Breaking Down the Pre-Construction Process

In episode 8 of our In Practice series, Heather and Josh discuss approaches to pre-construction, the cost of pre-construction, and the future of the pre-construction process.

Greiner Construction
Breaking Down the Pre-Construction Process

Josh Miltenberger, a construction executive out of Greiner’s Des Moines office, sits down with Heather to discuss the pre-construction process.

With COVID’s impact on the supply chain, longer lead times, and the labor shortage, the pre-construction process is more important than ever to ensure projects are completed on time and within budget.

In episode 8 of our In Practice series, Heather and Josh discuss approaches to pre-construction, the cost of pre-construction, and the future of the pre-construction process.

The Pre-construction Process

Clients often want to know when to begin pre-construction talks, however the timeframe will depend on the size of the project. A tenant improvement project where you’ll primarily be working with existing structures will not require as extensive of a pre-construction process.

On the other hand, more complex or larger scale projects that are just in the conceptual phase will need a more exhaustive pre-construction process. For those types of projects, the pre-construction phase may require bringing on a capital campaign team to raise funds or a design team to help visualize the client’s needs. At that time, Josh likes to ask lots of questions, ensuring he fully understands a client’s needs, wants, and dreams.

  • Needs: These are the absolute musts that need to be included; elements like plumbing or ADA-compliant requirements are included in this.
  • Wants: The would-be-nice elements that could be included; think of things like granite countertops or natural wood flooring.
  • Dreams: The conceptual ideas drawn out in the very beginning; perhaps the client wants an open concept floor plan with natural light for an airy feel.

Josh notes that, as a project manager in the pre-construction process he is not trying to squash a client’s dreams. Rather he is trying to understand and formulate a plan to keep their dreams in alignment with their budget and goals while still being true to the project. It may take a little creativity and value engineering to accomplish within budget while still delivering an end result that the client will be happy with.

The Cost of Pre-construction

The cost of pre-construction will depend on the project but it can generally be looked at in two ways:

Time spent going through the pre-construction process, surveying the site and developing a plan to complete the project on time with little to no surprises.

Risk of NOT going through the pre-construction process and having to spend more time, money, and energy in the future because of poor planning or missed cost-savings opportunities.  

With that being said, the pre-construction process is an important early investment into a project and skipping it could result in additional costs on the backend.

Approach to Pre-construction

Josh takes a holistic approach to the pre-construction process, allowing him to fully understand the client’s entire team’s goals (not just the owner’s goals). By gaining deep insight into the wants and needs of a project, he is able to formulate a plan, set a schedule, and meet construction milestones to stay on track.

The pre-construction process helps eliminate uncertainties when done the right way. To do it the right way means:

  • Maintaining clear lines of communication
  • Setting realistic expectations
  • Following up when all is said and done

The true testament of a successful pre-construction process is when the job is completed on time, within budget, and makes the client happy. In Josh’s experience pre-construction can sometimes be so effective that actual construction is no longer needed. That was the case for him when meeting with a potential client to expand their workspace to accommodate more employees.

Originally the client was looking to make scope changes to the floor plan but when Josh and his team talked to them and walked around the site they realized that through some creative repurposing of one of the rooms, construction services would not be needed. While Josh may have talked himself out of some work, he built a relationship with the building owner and was able to gain more work with them on different projects.

That being said, a successful pre-construction process comes down to three key components:

  1. Schedule Management
  2. Cost Management
  3. Scope Management

Having a strong grasp of the above three components will set a project up for success from the very beginning.

The Future of Pre-construction

The construction industry is especially volatile right now as the pandemic continues to affect the supply chain. It is more difficult to accurately predict material costs and timelines during the pre-construction phase. This can cause challenges when estimating out to clients.

Josh recommends advising clients on what the cost for materials and labor is now, noting that the volatility of this industry will most likely cause changes along the way. This goes to show how important the pre-construction process is right now. Getting in early and talking to clients to fully understand their needs, wants, and dreams surrounding a project is essential to the success of the completed project.

During pre-construction Josh and his team are able to note potential challenges and come up with solutions that can be part of the plan going forward. They just have to be more creative with how they save time and money. But it leaves little up to chance when the pre-construction is done properly.


