Solutions 16.4

Why a design-builder should act as an economic advisor

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Design-build experts FINFROCK, Construction News.Design-build experts FINFROCK, Construction News.





How Having an Economic Advisor Benefits Your Project

When working with a potential client, we ask many questions. Our curiosity has a purpose and stems from our company philosophy: “Offer clients what they need, not just what they ask for.”


We believe you hire FINFROCK to be your trusted design, construction, and economic advisor. In doing so, you place your trust in us to help make your project a success. Ultimately, it is our obligation to give you everything you need to produce a successful project. Sometimes that may be something more -- or even a little different -- than simply complying with your request. In essence, asking questions is the best way to determine you have what you need -- to get your desired results.


Design-Build Vs. Design-Bid-Build


FINFROCK doesn’t normally bid on projects that are designed by other companies. We win business based on our ability to provide value for our customers’ unique needs using the most economical way to meet those needs. Our years of experience, combined with our consultative approach and our understanding of the economics involved, enable us to provide the best plan and the best value for our clients. In this issue, we have included case studies that illustrate how we have been able to empower our clients to achieve fantastic outcomes – such as shorter schedules and significant cost savings – because they trusted FINFROCK’s consultative approach. In most cases, they got more than they asked for.


In this issue of Solutions, we examine how FINFROCK’s clients benefited from our consultative approach to their business needs. You might be surprised by some of the results!


A Lesson in Economics and Profitability


When a local university foundation partnered with a developer to turn two parcels of vacant land into an income stream, they decided to build low-rise student housing and a retail complex that would use both parcels. Given their budget, the only type of construction that appeared to make economic sense for the student housing was semi-permanent, high maintenance wood structures. During strategic discussions with the university’s developer, FINFROCK advised against this decision. We counseled that the most economically feasible course was to densify the land and build taller concrete structures. These buildings would last well into the next century and carry fewer life cycle costs on one parcel. This strategy would also enable the university to retain half of the land for future use. Upon considering this alternative solution, and our rationale behind it, the developer agreed. Additionally, they gained confidence in this solution based on reliable budget numbers from FINFROCK for completing construction - numbers generated well ahead of construction document completion.


Profitable and parkable


FINFROCK believes a holistic approach must be taken to maximize both the main-event use for the site and the structured parking. This approach proved successful on a site that had remained undeveloped due to other developers’ inability to design a concept that guaranteed adequate parking. Utilizing our knowledge of designing, pricing, and constructing multi-level buildings and parking structures, FINFROCK developed a concept for an upscale hotel project that proved economically viable and surpassed parking requirements. Despite the limited parameters of the site and the city’s height limitations of three-stories, FINFROCK was able to illustrate project feasibility well before completion of the final design documents and the land purchase.


Penny wise, pound foolish


Developing a large piece of farmland for a mixed-use project is usually less problematic than dense urban development. However, one developer encountered an existing utility easement on farmland that would either need to be moved or incorporated into the master plan. Moving the service would cost $500,000 or more, plus valuable time, so the developer initially chose to design the entire project around the easement. Unfortunately, the easement ran diagonally through the site, causing extreme inefficiencies in the multiple parking structures for the project. FINFROCK’s proven expertise in designing and building structured parking enabled us to project that a $10,000,000 savings could be realized on the parking alone if the developer moved the utility. The developer was impressed with our ability to provide this projection before infrastructure work started and agreed that
moving the utility would be the most economical course of action.


Don’t always go with your gut


If your business has a parking lot designed on a semi-circular parcel, does that mean your future parking structure must utilize the same shape? One such business owner and his architect believed that to be true. Unaware of the negative financial impact this configuration might have, they solicited bids for a curved parking structure. FINFROCK realized the business owner would derive no value by bidding the architect’s plans. Instead, we chose to submit a design-build proposal for a parking structure with a more efficient design. The FINFROCK proposal maintained the desired level of aesthetics and included the cost of redesign and construction. After reviewing all the bids for the curved design – bids which did not include the design fees – the owner quickly realized that there was a significant disparity in price. FINFROCK’s turn-key approach was the obvious choice. In the end, FINFROCK’s parking structure provided the owner with short and long-term gains: it cost less to design and build, and it will be less costly to maintain in the future.


If the footprint fits


FINFROCK received a Request for Proposal that asked for design-build submissions for a two bay, 6 level, event-based parking garage with ground floor retail. However, we quickly realized that the designated footprint did not allow for a design that would meet the owner’s budget. After discovering an adjacent piece of property not being utilized, FINFROCK designed a garage with a larger footprint, fewer elevated levels and improved function. Patrons are able to park and exit the garage much faster. Also, FINFROCK’s solution was crafted to optimize the building code, allowing for the inclusion of retail without the need to install fire sprinklers in the entire garage. By exceeding functional requirements and eliminating unnecessary costs, FINFROCK delivered the only proposal that met the owner’s budget.


A tall order


Our years of experience in building parking structures has taught us that vertical expansions can be inordinately expensive and disruptive to existing operations. When feasible, we advise and design for future growth in a horizontal rather than vertical direction. Recently, we received a request for proposal from a hospital where the owner wanted to design for vertical expansion. To illustrate the pros and cons, FINFROCK provided scenarios for expansion options in both directions:

  • the vertical expansion would take an entire
    garage out of service for the duration of the
    expansion construction and triple the cost per
    stall of the original garage
  • the horizontal expansion could be accomplished
    at a later date for approximately the same per
    stall cost and without loss of existing parking


After evaluating both options, the owner concurred that FINFROCK’s design for a taller garage on a smaller footprint – expandable at a later date without loss of service and for a comparable price – was the best choice.



Why FINFROCK Can and Others Can’t


FINFROCK combines the advantages of in-house design with the expertise of a general contractor and a precast concrete manufacturer. As a fully integrated partner with all design, construction, and manufacturing professionals in-house and under one roof, we have constant feedback from all teams, as well as an excellent database of cost information.


Drawing upon these resources, FINFROCK is able to accurately price even the most complex structures without complete plans and in a timely fashion. By delivering the best price possible, owners receive the benefit of significant, reliable and proven economic input.


With FINFROCK, owners can make a realistic evaluation of their pro forma very early in the project with little or no capital outlay. By dealing directly with the single source responsibility of a fully integrated design-build company, they further mitigate risk. The arduous process of dealing with a loose alliance of separate design teams, contractors, and subcontractors is virtually eliminated. Instead, owners deal directly with one source and avoid project delays and overages.


FINFROCK has revolutionized the way the building industry works by taking commoditization out of the equation. By employing a consultative approach, we give our clients what they need – not just what they ask for.