Value Engineering is one of those things where most companies talk the talk, but very few are capable of walking the walk. You will see “Value Engineering Services” these days in every brochure and website as if it were some form of new buzzword, when in reality Value Engineering is something we here at Knottown have been practicing for years.
So why is this “Holy Grail” of cost savings talked about so much yet so so difficult to achieve? Well the answer is really very simple and as we know how true savings can be achieved, we will let you into our little secret!!
Most of our work nowadays at Knottown requires us to have value engineering input throughout the design process and that is the absolute optimum result for a client. By optimum, we mean that everyone is working towards the one goal of providing all the clients objectives (Including budget!). Of course this collaborative working environment isn’t always possible at the early stages but providing Value Engineering solutions after a design is completed is always a much more difficult process. In 2015, circa 72% of the work we undertook had our value engineering input at the early stages.
The first thing to remember when Value Engineering a project that is “cost sensitive”, is to understand that you are taking a design that people have probably already fallen in love with. Clients, Architects, Interior Designers and many more stakeholders have spent good time and money coming up with the ultimate look and feel, only to establish that the end result is over budget or can’t be delivered within a short timeframe window. They’ve seen the design now, so that’s what’s in their head and that’s what they want. Our job at Knottown is to provide solutions that do not impact adversely on the architectural integrity of the project. While this takes skill and expertise, communicating the results to stakeholders is a whole different level of skill altogether! You are essentially making recommendations on their “baby” and that can be a very dangerous thing to do.
Advice on materials, construction methods and value engineering alternatives is only easy if you understand where all the stakeholders are coming from. This stage in the project is hugely political and there may be all sorts of back stories. Maybe the client is annoyed with the Architect that he can’t get what he wants for the initial budget, maybe the Interior Designer is trying to find money for another element of project or maybe the client is running out of money at this stage. Whatever the story, professionalism and integrity is what matters the most in these circumstances. We are here to help, not to win. Three specific examples of our value engineering on recent projects are as follows:
- Saved 25% off a commercial fitout package by implementing value engineering ideas such as: Replace shaker panel doors in the attic space to bespoke mdf doors with routered lines and spray painted. Everyone was delighted with the result and saved 25% off the budget.
- Saved 18% by replacing steel on a stairs with timber. Whilst the central steel spine had to be removed we managed to keep the same contemporary look and feel by keeping the glass, adding a cut string facia and using a nice solid oak step. Actual saving for the client was €5,000 on the stairs alone.
- We were able to save 15% on a residential fitout by taking two standard IKEA units and turning them into a work of art (even if i do say so myself!).
To be truly great at Value Engineering, communication needs to be one of your greatest strengths and that’s why it’s so hard to deliver. Yes we have to understand and evaluate alternative procurement channels taking into account the very tight timeframes for fitout. Yes we will be looking at alternative materials, yes we will be looking at alternative construction methods but most importantly what we are trying to do is to maintain the design intent, not to sacrifice too much to the concept and ultimately to reach a compromise with all the stakeholders. The partnerships that we have fostered throughout this process in the last couple of years have been fantastic. It has created lifelong friends because as a team we need to trust each other in order to deliver the best result for the client.
Too many companies these days look at these “cost sensitive” projects as an opportunity to make a quick buck. Our firmly held view here in Knottown is that winning once is short sighted. Consistently deliver value to your clients over time and they will keep coming back, time and time again.
For your next Joinery project, we would be delighted if you would reach out to us at Knottown Joinery. We would love to work with you and deliver craftsmanship you can admire.