The idea behind the Design-Build model of construction may seem obvious, yet the benefits of working with a true Design-Build firm such as Devcon goes well beyond the basic concept of the architect and the builder operating under the same contract. By integrating in-house design and construction management since its inception, Devcon has developed a professional environment of collaboration and continual conversation between highly trained and experienced professionals. This communication style allows Devcon to produce quality projects in a shortened timeline compared to a traditional Design-Bid-Build project delivery method.
This collaborative instinct carries over to Devcon’s long and established partnerships with hundreds of independent architects and engineers. Taking pride in the level of design provided by our own internal architecture and design teams, we are a qualified and dedicated resource for owners, developers, architects and engineers. As a result, we are often called upon to take a Design Assist role to support an independent architect or engineer with construction plans and documents.
Integrated Project Delivery
For decades, all innovation in the way construction projects are managed–new contracts, new legal entities, “the bridging method,” Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP), ”contractor at risk,” etc.–have all moved toward more and better teamwork. Devcon knows and believes in the power of teamwork. When requested, we have adapted our design-build model as an Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) model, which unites all key team members–owner, builder, architect, engineer–contractually.
The strength of the Devcon in-house design team allows us to offer a variation on IPD that we call Integrated Design-Build (IDB). In this model, the general contractor and the architect are part of the same company and therefore share the same customer-oriented philosophy, methodologies, communication techniques and professional history. This approach reinforces the project team to have a unified vision which causes more focused decision making and minimizes miscommunication.
Devcon’s close partnerships with hundreds of subcontractors allows us to include them in the design/build process because we can discern which subcontractors have the capabilities, staff and values that will fit the project best. We bring them to the table as early in the design phase as possible to benefit from their specialized knowledge and experience. Design-Build subcontracting has proven itself time and again as a model that adds value and promotes cost avoidance. Many of our subcontractors reflect a similar design-build approach and boast in-house drawing specification services, custom manufacturing, and installation. This minimizes the number of players in the construction process which in-turn minimizes our schedule coordination.
Effective communication has always been a core tenet at Devcon. Recently, we have taken this tenet a step further with the acquisition of a 3-D printer that enables us to help our clients and their stakeholders visualize projects like never before. By leveraging 3-dimensional digital models that are now routinely used in the production of drawings and renderings, we can now produce presentation-grade models in a cost effective manner with our in-house 3-dimensional printer with more expediency and accuracy than ever before. The reductions in model turnaround times that 3-D printing affords also allow us to utilize models throughout the design process as study tools – from overall massing models during schematic design, to detailed mock-ups during design development – so that we may articulate the design intents of a project and make our collaboration efforts with clients and fellow design consultants more effective and efficient.
Traditionally, a building owner or developer hires a general contractor to handle construction based on an architect’s plans. The general contractor provides cost estimates and schedules, manages the project, acquires all necessary permits, provides all necessary equipment, maintains the “site general conditions” such as trailers equipment, controls site access and security, and hires subcontractors.
As a builder, Devcon self-performs the demolition, framing, carpentry and concrete work, so generally our subcontractors participate in the highly specialized MEP trades (mechanical, electrical and plumbing). As the general contractor, Devcon project managers and superintendents supervise the day-to-day on-site construction.
For Devcon, the heart of general contracting is relationship management and communication. We need to know, understand and anticipate the needs of the building owner or developer, the needs of our client’s architect and engineers, and the needs of our own subcontractors and field staff. Keeping everyone on the same page, pointed in the same direction is the key to a successful project that achieves its scheduling and budgeting goals.
The integrated practice of Building Information Modeling (BIM) allows Devcon to develop a comprehensive, virtual working model of a project. It brings teams together, clarifies communication, ensures cooperation, and identifies problems in the virtual world before they become problems in the real world. Essentially, BIM offers in-depth spatial and property structure which is advantageous in the early stages of multi-disciplinary clash detection.
We utilize a variety of software tools including NavisWorks which turns plans into 3D digital models that are fully compatible with systems used by our architecture and engineering partners. We aim to further Devcon’s technical capabilities through continuous innovation in digital design and construction.
Going beyond the traditional three dimensions of height, width and depth, Devcon uses BIM for coordinated, expedited scheduling–that is, to control the fourth dimension of time/schedules–4D BIM. We also use BIM for extremely accurate budgeting, making cost the fifth dimension of the project–5D BIM.
Finally, Devcon is invested fully in the ambition of BIM to become the standard tool for building owners to maximize the lifetime value of their properties. A detailed, up-to-date digital model can be used to test ideas for energy savings, alternative materials and wear patterns. Modern-day BIM technology allows us to break down even the smallest of data such as heat transfer or air pressure in order to consider all aspects of design and construction in the design process. With the sixth dimension of equipment and materials information added, 6D BIM becomes a living document that the building owner can use to reduce operational costs over the building’s expected lifespan.