As the pandemic continues to disrupt most, if not all industries, the importance of pre-construction is evident. Get in early, talk to clients, listen, and make sure there is a clear understanding of the entire project before jumping in. Ask the right questions and formulate a plan to approach the project in a different way, ensuring overall success at the end of the day.

Follow along with Greiner’s In Practice series as we continue to dive into industry topics and trends to better educate ourselves and others in the construction field.

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Heather Weerheim (00:05):

Well, we are pleased to have our construction executive from our Des Moines office, Josh Miltenberger, joining us in the studio today. Josh’s construction management experience is vast: projects of all sizes he’s worked on, including just renovations in interior renovations in new construction. Anything else I’m missing?

Josh Miltenberger (00:22):

Oh, just the whole gambit, bit of a Jack of all trades.

Heather Weerheim (00:25):

Education. I think we had in there.

Josh Miltenberger (00:28):

Education, healthcare, housing office, kind of the whole gambit.

Heather Weerheim (00:33):

And we’re really lucky to have that because Josh for a while was employee number one in the one and only in Des Moines for about a year. And right when in 2020, right when COVID hit.

Josh Miltenberger (00:46):

Yes, January of 20 is when we started the office, which was great. And then March happened. So we all know what happened there. So 2020 looked a lot different than what I originally anticipated.

Heather Weerheim (00:05):

Well, we are pleased to have our construction executive from our Des Moines office, Josh Miltenberger, joining us in the studio today. Josh’s construction management experience is vast: projects of all sizes he’s worked on, including just renovations in interior renovations in new construction. Anything else I’m missing?

Josh Miltenberger (00:22):

Oh, just the whole gambit, bit of a Jack of all trades.

Heather Weerheim (00:25):

Education. I think we had in there.

Josh Miltenberger (00:28):

Education, healthcare, housing office, kind of the whole gambit.

Heather Weerheim (00:33):

And we’re really lucky to have that because Josh for a while was employee number one in the one and only in Des Moines for about a year. And right when in 2020, right when COVID hit.

Josh Miltenberger (00:46):

Yes, January of 20 is when we started the office, which was great. And then March happened. So we all know what happened there. So 2020 looked a lot different than what I originally anticipated.

Heather Weerheim (00:56):

Yes. Josh, as we’ve been working together, I’m in awe of your pragmatic approach to everything that you do because you were our first employee in Des Moines. You wore several hats as we just discussed marketing and BD, sales. Maybe, even a little HR?

Josh Miltenberger (01:14):

Little bit of everything. Yeah. If I needed to fill the coffee, you know, take out the trash, like the whole thing, right?

Heather Weerheim (01:19):

Yeah. Project management, administrative of all that as business and staff has grown, it’s been fun to finally see you kind of hone in your executive role that you were supposed to have. So that’s great. And are you feeling good about that?

Josh Miltenberger (01:32):

It is. So my word of the year for 2021 was traction, really trying to gain what we had started in 2020 for the Desmoines market. Yeah. This year’s momentum. And so we’re taking the team that we built in 2021 and really seeing that come to full fruition right around Thanksgiving. And we’re seeing just some amazing opportunity in 22 and beyond

Heather Weerheim (01:52):

Which is awesome. And so basically, because of all these efforts that Josh put forth in 2020 our office has grown to, I think, are we at five now?

Josh Miltenberger (02:01):

We’re at five now. Yes we are. Yep. We have three in the office and two in the field and looking to add another in the field.

Heather Weerheim (02:06):

That is amazing. Well, you’re here in studio today to talk a little bit about pre-construction. We’ll go ahead and get started. So Josh and we’ll get to this. I’m gonna preempt the conversation. Josh once told me a story about actually talking himself out of work with a client as we go through the questions. Maybe we’ll share that story, but talking yourself out of work is typically not something you do in our industry. And so stay tuned. You’ll find out more. All right. So for any client that is working on a construction project, I think they would want to know, like in your opinion, when is a good time to start pre-construction talks.

