PreConstruction Services

Preconstruction Services are the services we offer at the beginning of the design process, well before construction begins.

The result of a builder’s input during the design phase is a more streamlined design process, with fewer changes, and fewer surprises for you.

It is our way of helping you and your designer get accurate construction technique, material and cost information to weigh your options before your new construction or house remodel breaks ground. This is a streamlined process, giving you the reassurance that your construction and design team are completely in sync. Learn More.

View our  Preconstruction Services Chart

Preconstruction Services Include:

  • Researching permitting requirements and processes
  • Analyzing site costs including erosion control, rock & tree removal, import/export of fill, driveway construction, septic, well, utilities, etc.
  • Reviewing and providing feedback on architectural and engineering designs
  • Writing Specifications & Scopes of Work for the project including all mechanical systems
  • Cost Estimating with an increasing level of accuracy as the design progresses
  • Value Engineering: Cost saving ideas and options pricing

The Benefits of Preconstruction Services:

  • Early cost estimates lead to a more streamlined and efficient design and construction process. It is more likely you will build your design if you get early cost information.
  • Costs are visible during design, allowing you to make cost-wise choices early in design, rather than needing an expensive redesign after the project has been fully detailed.
  • Construction challenges are addressed prior to construction; creative cost saving construction alternatives can be explored.
  • Adds a deeper level of detail to your designer’s Scope of Work and Specifications. This reduces the risk of construction cost overruns, change orders, and unexpected delays.
  • If you will be bidding your project, you’ll receive more accurate and equivalent (apples-to-apples) pricing, as fewer assumptions will be made by various contractors.

Cost Estimating:

Every builder will make some effort to estimate a project’s costs, but most cannot afford to spend the time it takes to estimate a project to the level of detail necessary to actually be useful. Having a background in project management as a software engineer, Steve Howell recognized early on how the strategic use of technology could improve efficiencies in his home building business. As a result, he developed a proprietary software system called BuildSmart which:

  • Estimates costs with unprecedented accuracy
  • Provides the complete cost of a project up front, resulting in fewer change orders once the project is under construction
  • Gives designers and homeowners the flexibility of seeing how their material and design choices affect the overall cost estimate allowing them to tailor the project to their budget.

There are several stages of cost estimating:

  1. Conceptual Estimate- a rough estimate given during a first or second meeting to help determine the general feasibility of a project based on the client’s vision and budget.

  2. Schematic Estimate – an estimate based on an initial schematic design (general floor plans before any finish details are specified) This estimate will help determine the direction of continued design.

  3. Preliminary Estimate -an increasingly accurate estimate as the design progresses to the next level of detail. This is when value engineering is critical to evaluate cost saving ideas and options pricing. You have the flexibility to tailor the project to your budget because you can see how material and design choices are affecting the overall cost.

  4. Final Estimate/Construction Price – A detailed estimate based on the final construction drawings, written specifications & scope of work. This results in the final price for construction.  We typically work under a fixed-price construction contract based on this final estimate. Having worked with you and the designer during preconstruction, there should be no surprises on the price as it will have been developed, with your input, alongside design development.

Cost of Preconstruction Services:

  • The cost of preconstruction services is typically 1-2% of the construction budget (on top of construction costs).
  • Typically, the services pay for themselves in the cost savings identified during the design process in materials selections and methods of construction.
  • Our preconstruction services contract is separate from our construction contract and is based on hourly rates.


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  • Howell Custom Building Group supports sustainability by encouraging our clients to donate reusable materials to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. All proceeds help fund the local Habitat affiliate. Click here for a list of acceptable items to donate and additional information.