Devcon follows just one iron-clad rule about estimating – “no surprises.” Devcon’s budgets are detailed and cover all construction costs, including permitting and inspection fees. Our project managers and cost engineers have emphasized training in this area. We expect similar clarity and detail from subcontractors. One of the reasons customers trust Devcon is that they quickly learn they can trust Devcon’s estimating.
The resulting budgets include a detailed analysis of the cost and schedule impact of various design options, as well as cost avoidance ideas from our own seasoned experts and from subcontractors. In addition to best practices learned from decades of experience on a wide range of projects, Devcon estimators continuously update their knowledge of construction materials and processes to improve efficiency and accuracy.
Ultimately, the estimating process allows Devcon to establish a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) that we will then use to create a detailed cash flow forecast and construction schedule.
Start with the end in mind. That maxim applies especially well to construction projects. For Devcon, THE END that we start with goes well beyond how a project will look silhouetted against a cloud-filled sky. For Devcon, THE END is the dream our customer had when the project was first conceived. How do we satisfy it? How do we improve it? How do we make the lives of those who will live or work in it better? Most of the answers are found during Preconstruction.
Devcon professionals join the design phase early, bringing out team member expertise with respect to:
The requirements of each project are unique, and we tailor the budgeting and planning processes to suit them. However, we typically produce four detailed budgets during Preconstruction:
Budget 1 – schematic design phase
Budget 2 - design development phase
Budget 3 – 50% construction document stage
Budget 4 – 75% construction document stage
Each successive budget informs the next and helps to shape the choice of materials, schedule, subcontractor selection and purchasing of items with long lead-times. Although construction is by nature a dynamic process, Devcon’s goal in every project's preconstruction is to lay the groundwork of the construction process in order to minimize disruptions as construction advances and completes.
Devcon savors the project closeout process at the end of each construction job. Evaluating and documenting the project provides valuable information for the future and ensures a smooth path to final acceptance and final payment. Our project management teams remain intact until the punch list is complete, move-in has initiated, the “as built” documentation is complete, and the site has been cleared and cleaned.
We value our client relationships and want the end of the project to be just as satisfying and exciting as the initial planning and design stages because we know that final impressions often have the largest and longest impact in the construction industry. After all, the people who occupy the facilities we have constructed have no contact with the 98% of the work hidden in the walls or under the floor, but have daily contact with the 2% of the work that is accessible to them. Project closeout organization is essential in solidifying this final impression.
When an end user decides to move into a building–that is, to become a tenant– improvements are often required. Sometimes the building is just an unoccupied, perceivably unfinished shell. The tenant improvements might include all of the interior construction except bathrooms and elevators for the whole building or just a portion of a floor.
Normally, the improvements finish the space with paint, flooring, wall treatments, lighting, ceilings, cabinetry, kitchens, fitness facilities, laboratories, audio-visual equipment installation, interior electrical, and special features such as glass display walls and sound proofing.
Some tenant improvements, such as data centers, cleanrooms, and manufacturing facilities, require extensive upgrades to the building’s mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) systems, and occasionally the foundation and framing as well.
In many projects, Devcon’s experience with sustainable building is called upon to increase energy efficiency, reduce water usage, cut waste and improve the environmental quality of an existing facility.
Devcon helps clients plan and coordinate their move-in and works with the client’s employees or neighbors to mitigate problems cause by construction noise, debris and materials staging in concurrently occupied buildings. Years of experience working side-by-side with tenants has helped Devcon create detailed guidelines and procedures for ensuring maximum efficiency and minimum inconvenience for all parties involved.
Some building sites need more improvements than just the building. Many of our projects spill over into general master planning and off-site improvements. Infrastructure includes anything needed to make a site usable and accessible — extensive grading and paving, roads, stop lights, irrigation, drainage, bridges, power stations, water supply, sewers, river control, tunnels, pipelines, removal of hazardous materials, landscaping, levees, and so on.
Devcon holds a Class A “General Engineering Contractor” license that allows us to work on these types of public infrastructure projects that require specialized engineering qualifications. This certification helps us expedite the overall building schedule by doing as much of the infrastructure work as possible in tandem with primary construction and by fully coordinating all of the permits and inspections required.
Many of our projects engage an existing site or structure that requires general improvements or renovations. Throughout the years, Devcon boasts extensive experiences revitalizing outdated shells and historical buildings by turning them into modern spaces which are appropriate for the needs of the current times. In some instances, Devcon has maintained strong client relationships such that entire campuses have become an ongoing rotation of refreshing existing buildings. Our expertise in refresh projects also allows us to work on and maintain some of the most iconic buildings throughout the Silicon Valley.