Josh Miltenberger (02:43):

So it really is dependent upon the type of project that you have. If you’re gonna go in and you’re gonna be an office tenant in 3000 square feet of space, really you’re gonna work with what’s already there, or some minor changes, you really know your needs. And so your pre-construction effort isn’t heavy there. What’s where you get into a higher need for pre-construction services is when you have a more complex project, a larger scale project, if it’s a new service, there’s different pieces that you need to talk on where there’s programming, where you’re building the blocks of what you need. And then it’s a concept it’s not even on a napkin yet. Truly an idea. So having that pre-construction on early at that point is absolutely critical. And so I would say you are, when you’re bringing on your design team even a capital campaign team, if you’re gonna start fundraising. Yeah. You wanna have that contractor on board right. At the same time, which is definitely different than what’s been done traditionally.

Heather Weerheim (03:37):

You also mentioned design firms or design teams being involved in pre-construction and it is typical that a company will hire a design firm to help them. But what happens is I’m not, and I’m not trying to rag on design firms, but I think at times we have to design to a budget. Right. And that can be difficult when it’s just the design firm and the client, because you can have lots of wishes. Right. So how do we hone those in what do you offer to that client as they’re going through that design process?

Josh Miltenberger (04:08):

So the biggest value that I see in pre-construction are the questions that we ask and really listening into what are the needs of a client, what of the wants, and then what’s the dream. And so the wants are what those things that we always wanna go back to, that’s an absolute, the wants, or if we can, and then there’s the dream, right? And that’s generally when you’re in that concept, that rendering kind of phase at the very start you are dreaming. And so as a construction manager in a pre-construction process, we don’t try to quash the dream. Right. But we want to temper it to make sure that what’s being drawn. What’s being talked about, aligns with the customer’s ultimate goals. And because there’s always a dollar amount. Right. And so if there’s something that’s really important, we wanna focus on making sure that that stays front and center, that we don’t get deviated on something that really is distracting, but is flashy. Right? So it’s staying true to the core, true principles of the project and then delivering beyond that. Yep.

Heather Weerheim (05:12):

I love that. You’re exactly right. So speaking of cost and budget, I think every client wants to know what does it cost to do pre-construction? Is there a cost, right?

Josh Miltenberger (05:22):

So there’s two different ways you can talk about the cost for pre-construction. So there’s the time that we spend, right? So a lot of times, if it’s a quick hit, we’re turning an estimate together. It’s that simple space that 3,000 – 5,000 square foot build out. We don’t have any cost associated with that. That’s really just part of the services that we offer as a baseline. If you get into more of a complex project where they’re not ready to bring on a builder, that’s gonna execute for them in the construction phase. We’ve been brought on as a consultant where we establish hourly rates, the hours needed. So we’re treated more as a consultant, even like a design firm is in that early design phase. Oftentimes if that project becomes a reality, we’ll take and as we’re finalizing our contract structure, we’ll blend that pre-construction, negotiate it and blend it into our fee and just come to an amicable solution.

Josh Miltenberger (06:12):

The other side of cost on that is what’s the cost if you don’t do the pre-construction work. And so you go through the dreaming process with the architect and the design team and you get caught up in the fun of designing your new space, right. And programming it and dreaming and what everything could be. And so you get all the way through the design and then you bid out the project and it comes in, you know, 40% over budget. And so there’s no way that you’re gonna get what’s designed what you’ve set your hopes on. And so there’s the cost of time and also effort and energy. You’re gonna go back to the drawing board. You’re gonna redesign, you’re gonna have to rebid the work. And so just, if you don’t do that pre-construction work. If you don’t invest early with that additional partner, then you often can pay for it on the backend.

Heather Weerheim (06:58):

How do you approach pre-construction?

Josh Miltenberger (07:01):

So like I said earlier, I ask a lot of questions and so really it’s understanding the entire team’s goal. So it’s not just the owner, it’s also the architect and like having that holistic approach rather than focusing on just one area. So as we ask those questions, it really gives us a baseline to what we need to work towards. And so there’s different facets of pre-construction that really make it successful. But one that I like to touch on is the schedule side. And so a project has a timeline, so it has a start and has a finish. And let’s just say, for example, for those that are watching, it’s this long, right? So there’s design is this long construction is the other half. And so if you don’t do a good job of managing your milestones during that pre-construction process, oftentimes it will lengthen right decisions aren’t made.

