings get the entire team in one room to coordinate information, brainstorm, and hold each other accountable to commitments.

These meetings are so critical because when decisions are made early in the design process, they are cheap – basically free. But if a decision is made later in the process, it then has a time and cost impact. Another added value from these meetings is that it creates a partnership among the entire project team that carries on through the life of the project. We instill a culture that secures buy-in to this process and ensures every perspective is heard. The collaborative effort of the entire team offers the best opportunity to limit effort and waste and accelerate the schedule.

Below are examples of how we have provided value to our clients during the design and preconstruction process, which led to cost savings, reduced schedule, and a better solution.


Initially, the design showed the technical education addition as a 4,400 sqft rectangle. The team considered splitting it into two additions vs. one in a design meeting. We provided real-time feedback that this would add cost due to more foundation and skin in the two smaller additions versus the one and identified a cost impact of $200,000. After evaluating the options, the district decided to go with the one addition.


Franklin School District passed a $43.3 million referendum to address enrollment growth, learning limitations and safety. Shortly after the referendum passed, the District, JP Cullen, and Plunkett Raysich Architects started planning for the brand-new middle school. The team assessed the benefit of prefabricating the exterior walls during preconstruction to reduce cost and accelerate the schedule. The team executed a thorough plan and set over 30 panels a day, saving one month on schedule. The project also came in under budget. The referendum value approved by voters was $43 million and the final construction cost was $40.1 million.


On a new office building project for one of the largest public accounting firms in the United States, the Guaranteed Maximum Price for the contract came in under budget by 3.7%. Three factors contributed to the cost savings:

  1. Engaging MEPF contractors early to provide input on value engineering options
  2. Researching and finding alternative options for items that were too costly or hard to find
  3. Maintaining a wish list log to ensure new ideas were aligned with the project intent

The mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection (MEPF) made up 20% of the project budget, making this a critical focus during preconstruction to ensure the proper amount of funds remained for finishes. During the design phase, these contractors were brought on board via a competitive Request for Proposal process to collaborate with the entire team, providing input on constructability and value engineering options.

The team also researched and found alternative options for high-end items that could be substituted or removed, saving money on the project and future monthly maintenance costs for the owner.

It is about more than giving you the lowest cost option – it is about finding you the opportunities that align with your goals and give you the best ROI.


JP Cullen was part of the conceptual phase of the preconstruction process for a new 27,500 sqft production facility providing the client with constructability guidance. With JP Cullen hiring and managing the Architect, the Architect was kept within the pre-determined budget and scope of work. Both the Architect and JP Cullen were able to collaborate with the Client to form the perfect building design, ensuring seamless progression during design and construction.

Preconstruction services gave the Client the chance to fully understand the cost of the project and its design implications. With the presentation of multiple budgets and different accurate estimate comparisons, the Client had a cushion added to their decision-making process. The preconstruction services, spanning approximately a year, gave the Client ample time to calculate and choose their best options, in their own timing as well as stay in their budget.