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September 5, 2017 Property ConsultingDesignConstruction

How Design-Build Can Bring Value-Added Service to Property Selection


Owners and facility operators are often faced with the need for expansion beyond their existing constraints, and this may indicate the need to identify and purchase a property that will best accommodate future growth. Unfortunately, selecting a property for purchase, whether it be a piece of vacant land or an existing building, is a complex process ripe with opportunity for costly missteps and unexpected financial consequences.

The real estate community has expertise in identifying properties, confirming property value and prices, and negotiating sales and purchase terms and conditions. However, real estate companies are typically not adept in assisting an owner in the complex process of property evaluation, determining if a parcel of land or an existing building is best suited for an owner’s unique development and operational needs. In addition, real estate firms offer little to no value in identifying potential hazards and future cost implications of a piece of property, nor does it serve their ultimate purpose, to sell property, in doing so.

Design-Build firms, when experienced and qualified to provide property selection, evaluation and analysis, are an excellent resource available to assist owners in this capacity. More than ever, owners are engaging Design-Build firms to provide this service, and for good reason.

Design-Build firms knowledgeable in property services understand the concept of development costs, and are able to analyze a property’s value, and true cost, beyond the initial purchase price. Design-Build firms can uncover the hidden costs involved in a piece of property–such as poor soils or environmental issues on land parcels; concerns including structural integrity or utility capacity on existing buildings, or any other conditions that will impact development cost and schedules. They also have the ability to efficiently and accurately develop construction and renovation budgets, giving owners a clear picture of the overall future cost of development and renovation. This skill set, if present in a Design-Build firm, will become invaluable in identifying concerns often overlooked, or never considered, which become extremely expensive after the property is already purchased and design and construction are underway.

Having the Design-Build team involved in the property selection process also provides an owner with the ability to understand the range of options available to any piece of property. Does one site lend itself to a more logistically efficient plan than other sites? Does one building allow for greater flow of operational processes in lieu of an alternate building? Only by engaging a Design-Build team during the site selection process can these and similar questions be accurately addressed.

Once an owner has made the decision to engage a Design-Build firm to assist in property selection and evaluation, the next crucial step is in identifying the right firm. Many firms in the design and construction community may state that they have the resources, expertise and experience to assist owners in property selection, when in reality they don’t. And while many firms may be good designers and/or builders, those skills do not simply transfer to an ability to perform property services. Therefore, it is important for an owner to ask pointed questions, such as:

*What property services have they performed in the past, and how often do they perform these services?

*What are the types of properties, the overall property sizes, and the geographic range of properties they typically work with?

*Have they performed site selections and property services on a local scale or a national scale?

*Can they provide specific examples of successful property services recently completed?

Then, it is important to understand a Design-Build firm’s property services processes.

*Do they have a detailed and written process for selecting, analyzing and evaluating properties on behalf of their clients?

*Do they have individuals specifically dedicated to the property selection process, who have experience in the process, and the expertise to manage the process?

*Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for references.

The property selection and evaluation process can be daunting. It can also be an extremely expensive unanticipated future cost if not properly managed. A qualified and knowledgeable Design-Build firm experienced in the property selection process can add tremendous value and save an owner a considerable amount of money, but only if engaged early in the process.

A M King Staff
A M King Staff
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