Leave the Stone Age, Part II: Pricing the Cost of Construction in the 21st Century
Barry LePatner Aug. 1, 2013, 6 a.m.
In my previous column, I discussed the failure of the design/construction industry to embrace technology, which restricts the much-needed evolution of this $1 trillion industry.
In particular, the design/construction industry lacks a standardized, searchable database that allows owners to review the current costs of all of the various products used to build their projects.
The innovation of computer-aided design (CAD) has, by all definitions, not increased material productivity. And fees paid by owners to architects and engineers have, by most standards, not increased, even while various firms have adopted newer design technologies as they emerge.
Hence, architects—as the principal designers for every construction project—are without tools that would make their jobs easier in much the same way that lawyers saw a huge benefit in doing legal research with the advent of computer-aided research tools such as Lexis\Nexis more than two decades ago.
Our nation’s architects and engineers—and the contractors who build what they design—operate daily in the most inefficient way. As a result, owners are at the mercy of the contractors, who arbitrarily set the prices of those various products, driving up costs at the owners’ expense.
A solution is on the way.
Bringing greater efficiency to the creative processes of the design team—and developing the first true marketplace for vendors, suppliers and manufacturers to sell their products directly to architects and owners during the design process—will save substantial costs and reduce the time it takes to design and construct these new projects.
By early 2014, a new software platform will change all of this by creating the first nationwide marketplace that owners and their architects can use to create real-time pricing for project costs as a project is being designed.
Known as MAstrbldr.com, this new platform will create a direct marketplace for the hundreds of thousands of vendors, suppliers and manufacturers providing goods for each project. MAstrbldr.com will directly introduce these products during the design process, enabling architects and owners to bid successfully for the products they want—at a price that will be substantially below current market costs. Savings are expected to range from 10 to 25 percent for each competitively bid product.
Once a true marketplace for products used in the construction of our nation’s built environment is in place, owners—both public and private—will see immediate benefits from a noticeable decrease in the cost of construction. The impact on the economy will be striking, and the transparent marketplace will replace the phony, opaque one that contractors have held hostage for decades.
Welcome to the 21st century!