A good fit in values and culture between client and construction partner lays a solid foundation for an ongoing relationship of trust – one which is more likely to weather the storms that market volatility can bring.
Although our clients are feeling the same strain as we are, they’re still rightly seeking to achieve their goals and create the projects they’ve been envisioning – with higher sustainability, good-quality materials, reasonable costs, quick-moving teams and certainty in project timelines.
Embarking on a new project can be challenging in this environment as costs escalate, budgets are revised and project plans adapt. How can clients start with new construction partners? How can they build trust in someone they don’t know?
Part of the answer lies in Early Contractor Involvement agreements, otherwise known as ECIs. ECIs aren’t new, but they are a highly effective and often under-utilised tool – particularly in the current environment. They should be top of mind for team leaders seeking to build trust with new clients.
ECIs enable construction partners to come aboard and provide valuable advice at the outset of a project, get subcontractors involved for realistic perspectives on how the project will unfold, and demonstrate strong value management and value engineering right at the start. This is in comparison to waiting 4-6 months, a period when prices – under current market pressures – are likely to have skyrocketed, and gaining a client’s trust is consequently more challenging.
This early-stage involvement plays another important role: enabling clients to see how their partners work, and to start to build trust before contracts have been signed. Trustworthy construction partners with strong teamwork, an ethical approach and a dedication to excellent service delivery are likely to shine through an ECI – whereas these qualities can be difficult to demonstrate in highly-competitive tender processes.
I have found that an increasing number of clients pursue ECIs to determine if their construction partner is the right fit. This industry has come a long way in recent years, and clients are now far more interested in a partner’s values and culture than they were in the past.
Taylor provided detailed design and value management advice during the ECI phase for 66 King Street, Sydney. Contracted by CBD One Pty Ltd, Taylor completed upgrades to Charles Plaza, an individually listed, art-deco heritage building in the heart of Sydney’s CBD. Works involved the refurbishment and restoration of the existing heritage features along with upgrades to all 14 storeys. Taylor also created additional floor space within the plot boundary, replaced existing lift cars and interiors and extended lift access to basement and the level 14 rooftop.
The ECI process enabled an increase in the commercial grade of the building for the client. This was achieved via an overall upgrade to the building’s services, vertical transportation, heritage and non-heritage finishes, as well as the maximisation of available lettable floorspace.