What Do Construction Consultants Do?

If you’re planning a construction project, you may have been advised to hire a construction consultant. Perhaps you wonder what construction consultants do. Or if the value a construction consultant provides will be worth the added expense.

Just ask anyone who suffered through a construction project gone wrong. You’ll hear some common themes. Poor planning. Bad communication. Mismanaged change orders. Scheduling glitches that caused delays. Lack of attention to red flags.

The list could go on. But one way to make sure these problems do not derail your project is to hire a construction consultant.

While it’s true that by using a consultant, you’ll add some expenses to your project, but qualified construction consultants can save you time and money every step of the way.

Using an experienced construction consultant will help ensure that costly mistakes aren’t made, that all the participants are communicating well, and that the project is completed on time and within budget. And most of all, they work to make sure you are satisfied with the outcome. The larger the project, the greater the need for a construction consultant.

What are the Steps in the Construction Process?

Depending on the size of your project, you might need a construction consultant for all of the steps in the process, or maybe just some of them.

Before going into the details of what construction consultants do, let’s briefly review the stages of the construction process. This is important as the work of the construction consultant depends on the stage of the process.

Generally, there are six steps in the construction process.

1. Project Planning

The first step is the planning stage. Sometimes this is called project development or project conception.

Whatever it’s called, this is time for brainstorming ideas for what you really want to build. For new construction, this is when the location is selected. Finally, all projects’ initial plans are drawn up, and the architect and general contractor are chosen.

2. Design

Now we’re at the point where your hopes and dreams for the project meet the reality of what can be achieved within the constraints of your budget. Finally, detailed plans are drawn, meaning the design and construction documents are finalized. At this point, everyone involved will get an idea of what the finished construction will look like.

3. Preconstruction

This is the phase where the final planning and logistics are worked out. Most of the work in this phase is done by the general contractor. The first task is to assemble a project team, including a contract administrator, a project manager, a superintendent, and a field engineer.

4. Procurement

This is when your general contractor goes shopping for the building materials needed to complete your project and lines up the necessary labor and equipment.

5. Construction

And now the work begins. Finally, the vision that was drawn on the plans comes into reality.

6. Post-construction

During post-construction, all the final quality checks are performed. Then, the project owner walks through the project for the last time, ensuring all the items on the punch list are completed. Finally, any necessary inspections required by the government are conducted, and applicable occupancy permits are issued.

What Construction Consultants Do

Now let’s consider what construction consultants do to complete the project more smoothly every step of the way.

Project Planning and Design

Construction consultants can help right from the start. They can help ensure that the initial plans include the most essential features and truly capture your vision for what you want to build.

They also can assist in the design phase. This is where their technical expertise will be critical. They can advise you on enhancing the project’s value or how to incorporate green technology into your building.

Construction consultants will also advise regarding structural issues. They will assess the plans and make sure your project will be structurally sound and will meet construction codes.

They also prepare project timelines and estimates. This means the process of how your project is carried out is clear to all players. And that there is a precise project start date and end date.

This early planning and design work, if done properly, can help avoid delays, miscommunications, and other problems that can make your project go over budget.

Preconstruction, Procurement, and Construction

Once the design and construction documents are complete and the project moves forward, several administrative and management tasks are to be completed. Construction consultants work closely with the general contractor to ensure that all facets of the project are running smoothly and are completed on time.

They might also manage the project budget and handle any problems that arise. Often they serve as the go-between who keeps communication flowing between the general contractor and the client.

Another critical role a construction consultant can fill is anticipating issues before they come up. By knowing the plan, the contractors, and the project owner, the consultant is well-versed in all aspects of the project. So they can continuously monitor progress and expenses and be proactive in anticipating problems. Then they can be either avoided or managed when they are only minor.

They also monitor any discrepancies between the blueprints and the actual implementation. Then, they analyze the reasons for these and resolve them to ensure they do not cause problems later.

Some construction consultants employ a technique called intelligent value engineering. This helps them focus on performance and costs as the project proceeds. Keeping costs down and the project within budget help maximize your return on investment in your building project.


At the end of the process, the consultant can help with inspecting the work of the contractors, coordinating the inspectors, and ensuring that all post-construction tasks are completed.

Working with Construction Consultants

One significant benefit to using a construction consultant is you only work with one when you need them. For example, you might decide you don’t need their services for some stages of your project.

For example, you might hire a construction consultant for the planning and design phases. Once your project is off to a good start, you may decide to use your in-house personnel to manage the preconstruction, procurement, or construction phases. Then you can bring the consultant back to help wrap things up during post-construction.