Josh Miltenberger (07:48):

Either deliverables aren’t hit or decisions aren’t made by the design team or the owner or another entity if you’re waiting on something from the municipality. So that grows the pre-construction side, the design side, where your finished date often doesn’t change. And so what that does is it impacts your overall duration for construction, which then impacts your cost for construction. So if you’re gonna accelerate your schedule, you have to pay for that, whether that’s for materials or for labor. So there’s, it’s really, you’re wanting to hold the whole team accountable, which includes both our internal resources that we have during design and that pre-construction process, but also holding the other team members accountable, steering the ship.

Heather Weerheim (08:30):

And I mean, yeah, it might cost more if they still wanna push that schedule, but at least then they’re aware of it and they might wanna spend them, the client might wanna spend the money to make it happen. I mean, we talked about that absolutely restaurant and where they wanted to be open making money, making cinnamon rolls and you know, so I get it and same with I think we’re finding that too in healthcare with hospital beds of like they’re willing to pay for the money because they can make more money. So it’s

Josh Miltenberger (08:53):

Just, yeah, there’s a value for that date. It’s just understanding again, is that worth it to the client or not? And then you focus your energy in those locations.

Heather Weerheim (09:02):

Yep. We kind of talked about, I guess we’re kind of leaning or going towards the topic of surprises or not having surprises. So would you agree pre-construction really eliminates any uncertainties or unknowns?

Josh Miltenberger (09:15):

I think if you do it well, it does. Yeah. And so any anyone can say, yeah we do pre-construction right. I mean, everybody can do anything in this day and age. And so I think if you wanna do it well, it’s those clear lines of communications setting those expectations and then really the follow up. And so how many of our clients do it once? So they don’t, they don’t understand the vernacular. So we speak in acronyms all the time. So take a step back, you know, listen, and really understand where they’re at reinforce that even to us, it might seem really simple and mundane, but to our clients that haven’t done it before, it’s really important that you have that clear articulation, the clear expectation, and everybody walks away at the end of the day saying, yeah, I understand what we’re doing and I agree with what we’re doing. And so at any point, someone can raise their hand and say, stop. I have a question I don’t understand, help me understand and just have that, that aptitude or that scenario of trust. Okay. So if you build that trust and you can have that honest, authentic conversation, I think that’s absolutely critical to successful pre-construction.

Heather Weerheim (10:22):

Okay. So that you brought up trust in that relationship. So I think this is the perfect segue to talk and give an explanation about how you talked yourself out of work. And in fact, yes, we, maybe aren’t gonna be working on this project now, but how it is gonna benefit us in the future.

Josh Miltenberger (10:38):

Yeah, absolutely. So we get calls a lot from brokers and potential clients that are looking at spaces. And so got a call last summer and they wanted to walk through, it was about 4,000 square feet of space had been built out about three years ago. So it was still really new, really fresh and walking through with the client, they had a floor plan where they had marked up the existing space and we’re talking about some scope changes that they needed. They were trying to get to a certain number of seats and desks. And it was gonna be probably $75,000 worth of workforce, which is a nice TI.

Heather Weerheim (11:11):

And 4,000 square feet and in a space that’s already in good condition. Yeah.

Josh Miltenberger (11:15):

So it was a nice little job, not a little lot of money to you and I, but it’s important to that client. They’re trying to meet a programmatic need. So as we’re walking and I’m talking with the broker, talking with a client, trying to get an understanding of what was really important to them, I started doing account on the existing space. And so we just repurposed one of the rooms and it got them the seats that they needed. And so literally over the course of about 25 minutes walking through space, we went from having a $75,000 project to no project, which quite honestly was okay with me because our revenue’s going to come. Our relationships are going to come. We want to make sure that our team is providing the best value. And so that best value to that client was using that space as it was, as it turns out that got back to the building owner. And he owns a half a dozen buildings in the Metro area and we’ve been doing work for him ever since. And so it just, we built a relationship with that owner without ever having met him. And just because of the way that we approach the work, the way that we communicated and it’s turned out to be a win-win for everyone.

Heather Weerheim (12:20):

I love that. See the big picture, you know, know that, how it’s gonna benefit you in the future. The broker was probably doing the happy dance because he got the deal done. And then the building owners pumped, because they have a new lease and we know that sometimes those are hard to come by these days and then absolutely. And then the business owner didn’t have to spend any additional money. So you got a gold star for that.

