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Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product
Since time and budget are generally related, it is important to keep the project moving forward at the planned (contracted) pace. Two major pitfalls of laboratory projects are changes in scope of the project and upsets to the schedule. Changes in scope are often user driven and reflect inadequate communication during the predesign, design, and documentation phases. However, changes in scope are justified in certain situations, such as those resulting from the change of proposed users during the construction phase. Changes in the project scope may also be justified if there is a prolonged hiatus between the completion of the predesign, design, and documentation phases and the commencement of the construction phase. If these changes are small and occur late in the project, it may be more cost-effective to complete the project and then contract for a minor renovation, rather than delay the construction of the entire project and incur all the costs associated with both the delay and the change.
Schedule delays may originate from a variety of sources including overly aggressive scheduling by the general contractor, delays in the review and approval of shop drawings, or lack of project funding. Though some delays are unavoidable due to weather, work stoppages caused by subcontractor/contact renegotiations, and labor problems unrelated to the project, many delays result from an inexperienced contractor or a lack of communication between the client, design, and contractor groups. Whatever their cause, schedule delays generally translate into cost overruns.
Implementing previously developed cost reduction design alternatives can offset cost overruns created by unforeseen events. These alternatives should ideally be developed during the construction document phase to provide some degree of flexibility should the general contractor bids exceed the established budget or should cost overruns be created by unforeseen conditions. If cost reduction design alternatives were not identified before the bidding phase, they will most likely have to be developed as the project continues. The advantage of design alternatives is that they represent discrete costs and can be used as tradeoffs in the context of the budget and future use of the facility.
It is extremely difficult to produce construction documents that do not require clarifications or supplementary information. Occasionally these clarifications may result in modifications to planned or previously completed construction. Changes may also be required because of unforeseen site conditions, program changes resulting from research or organizational changes, drawings that are not sufficiently coordinated, the specifying of materials that are no longer produced, and equipment that does not fit. A process that encourages open communications to cope with these changes must be established and implemented. One of the primary reasons to schedule construction meetings on a frequent basis is to provide a forum for frequent communication among the project man-