With the arrival of IT through CAD, CMMS and ERP, all industries have seen their working methods evolve. However, this change seems to be hovering over the construction sector without actually becoming an inherent part of it. 

In 2016, a study by the American firm McKinsey highlighted the delay the construction sector had taken in digitalization. This sector is second to last, just ahead of the agriculture and hunting sector. Even if this may make you smile at first, it is quite revealing of the difficulty that stakeholders in the sector have in perceiving the benefits of digital technology in their profession and daily tasks. We had dedicated a previous article on this subject and more particularly on the situation of main contractors.  

Paradoxically, today, most real estate developers, i.e. project owners, use CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) to supervise their entire marketing process, a mandatory step to start any construction project. As a reminder, banks generally impose a marketing rate of between 40 and 60% to finance projects. The question then is: why do project owners stop using digital technology and how to remedy this problem? 

This article aims to show you - the project owner - how the use of a collaborative platform like Kairnial will allow you to connect up the marketing of your programs with the performance of work through to delivery and thus increase your reputation with buyers and operators. 

 

EDM and BIM: an essential starting point for the success of the construction project 

A construction program, regardless of its future use, is always subject to a number of steps prior to its operation. As a real estate developer, you first carry out a set of actions related to selecting a location in order to identify land most likely to offer a good return on investment once it is built and delivered. Once the land has been found, preliminary studies will be carried out alongside experts who are both technical, such as the geologist, but also architectural, with the design project management. These studies need to be carried out as quickly as possible while respecting professional standards. This means that you will have to identify processes to speed up the implementation of studies.  

In order to check the feasibility of your construction project on your land, you will ask an architect to evaluate the land’s development possibilities. Each time they do a version of the sketch or the preliminary draft, they must ask you to validate their proposals. To do this, they can do PDF format or DWG format exports and then send them to you by e-mail. In addition to the file size problems that we all experience with our mailboxes, this process is particularly time-consuming and risky, especially when it is necessary to shuttle back and forth to confirm modifications.  

This is where the use of a platform like Kairnial plays its main role since you will finally be able to act on certain deadlines which initially seem incompressible. Thanks to the platform, you will be able to demand that the architect shares all the sketches and preliminary drafts directly on the platform in the EDM (Electronic Document Management) system. You can then consult, at any time, from your computer and mobile, the architectural proposals made by the project management. You can thus validate the plans even while you are searching for potential locations. 

The use of EDM must also be complemented by BIM (Building Information Modeling) which is both a collaborative method of work and provides multi-dimensional modeling of the structures to be built. It is called 2D, 3D, 4D BIM, and so forth. At this precise moment, the modeling of the work is your most valuable aid. Indeed, you will be able to visualize the potential rendering of the future work more easily thanks to the first 3D model that the architect will create. We are talking here about a BIM design model.  

This model will also become an asset for your marketing. Indeed, just as it helps you visualize the program, it helps future buyers imagine themselves in their future building. We all know that it is much easier to visualize 3D rather than imagine volumes from a 2-dimensional plan. This model will then be enriched throughout the construction and operation cycle. The BIM design model becomes a performance model, a handover model and, finally, an operating model. 

 

Promote digital continuity between design and performance 

Before starting construction, you will select all the design offices and contractors that will carry out the work: your first risk of digital disruption is incurred at this stage. Indeed, when issuing calls for tenders, you will send a set of documents necessary for contractors to submit their bids to you. These documents include the general administrative clauses, the specific technical clauses and, above all, the plans. Each contractor will collect this information and save it on their own storage spaces. It will then be particularly difficult to centralize all the information associated with each application again. 

When you use EDM and the BIM functionality of the Kairnial platform, you promote the collaboration of all contractors around a common working tool. Also, since information needed for consulting and selecting companies is already on the platform, you will again save time in your consultation phase, start the work more quickly and therefore recover cash faster. The software will also serve as a means of disseminating plans for all contractors from the start of construction. Thanks to versioning, all stakeholders are always aware of the latest updates and can thus concentrate on their core business, which is the performance of the work.  

 

There is no such thing as a project without buyer modifications! 

Once the work has started, you will have to manage buyer modifications and potential additional work. To satisfy your end customer, you will have to manage a set of imponderables that are the wishes of buyers to make changes to the work under construction. Buyer modifications represent a real difficulty for any person in charge of real estate programs.  

All real estate developers give buyers the opportunity to make choices on certain features such as the selection of tiles or paint. However, it is very common for buyers to want to make unforeseen changes. The first challenge is then to be able to identify these wishes before it is no longer possible to fulfil them because progress on the site is too far advanced. The classic example is the desire to modify the location of a partition, an electric outlet or a water inlet once the finishing work has been completed. When buyer’s modification is accepted, it is communicated to contractors who must do everything to take it into account. As the project owner, you will certainly annotate the purchaser plan, sign, scan and send it to the architect for technical validation and to the relevant contractors. A little later, it will be your duty to go to the site to check that this buyer modification has been taken into account. 