Josh Miltenberger (12:41):

That’s right. So I mentioned the 75,000. So you look at these small businesses and you know, a hundred thousand dollars TI really that’s not a lot of money to us. Yeah. Because of what we do every single day. Yeah. If you look at us small business owner, that’s moving into a space that’s 75,000, a hundred thousand dollars of money that they’re putting into their space. Isn’t necessarily really going back into their business as far as their employee training, product development, you know, whatever that is. You need a space to work in. I’m not taking away from that. Because I don’t want to take away all of our work, but we really, it’s hard for those clients to part way with that money because they, as an owner and I come from a farm. So I understand the mechanics of cash flow and what’s important to grow the business and build that business and getting that relationship built based on that conversation was just, it was a win

Heather Weerheim (13:33):

That’s awesome, I love how you throw into the throw in working on a farm into it. Because I feel like in Des Moines, does everyone work on a farm, grow up, living on a farm?

Josh Miltenberger (13:43):

So a lot of us in the construction industry have, that’s just the nature of well you’re either gonna stay on the farm or you go into construction. I fit the stereotype. Yeah.

Heather Weerheim (13:52):

I love it. Let’s bounce over to the cost side of things. So let’s talk about value engineering. And how does that play out through pre-construction and for people out there who maybe don’t know what value engineering is? Can you just touch on that too?

Josh Miltenberger (14:07):

Yeah, absolutely. Okay. So let’s say we go in, we budget a project and it comes in 20% over. And so you go through a process called value engineering and that’s not just cutting costs. So that’s a completely different conversation. Value engineering is lowering your costs while still providing the same programmatic use or performance. And so the owner is getting the same function of their space by doing it differently. Yeah.

Heather Weerheim (14:36):

Like they maybe want solid surface countertops, but you know what, they’re gonna have to go with laminate.

Josh Miltenberger (14:41):

You’re gonna have to go. Yeah, exactly. So you still have the countertop. It still is durable because you can get different grades of plastic laminate, but it’s not gonna be the high end of what they hoped for. And so those are different options and usually you’re looking, you’re not looking at different paint colors that doesn’t really do anything. Yeah. Generally your carpet color or even the carpet material, you’re not making big changes. And so you’re looking at systems, you’re looking at mechanical electrical plumbing systems. How can you do it more efficiently? It’s holistic. And so it’s not need one part. And so that value engineering process is really key to, again, understand the expectation and a client might not understand that variation in the mechanical system where it might be a cheaper install up front, but longer term, your life cycle cost is gonna be higher because it’s not as efficient. And so again, it’s weighing those different things out. Now, if a project comes in 50% over budget, it’s really challenging VE out 50%, right. It’s not okay. And so really that you’re talking holistic scope changes where you might, if you’re building a ground up building, you decrease that footprint size or you take a floor off, but you allow for that expansion for the future. So you give that flexibility. So again, you’re trying to meet the client where they need to be. And I that’s, that can be a challenge.

Heather Weerheim (15:59):

It can be a huge challenge. You also talked about maybe a phased approach, maybe not necessarily a new construction, but in maybe interiors. If you do something one year, what are your, what are your needs right now? And then

Josh Miltenberger (16:10):

Yep, exactly. I mean, you can look at it even at a furniture perspective. So if you’ve got a, you’re gonna have a spot for 24 workers only put in and you only have 10 employees right now, we’ll put in 16 spots for people to work. And that last third, that those last eight spaces can come at a later date. And so it’s just a different way to approach it from a cash flow flow perspective.

Heather Weerheim (16:31):

How do you look into the few for construction and pricing trends? Like, so when your client is coming to you for help and they’re like, what does this, what does this look like a year from now? How do you, how do you predict the future? Do you go into a crystal ball?

Josh Miltenberger (16:44):

So, I don’t have a crystal ball. I don’t have that little magic eight ball that we had as kids and like shake it in the room that doesn’t work. It’s really just been volatile to be frank. And so from a material perspective and from a labor perspective, it’s just really challenging to forecast out because the data that we have over the last 10 years doesn’t really apply to what we’ve experienced the last two years. And so it’s really advising them what it costs now and giving a range of what that escalation might look like. Yeah. We’ve seen materials level off in certain areas, but other areas have still been volatile. The other part is actually the availability of manpower, the availability of materials, as we’ve seen supply chain issues, just really across the board, whether that’s mechanical systems, roofing systems. We’ve had to switch roofing types because we couldn’t get the mast for one part of the roof.