It’s important to remember that the earlier you engage a construction consultant, the greater your benefit. It’s far better to involve them early on and avoid mistakes rather than have to hire someone to come in and try to salvage a project that has gotten in trouble.

The best time to hire a construction consultant is in the planning and design phases. That way, they are familiar with your project from the start. And you haven’t purchased any expensive materials yet, materials you might not end up using because they won’t work for your project.

How Much Do Construction Consultants Cost?

Generally, a well-qualified construction consultant will charge between 5 and 15 percent of the total project cost. For jobs less than $1 million, the fees will average between 10 and 15 percent. For larger projects, consultants may charge a smaller percentage. On the other hand, residential projects are much lower: typically less than 5%.

While fees are often calculated on a percentage basis, sometimes the consultant will charge a fixed fee based on the number of hours they will spend on the project. Or, sometimes, they will charge based on the project’s square footage.

Fees will also vary based on what services you’ve hired the consultant to provide. The usual practice is to pay fees as each project phase is completed.

What to Look for in a Construction Consultant?

At a minimum, ask about the following before hiring a construction consultant.

1. Technical Expertise

Your consultant must have experience working on projects similar to yours in scope. In addition, you want someone well-versed in the leading technology and trends. Then, you can apply their knowledge and expertise to your project.

2. Quality

Check references carefully to assess what past clients thought of the quality of the consultant’s work.

3. Communication

Bad communication can sink a project. So you must ask the references how well they felt the communication was handled. Also, evaluate your own experience with the consultant. For example, suppose they aren’t communicating to your satisfaction while trying to get your business. In that case, it’s not going to get any better once the contract has been signed.

Four Reasons to Hire a Construction Consultant

While construction consultants perform various tasks that vary from project to project, the reasons people hire them are nearly always the same.

1. Develop a project plan that fits your budget

The last thing you want is to develop a detailed plan, only to learn it will not come anywhere close to fitting into your budget. A construction consultant can help you sort through your needs and help you realize as many as possible within the financial parameters you have set. For example, they may be able to help you save on labor costs.

2. Avoid mistakes and costly overruns.

When there is a dedicated consultant monitoring project progress, mistakes are more likely to be avoided. And as we all know, mistakes are nearly always expensive in terms of time or money.

3. Ensure good communication between you, the project owner, your contractor, architect, and other participants.

We all know how time-consuming adequate and effective communication can be. This is why a construction consultant can make sure this critical element of project success is in place.

4. Construction consultant firms have more resources in terms of specialists with vast experience in their fields of expertise.

Unlike your in-house staff, the consultants can dedicate themselves to the project. This means other responsibilities won’t delay them. They also will be up on the latest technology and trends, so they won’t need to spend time researching. They’ll be able to quickly advise you on the best solution for your needs.

A skilled construction consultant will be well worth their fee in the time and money they save you by making sure the job is done right, on time, and within budget while saving you the stress of dealing with all that time-consuming, stressful coordination yourself.

If you’re planning a large project and want to make sure it’s done right the first time, think about hiring a construction consultant. The services of these professionals can save you time and money and increase the value of what you are building. And help keep your project on schedule.

If you’d like to know about our experience and the construction consulting services we offer, give us a call.

What is Shell Construction and What Does it Include?

Shell construction can be a good option for many people who want to construct a house or other building. First, they can contract to have the outer structure built. Then, later, they can take care of adding the finishes to the project.

People choose shell construction for a variety of reasons. Whether they are a homeowner who wants to save money by installing the finishes himself, or a building owner who’d rather finish the building to meet the needs of specific tenants, shell construction is an alternative worth considering.

But what is shell construction? Basically, shell construction involves constructing what’s called the building envelope. This includes the foundation and the structure that protects the interior of the building from rain and snow and is a barrier to insects, noise, and intruders. The shell not only protects the inside of the building but is the structure that ensures the building’s stability.

In contrast, a complete project would essentially be move-in ready. The builder would complete all the interior and exterior finishes. While some people prefer the turnkey alternative, others are more inclined to shell construction.

What is Included in Shell Construction?

While some projects may include more features, every shell construction project consists of constructing the primary structure of the building.

This includes six components: site work, footers and foundation, reinforced masonry, tie beams, slab, and roof framing.

In projects that involve building a complete structure, these same components would be built. In addition, all the exterior and interior finishes would be added. Since shell construction does not include the finishes, it is much less expensive.

