The Role of Consultants in Construction Projects: How to Improve Your ROI

What is the role of consultants in construction projects?

For example, did you know that consultants can save you money by making your construction project more effective, less resource-intensive, and increase the value of your building now and in the future?

Today, you’ll learn all about what consultants can do for your project. Let’s get started.

The role of consultants in construction projects

The construction industry is one of the world’s biggest industries and it’s only expected to grow (up to US$12.7 trillion by 2022). As a notoriously unproductive industry, there’s a lot to be optimized. For example, with the help of consultants.

But the value of consultants isn’t always clear. If you’re wondering, “What can a consultant do for my construction project?”, read on.

First, let’s define what a consultant does.

What are the typical tasks for consultants in construction projects?

A consultant works on a project-basis and he or she works with often highly specialized tasks.

The types of consultants in construction projects vary. Typical consultant roles include project managers, architects, service engineers, as well as cost consultants. You also have third-party client-side technical inspectors, like Commissioning Authorities.

On a high level, consulting tasks include tasks like developing and supporting the development of the design, working with tasks related to project management, contract administration, inspecting the work of construction contractors, advising on sustainability and giving advice and helping develop the project.

What can consultants do for your construction project?

In what way can consultants help your construction project?

Simple. Consultancies often have a bigger pool of specialist talent than an in-house team. Plus, by continuously working on projects that are similar to yours, consultants can be a more time-effective alternative thanks to the expertise and data points they’ve developed.

Specifically, the role of consultants in construction projects can be to help you avoid delays and lapses, achieve your operational goals, improve the ROI of your building, and overall, make the construction process more effective.

The thing is:

Consultants can help you anticipate issues before they become expensive and time-consuming.

Another reason to hire a consultant for your construction project? Labor shortages in the construction industry. By working with consultants, you work with a flexible workforce that fits your needs. You work with them when you need them without employee-related overhead costs.

Note that the earlier you choose to work with consultants, the more they can do for you. After all, if a serious planning mistake is revealed months or even years into the process, your costs will quickly go well beyond any consulting fee.

The best time to start working with consultants is usually the concept stage for design projects and mobilization for consultants.

Why? These are the stages before materials and expensive equipment are procured.

What to look for in a consultant

So, what should you look for in a consultant?

Here’s are the non-negotiables:

  • Technical accuracy. Your consultants must be at the forefront of their niches and industries. Make sure you take a look at what types of projects the company has previously worked on.
  • Quality of services. Next, does the consultancy deliver what it promises? Make sure to ask for references and verified client results.
  • Effective communication. Finally, how effectively does the consultancy communicate? This factor is as important as, if not more important than, the consultancy’s expertise. This is especially important for specialist consultants. Similar to choosing a lawyer or a doctor, you want to choose consultants based on their qualifications, experience, and results rather than the lowest price. After all, their impact can be tremendous- but they make up a fraction of the overall development budget.

Plus, your consultant should have a strong business background and understand your needs as a company to deliver the best results for your bottom line.

Next, let’s take a closer look at the benefits of consultants in construction projects.

How do consultants improve your ROI?

The question you need to ask yourself before working with a consultant is this:

How do consultants help improve your project’s ROI?

Here’s the thing:

Consultants can improve your ROI in various ways, both directly and indirectly. For example, we recently looked at the ROI that consultants can bring to LEED projects. And the data reveals it all- the benefits are there, both in the short and in the long term. LEED reduces costs and improves a building’s value.

The same goes for the ROI of Independent Commissioning. You get fewer delays, which are often caused by incorrectly installed equipment. Plus, costs go down.

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) 2018 study shows the many ways in which commissioning improves a building’s ROI. For example, the median savings for existing buildings is 6% of utility costs. The median payback time for existing buildings is 2.2 years.

See how you shouldn’t solely be looking at how much a consultant will cost you, but rather their results? So: How much money, time, and energy can they save? That’s what makes a consultant’s fee pay itself back over and over again.

Next, let’s look at a few more general areas where consultants can help you improve your ROI.

First up: Why consultants’ knowledge of the market can be invaluable to you.

You get in-depth market knowledge

One of the main reasons for hiring a consultant for your construction project is this:

Construction consultants know the market.

The benefits are twofold:

#1: Consultants save money and improve ROI by knowing the latest solutions on the market.

First, because consultants work on projects similar to yours, they know what services and products to use for the best results.

So: The most cost-effective solutions on the market that will help save costs and improve the ROI of your project.

For example, we constantly test new approaches at Alpin Innovation Labs. We then take what we learn and apply it to our clients’ projects.

#2: Consultants help make construction projects more effective by knowing all the parties.

Second, consultants have deep insight into how all the parties of a construction project work- the architects, contractors, and design firms. They can effectively communicate with these different parties to make sure the project stays on track.

But that’s not all. Consultants also help avoid delays to your project. Here’s how.

Your project stays on schedule

One of the biggest problems with construction projects?

They’re often delayed. In fact, the construction industry is one of the least efficient industries.

Here, the role of consultants in construction projects can become indispensable.

That’s because they will help you:

  • Set a clear process of delivery.
  • Define a clear project start and close-out.

As a result, you save money both directly and indirectly, and your project keeps a high standard.

Last:

How do consultants help keep your project costs down? Here’s how.

Intelligent value engineering

Value engineering is a technique that optimizes a system’s outputs by focusing on performance and costs, as well as understanding the objectives and goals. For example, unnecessary expenditures are removed and value is increased by involving your team.

In construction projects, consultants work hand-in-hand with your technical and commercial teams to ensure your project meets its goals.

And with a consultant specialized in value engineering, you’ll quickly get back the value for that consultant’s fee.

Case studies: The ROI of consultants in construction projects

What do consulting projects (and their results) look like in practice? Here are three examples of development and construction projects we’ve worked on and the results we achieved for our clients.

ADNOC new corporate headquarters: 40% water savings

One of our commercial sustainability consulting projects was the ADNOC new corporate headquarters, a 342m office tower in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Thanks to our consulting work, the project achieved 40% water savings, a 31% increase in fresh air, and 15% energy savings.

We achieved these results by consulting the client’s subs on LEED certification. We have specialized knowledge of certification requirements and procedures thanks to years of experience in this area. As a result, we were able to help our client achieve savings, as well as a high-performing building.

NYU Abu Dhabi: 30% energy savings

One of our main focuses is implementing new technology to improve the construction industry. And thanks to the work we’ve done over at Alpin Innovation Labs, we were able to help NYU Abu Dhabi achieve energy savings of 30% when benchmarked against the ASHRAE 90.1 baseline.

We did this by using the IES software VE to incorporate the ECMs. The main contractor could verify the parameters they set out in terms of u-value, lighting, and HVAC. We then helped optimize the HVAD and water system to make further energy and water savings.

Al Towayya Ambulatory Center: 24% energy savings

As part of a sustainability consulting and commissioning project, we worked to help the Al Towayya Ambulatory Center, a 2,500m2 health care center in the United Arab Emirates, reach its sustainability goals. As a result, the project achieved 41% water savings, 24% energy savings, and a 12% increase in fresh air.

We consulted the client on the local green building rating standard, Estidama PBRS. The goal was to achieve two pearls, which the project did. This lead to the savings mentioned above, as well as long-term value for the client in the form of a high-performing building.

Want to know more about how consultants can help your construction project?

There you have it. Now you have a better understanding of what the role of consultants in construction projects can look like, as well as the ROI for you.

Want to know more about how consultants can help you improve your results? Read more about how we as consultants help our clients improve their construction projects.