Josh Miltenberger (17:36):

Like we could have the entire assembly, but there’s these little glue pucks that we weren’t able to get. Yeah. And so it’s just, it’s small stuff like that. That’s never been a problem before. So it’s really unprecedented. Right. And you know, quite honestly owners are pretty understandable because they’ve seen the impact in other avenues of their business. And it’s not a secret right now that it’s a challenge. And so you forecast the best of your ability. You say, if you buy it now, this is the price we’ve seen this kind of price change over the last 12 months. This is what it could be in the next 12 months. But it’s really the historical escalation factors that we have don’t trend well, moving forward. Right. And so it’s really just making sure that they understand that and you can put a number to it, but you always have to verify that number.

Heather Weerheim (18:22):

Right. So kind of what I’m hearing is construction material pricing is volatile, but then also that you need, pre-construction more than ever, right. To just to get people to understand that where we’re at. Right.

Josh Miltenberger (18:36):

Absolutely. And again, it’s asking the right questions, what are the big pieces of it? And then is there a different way that we can approach your project? And so if you look at a warehouse and so right now in our market, the industrial market is just absolutely red hot. Yep. So we have data centers, we have distribution. And so it’s very strong in that sense. And so traditionally precast wall panels are a standard for those warehouses. Well, there’s a primary distributor of precast wall panels in the Des Moines market does a great job. Very cost competitive, but limited bed space because it’s, you’re not gonna increase your plant size just for a stint of years. Right. And so there’s opportunities to look at other options; tilt up precast is a system that’s not been widely used in central Iowa for a number of years, but that’s an option of coming back to where you’re casting those wall panels on and then tilting them up. So again, getting a very similar product, but getting in a different way. And so those are the creative things that we’re having to try to figure out as we move forward.

Heather Weerheim (19:40):

So leave it to construction, to go back to an older way of doing things first. I mean, there

Josh Miltenberger (19:45):

There’s other new things. I mean, we’re seeing a lot more prefabrication where you’re coming out and very sophisticated in that way, the tilt up wall panels, they’re not unsophisticated. It’s just, it’s a simple, it’s just a different way of doing things. It’s just a simple way of doing it. And so there’s been a lot of different assets or different facets that we are trying to do on the pre-con side, getting smarter with how we build, because we talked a lot about material, but labor is gonna be a big challenge coming up ever since I’ve come into the construction market. And it’s we’re coming closer to 20 years. Not quite there yet, but it’s always the same. Right? Right. So we have this labor shortage that is coming up for carpenters, for laborers, for sheet metal workers. And so we’re gonna have to figure out different ways to build. And a lot of that has to do with prefabrication offsite. We were just talking about it at lunch today, about doors. And so on a project that I managed a few years ago, we put all of the door hardware on at the door suppliers shop. And so our carpenters in the field didn’t have to do it. And so it lessened the work on site and kept it in a controlled environment when it was being built. And so there’s just, we’re having to be more creative with how we do the work.

Heather Weerheim (20:59):

That’s a really good example. That’s amazing. And if you thought of that good job, did you, can you take credit for that?

Josh Miltenberger (21:04):

I can’t take credit. We had another PM on the team that managed it, did a great job with it. We, as a team reviewed it and agreed to move forward with it because it was something that was new at the time,

Heather Weerheim (21:16):

That could be time consuming. You’ll probably save a lot of time. Alright. To wrap things up three key things that people need to know about pre-construction

Josh Miltenberger (21:27):