With a tool like Kairnial, you can directly add buyer modifications to the digital plans, or the BIM model hosted on the platform. There is therefore no more room for doubt, all stakeholders are aware of the addition of buyer modifications and thus know their precise locations. Once this work is completed, contractors can report it by changing the status of the annotation: To do, Done. They can also take a picture of the buyer modification and add a comment to help you monitor the work that has been done. You thus limit to-ing and fro-ing between the site and the office. This again means time freed up for your location searches in particular. 

 

View the progress of the work to trigger calls for funds 

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Just as the project is divided into technical phases for contractors, the project is also sequenced for payments from buyers. This specificity of the sale of buildings to be built or under construction is governed by the sale of property for future completion scheme. This scheme allows a buyer to pay for their property as it is built. French law then provides for a phasing of payments: “35% of the total price when the foundations are completed, 70% of the total price when the accommodation is roofed and 95% of the total price when the building is completed”. The remaining 5% will be settled once all defects have been resolved after delivery. This instalment payment is your means, as the owner of the building, of retrieving cash flow as you finance the project. Therefore, the challenge is to obtain these payments without delay once the phases have been completed. 

Kairnial software allows you to have a real-time view of the progress of the work. As the architect can validate the progress of the project concomitantly, you will be able to very easily trigger the calls for funds. This progress tracking can, among other things, be indicated in the site meeting reports that the architect will draft with the application. 

 

High quality construction for fewer defects 

The quality of the performance of the works is key to limiting defects to a minimum during the handover of the work then the delivery to the end user. It is essential to reduce defects as much as possible to ensure the satisfaction of your customers and consequently for the successful marketing of your future programs. Indeed, defects are a very important source of stress for you and for your buyers, anxious to buy a property without having to manage potential interventions by contractors after moving in. 

By providing contractors with a site monitoring tool, you give them the opportunity to carry out all the quality and safety controls essential for the successful completion of the work. If defects or non-conformities are identified, contractors will be able to act very quickly upstream of the handover and delivery of the work. All these inspections and associated defects are then saved in the application, which will enrich the performance BIM model.  

At the end of the work, the handover should then take place under the best conditions since the structure should have few or no defects. You will then have a handover report without a list of associated defects. However, if defects are identified, you can ask the architect to locate them directly on the BIM model or on the plans and add as much additional information such as photos or comments to allow contractors to process them as quickly as possible. The objective here is to avoid using several tools to carry out this survey. Indeed, without software like Kairnial, you will take a picture of the defect, note it in a previously printed Excel table and then return to the office to clean up these elements and send them by email to the contractors. Doing this without a specialized tool incurs a major risk of errors, in particular due to repeat inputs.  

 

Digital delivery to strengthen your reputation 

Delivery is a crucial step for you as the project owner, but also for your end customers. It is at this precise moment that they will pay the remaining 5% of the price of the property and take possession of it. Therefore, it is essential that the delivery takes place as smoothly as possible. This moment is also symbolic with the handing over of the keys as it is the basis of a trusting relationship with you. If this stage goes smoothly, the satisfaction of your customers will therefore encourage them to buy more property from you. In a way, delivery is the cornerstone of your reputation. 

The advantage of digital technology is then even more tangible. In addition to having put all the chances on your side to achieve a goal of zero defects on handover and delivery, you can draft your delivery report on site on D-day. The document stored on your Kairnial platform is accessible at any time and is easy to complete. In order to offer the best possible experience to your buyers, you can complete beforehand the fields independent of the property to be delivered such as the postal address, the name of the buyer, etc. The buyer will then just have to sign the report and retrieve a copy without delay. 

If it is a more institutional buyer, for a block sale for example, in addition to the delivery report, you will be able to provide them with a handover model which will contain all the elements needed for the operation of the building. 

 

Handover model: the building’s identity card 

The handover file (file of works performed) is a set of documents summarizing the structure and its construction process. Compiled at the initiative of the architect, it brings together the plans as well as the technical sheets, the materials used, the technical opinions, the instructions and, above all, the maintenance recommendations. This file is therefore essential for the proper management of the building by the end user or the operator. 

By using BIM throughout the construction cycle of the project, the project management can update the technical changes made to the construction project in real time. In fact, it is no longer necessary to spend several weeks collecting all the documents from the stakeholders in order to put together the file. All the elements are directly centralized and saved within the model at the same time as the structure is built.  

Finally, upon delivery, the operator can anticipate maintenance costs and plan future maintenance interventions. This last point has also become a major factor for operators who themselves need to optimize the management costs of the buildings they operate, particularly in the context of the overall cost. This idea of overall cost is very important for institutional customers who must be aware of it from the financial set-up stage to obtain their loan, cover maintenance and consumption costs and any other cost that impacts the financial and environmental budget of the building to be operated. By providing them with a BIM model, you offer them the possibility of identifying and calculating almost all of these costs. 

The use of a common tool shared by all stakeholders in construction projects is the only guarantee to have real control over the progress of the project. You optimize the productivity of all teams and allow the contractors carrying out the work and the project management team to work more confidently. All this ensures the construction of a better-quality structure and strengthens your reputation with current and future buyers. The last key factor in the success of your projects is the transmission of a complete modeling of the structure to operators who can then concentrate on finding tenants.  

 

The question is no longer will you digitize the management of your projects but when are you going to drive digitization in your projects by connecting all the stakeholders to your Kairnial platform?