But before deciding on pursuing the option of shell construction, it’s essential to understand what’s involved in building a shell that will meet your needs.

1. Site Selection and Site Work

As in any real estate decision, the location is critical. There’s no point in building your dream house in an area that few people would find desirable.

Once you’ve found a piece of land that looks promising, you’ll need to do some testing and analysis to ensure it is appropriate for the structure you plan to build.

Soil testing is imperative to determine if the subsoil meets code. Many areas are sand or muck in south Florida, which do not meet building code requirements. If your lot’s soil doesn’t meet code, the engineer will determine what needs to be done to remedy the situation. Excavation, demucking, or backfill might all be required.

The site may also influence the type of foundation. This is usually determined through a survey and by analyzing the vertical dimensions of the proposed building. The architect and engineers will be able to tell you if the lot will support the type of building you want and what excavation or backfill will be required.

2. Footers and Foundation

This is a critical step in the process of any construction process. Any mistakes made in the foundation will impact the rest of the building.

Footers are designed based on the weight of the proposed building. If necessary, piles may need to be installed to compensate for any inadequacies in the soil.

The footers will need to be carefully laid out to ensure that windows, doors, columns, and other vital points are appropriately reinforced. A correctly performed concrete pour of the footers and foundation will provide a sturdy foundation for the building.

Hiring a shell construction company that understands the south Florida building environment will help ensure the success of your project. For example, coastal properties require different concrete than those located inland.

3. Reinforced Masonry

As in other stages, the layout is vital. Once the footers and foundation are in place, the block layout is designed to support masonry openings, such as windows or doors. Reinforcing materials, such as steel rods or horizontal bracing will be added as needed to enhance the strength of the building.

4. Tie Beam

The tie beam connects two footings and avoids the settlement of columns or the foundation. They also keep different footings from settling differently.

5. Slab

This is when the concrete is poured for the foundation. It will most likely be run simultaneously as the foundation if it’s a monolithic slab. If not, it might be poured with the tie beam. Every project is different.

The key to either approach is to plan appropriately beforehand, including ensuring there is no rain headed your way. You want the slab poured in dry weather to make sure it dries properly.

6. Roof Framing

In this stage, the trusses are installed, and the wooden sheaths are attached. This leaves the structure ready for the roofers to do their part. Roof waterproofing is not included in the shell.

Once these phases are completed, all that’s left is for the site to be cleaned up and excess materials stored for the later use of the subcontractors.

The Big Advantage of Shell Construction: Flexibility

The primary reason people choose the option of shell construction is the flexibility it offers. They can get the shell built quickly, then take their time to complete the work according to their timetable. In addition, they can figure out how they’d like to finish their sub-floors and stud walls and add any other finishes they’d like.

Every project is a little different. Because of that, various projects may include other elements besides the ones described above. Sometimes further details are included in the shell construction. For example, some projects include windows and doors, external cladding, and occasionally, landscaping. Additional elements are added depending on the needs of the building owners.

Your builder can work with you. We can do that if you’d like to include heating, electrical systems, or roughed in plumbing.

What are the Advantages of a Shell Building Structure?

Many homeowners prefer to hire a building contractor to construct a shell. By doing this, the homeowner can save some money. This can be a good option if the homeowner has the time and the skills to add the flooring and interior finishes and enjoys doing the work.

In addition, the shell construction concept allows people more flexibility. They can customize the home as much as they like, and finish the building at their own pace, taking their time to decide about flooring, paint, and other finishes when they are ready. These people don’t like the pressure of making all the decisions at once, as is the norm with turnkey construction. By building a shell, they can control the timing of the finishing process.

Many people who build commercial properties prefer the shell construction concept as well. There are many advantages to using this method.

The reason is simple. Many building owners who built and finished commercial space discovered later that their tenants had utterly different needs or wants regarding the space. Many of the finishes and interior walls needed to be changed. Ceiling, flooring, and electrical and mechanical fittings often required significant changes.

All of which added up to a lot of wasted time and money. Many commercial properties are now built with the shell concept. The common areas like lobbies, staircases, elevators, public restrooms, electrical, plumbing, mechanical systems, fire detection and safety, and landscaping could all be completed even before tenants sign the lease. Part of the lease would involve finishing the rental space to meet the tenant’s needs.

The work can proceed even if tenants have been found before the shell is complete. This gives the tenants a little more time to decide on the layout and finishes of their space.

If you’d like to explore shell construction as an option for your new home or commercial property, give us a call. We’d be happy to explain how our process works and how shell construction can be a better, stress-free option for you.