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Saving time and money via Fast Tracking.

In today's highly volatile economic climate, properly managed Fast Track construction offers project owners the potential for significant time and cost savings.

In its simplest terms, Fast Tracking a project means that project design and construction proceed simultaneously. The key to the success of this process is the proper scheduling and management of the design effort to allow contract documents to be relcased on a phased basis before the entire design has been completed. In a properly fast tracked project, each of the phased bid packages are as complete, coordinated and deficiency free as they are when a conventional design process is utilized.

A conventional] design process does not normally result in the phased completion of major design elements. Foundation drawings are not totally complete significantly in advance of the drawings for the superstructure, and the super-structure design itself is subject to change well into the interior design process. Therefore, the entire set of contract drawings evolves simultaneously.

The coordination of architectural, structural and mechanical drawings, if performed at all, frequently occurs towards the end of the design process, thereby resulting in changes that can have far reaching ramifications all the way back to the previously designed building foundations.

Proper Fast Tracking requires comprehensive planning and coordination, and a change in the way design documents are prepared. This is best achieved through the use of a Program Manager experienced in the overall management and coordination of integrated design and construction efforts.

The process involves three phases: Pre-construction Bidding, and Construction.


First: Working with the design team, a detailed critical path design schedule is developed to identify all of the tasks that are required to complete each design drawing, including the owner decision making process. Final owner decisions must be made in an orderly and timely fashion during the design process.

Second: From the design schedule, those drawings which comprise each bid package are identified along with all of the information necessary to complete them. Frequently, the design work controlling the completion of early bid packages is, in fact, restrained by owner decisions and design calculations that might normally be based upon later bid packages. Often, these restraints are unnecessary, and with some modifications to the design process, and cooperation by the owner, the necessary information can be finalized earlier in the process.

Third: Revise the design schedule to expedite owner/designer decision making needed for early bid packages so as to unhook them from dependency on later elements of design. This step is fundamental to the Fast Track process as it alters the normal design process and seeks to accelerate calculation and design elements that are usually done later.

Fourth: A detailed and organized review and coordination process should be explicitly defined and incorporated into the design schedule to insure proper interfacing of structural, architectural and mechanical drawings. Where future elements of design have not proceeded far enough, safe estimates must be made in conjunction with the mechanical engineers regarding such things as wall thicknesses, chase sizes and ceiling heights necessary to accommodate mechanical work that may not yet have been fully designed. Similarly, foundation design will be influenced by building floor loadings which will, in turn, depend upon superstructure design and potential owner input. It is recognized that some overdesign may be necessary to accommodate uncertainties and preserve future design flexibility.

Fifth: Standard pre-construction activities such as cost estimating and value engineering are just as effective on Fast Tracked projects as they are on conventionally constructed jobs. These procedures, however, must focus on individual bid packages with a clear recognition that money saved in one area could result in cost increases to future bid packages.

Once a bid package has been issued, it should, for all practical purposes, be considered frozen and not subject to future change unless the reasons are supremely compelling.

All too often, change orders are issued on Fast Track projects to achieve relatively minor cost savings in later design packages, without full realization of the negative time and cost impact of the change on the overall project,

Sixth: As the design evolves, a detailed integrated pre-construction Master CPM schedule is developed for the construction of the project. Using this tool, each bid package can be properly interfaced with the other work on the project, and comprehensive specifications can be prepared for each trade clearly identifying the interfaces necessary for the success of the Fast Track process.


Each bid package issued on a Fast Track project must contain specific schedules and detailed information regarding how that trade is expected to interface with ongoing work as well as with contracts that have not yet been awarded.

During bid negotiations, the program manager must clearly set forth existing job conditions and what is expected of each Trade Contractor. Unwarranted promises of optimum working conditions, made in order to obtain reduced trade prices, simply set the stage for future conflicts and potential claims.


A successful Fast Track construction program requires a pro-active management role by the owner's program manager. The project manager must aggressively manage and coordinate the job and cannot hide behind exculpatory contract clauses that seek to shift the burden for job coordination elsewhere.

The detailed Master project schedule, developed by the Program Manager, is the blueprint for the project management effort. Each trade is given individual scheduling parameters which are coordinated through the overall Master Schedule. These commitments can only be met if the Master Schedule is maintained. Comprehensive schedule control on a Fast Track project keeps the lid on a Pandora's box of conflicts, and prevents finger pointing.

Another priority of the program manager is the intensive review of all project change order requests. Change orders should be scrutinized for their validity and for their impact on the overall project schedule. Successful Fast Tracking depends upon containing the impact of necessary changes within the directly affected trade, and keeping Owner initiated changes during construction to an absolute minimum.
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Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:method of construction in which design and construction proceed simultaneously
Author:Geller, Richard
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:May 19, 1993
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