So there are three key components to successful pre-construction. So there’s a cost management, which we’ve talked on, the scope management and the schedule management. And so really the first one is that schedule management. So it’s managing those milestones and that’s really important that we’re hitting the deliverable dates. So those early questions, if you’re doing town hall meetings, program discussions, or design deliverables, whether that’s a schematic design of documents or just a narrative talking about the project. After that, the owner has to make a decision. And so part of that has to do with our costing. And so it’s having accurate costing with the level of information that we have and then just the delivery dates of those things, that way, that your period, that you’ve allowed for design and programming and costing all stays set. You’re not eeking into that construction side of things. The scope management then is very important because we’ve all seen it in the industry. You have a set of documents and it just seems like there are more things in there than what we talked about. So it’s really having that clear delineation between what’s in the drawings, what’s in the scope because at our schematic pricing, I can guarantee that not everything’s on the drawings that we have in our scope and just making sure that those two align with each other. So our scope and the documents, but then also the owner’s expectations

Heather Weerheim (22:50):

I have to stop you, because I can’t tell you how perfect that is to lead into this is gonna be a little bit sales-y for a minute. But Spencer made a note of this. He wanted to make sure to note how accurate Greiner is to the final product. So how accurate we are from a DD set to CDs. And he said that our pre-con team, our estimating team is always within 1.8%. Yeah.

Josh Miltenberger (23:11):

And that’s phenomenal. Yep.

Heather Weerheim (23:12):

Yeah. So, okay. I just had to break.

Josh Miltenberger (23:14):

No, absolutely. We’ve got a great team doing that. Yeah.

Heather Weerheim (23:17):

That’ll be my one plug. Okay, perfect. Sorry.

Josh Miltenberger (23:20):

No, that’s great. And so really if you have your, if you’re managing your schedule well, providing that good cost data throughout and then managing the scope expectations. Those three things really lead to a successful pre-construction process. Yeah. If you have one of those fall off, then the wheels are off and you’re gonna have a disconnect between the team members that are involved. And that’s really what we wanna try to avoid.

Heather Weerheim (23:43):

I was gonna say, you never want to have that at the job. Well, awesome. Josh. I think that that is about it. Unless you have anything else to add?

Josh Miltenberger (23:51):

No, pre-construction is my favorite part of what we do. It’s just fun to really grasp what an owner is looking for and ask the questions, have them understand what that is and see it come to fruition. The favorite example I have since I’ve been at Greiner is that we, we met with an owner of a body shop. It was an atypical project for us, but she was having some challenges, getting good information from the construction market. And so we had a meeting and just listen to her talk and we had to move her front entrance and her wash bay door from the west elevation to the south elevation. So that took her off the street scape. So she was super concerned that she wasn’t gonna have this main entrance visible to the traffic because she does get a fair amount of drive by traffic. And so hearing that we partnered with a local architecture firm and I had a conversation with Tom and said, Tom want you to work your architecture magic. I want you to take out that trace paper that we all love and your black Sharpie. And I want you to squiggle some lines on it and give some options for what her space could look like. Because they can do it in the computer now. But I think it’s more authentic if it’s actually on the trace paper, it’s just, it’s that be

Heather Weerheim (25:06):

The 20 year construction experience career, but I love it. Okay.

Josh Miltenberger (25:10):

Yeah. And so we met and met with her and walked her through three or four different options that really focused on that. And we were the only builder on the pursuit side. So this is before there’s any documents. We had a napkin sketch that we were basing all of our pricing off of. And that meeting with her with the options is what won us, the project. We weren’t the low contractor. We weren’t the high contractor for our budget, but we best understood her concerns and her needs for the project. And that’s what got us the work. So that’s my favorite story since I’ve started with Greiner.

Heather Weerheim (25:41):

You listened, she needed you to listen and she needed us at that moment. So that’s awesome. Yeah. And how did the project turn out?

Josh Miltenberger (25:48):

We’re in the throes of construction right now. Okay. And so it got delayed a little bit last year, just working through some things with the city, but what’s amazing is that the final product is very close to that hand sketch that we did just under a year ago.

Heather Weerheim (26:03):

How cool is that? It’s great. Awesome. Well, Josh, thanks again for making the, from Des Moines all the way to our Minneapolis studio.

Josh Miltenberger (26:10):

It’s a short drive.

Heather Weerheim (26:10):

Yeah. Right. Well, I’ll let you try to get out before traffic get’s bad. But thank you so much for your time.

Josh Miltenberger (26:18):


Heather Weerheim (26:18):

We’ll see you soon.

Josh Miltenberger (26:18):

Sounds great.