Houston design build firm breaks down why value engineering is a smart move

Design is as much a science as it is an art. Photo courtesy of CIVE

The method of value engineering, where less expensive materials and methods are used without sacrificing functionality, certainly has its benefits.

While you must weigh the pros and cons of using it in each unique situation, the experts at CIVE are ready to lay out the overall argument for value engineering. The Houston-based, engineering-driven design build firm serves residential, commercial, and industrial markets, and relies on a commitment to excellence in all projects.

Its mantra — "Any engineer can create a design, but true expertise lies in creating designs that would incur the least cost possible, without compromising integrity of the structure" — reinforces that design is as much a science as it is an art.

Why should value engineering be used?
Value engineering allows commercial developers the capability to obtain more value for their design, contracting, and build-outs. This process not only helps provide advantages for the initial construction, but also add value on a longer term basis.

The initial costs of building a structure only accounts for 11 percent of the overall building costs of its life cycle. While that number may seem small, if this capital allocation is done incorrectly it can significantly impact the lifespan and ongoing maintenance costs that building owners can experience.

Value engineering provides great advantages to building owners and ultimately their tenants with a better quality structure. But let's be clear: The objective of value engineering is not to cut costs or to lower standards, but to provide innovative approaches and help identify ways to improve dependability, functionality, and performance.

When should it be used?
The process of value engineering can be applied in areas where a construction team typically experiences delays or excessive costs to help identify and alleviate the problem. The end result is a more efficient process that can reduce waste, rework, and design modifications that can significantly increase a project budget and/or cause schedule delays.

A few of the benefits
The benefits of value engineering are numerous, but in summary they can assist construction projects by:

  • Reducing expenses
  • Minimizing waste
  • Refining the project scope
  • Increasing stakeholder consensus
  • Maintaining budget allocations

Overall, this adds more value to the building owner with more savings over the lifetime of a structure with enhanced functionality. A company well versed in the practice of value engineering can use it to finish a project on time and on budget for their clients.

Implementing value engineering
Here's some good news: value engineering can be done at any part of the commercial construction process. While it would ideally be incorporated into the initial stages, it can be easily adapted to improve a project stage at any point. The design phase allows the architect or engineer to work with the client to come up with required features, functionality, and proposed solutions.

During the planning stage the general contractor and commercial developer come to an agreement on the expected project cost. The third stage of development is the construction phase, when the building takes place and any proposed changes can be included that don't affect the primary function and design of the structure.

Why it works
Unlike most, CIVE identifies value engineering as not merely a tool to cut corners, but a way to truly and effectively deliver engineering excellence by designing to the last inch — without over-designing or jeopardizing integrity of the structure — that can put redundant budget pressures on projects.

CIVE's ability to truly value engineer each of its projects comes with experience and technical expertise, which has saved its clients hundreds of thousands of dollars in investment capital over time.

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Building Houston

 
 

Ty Audronis founded Tempest Droneworx to put drone data to work. Photo courtesy of Tempest Droneworx

Ty Audronis quite literally grew up in Paradise. But the Northern California town was destroyed by wildfire in 2018, including Audronis’ childhood home.

“That’s why it’s called the Campfire Region,” says the founder, who explains that the flames were started by a spark off a 97-year-old transmission line.

But Audronis, who has literally written the book on designing purpose-built drones — actually, more than one — wasn’t going to sit back and let it happen again. Currently, wildfire prevention is limited to the “medieval technology” of using towers miles apart to check for smoke signals.

“By the time you see smoke signals, you’ve already got a big problem,” Audronis says.

His idea? To replace that system with real-time, three-dimensional, multi-spectral mapping, which exactly where his company, Tempest Droneworx, comes in.

When asked how he connected with co-founder Dana Abramowitz, Audronis admits that it was Match.com — the pair not only share duties at Tempest, they are engaged to be married. It was a 2021 pre-SXSW brainstorming session at their home that inspired the pair to start Tempest.

When Audronis mentioned his vision of drone battalions, where each is doing a specialized task, Abramowitz, a serial entrepreneur and founder who prefers to leave the spotlight to her partner, told him that he shouldn’t give the idea away at a conference, they should start a company. After all, Audronis is a pioneer in the drone industry.

“Since 1997, I’ve been building multicopters,” he says.

Besides publishing industry-standard tomes, he took his expertise to the film business. But despite its name, Tempest is a software company and does not make drones.

That software is called Harbinger. Audronis explains that the real-time management and visualization solution is viewable on practically any device, including mobile or augmented reality. The system uses a video game engine for viewing, but as Audronis puts it, “the magic happens” on the back end.

Harbinger is not just drone-agnostic, but can use crowd-sourced data as well as static sensors. With the example of wildfires in mind, battalions can swarm an affected area to inform officials, stopping a fire before it gets out of hand. But fires are far from Harbinger’s only intended use.

The civilian version of Harbinger will be available for sale at the end of 2023 or beginning of 2024. For military use, Navy vet Audronis says that the product just entered Technical Readiness Level (TRL) 5, which means that they are about 18 months away from a full demo. The latest news for Tempest is that earlier this month, it was awarded a “Direct to Phase II” SBIR (Government Small Business Innovation Research) contract with the United States Department of the Air Force.

Not bad for a company that was, until recently, fully bootstrapped. He credits his time with the Houston Founder Institute, from which he graduated last February, and for which he now mentors, with many of the connections he’s made, including SBIR Advisors, who helped handle the complex process of getting their SBIR contract.

And he and Abramowitz have no plans to end their collaborations now that they’re seeing growth.

“Our philosophy behind [our business] isn’t keeping our cards close to our vest,” says Audronis. “Any potential competitors, we want to become partners.”

The company was just the two founders until five weeks ago, when Tempest’s size doubled, including a full-time developer. Once Tempest receives its SIBR check, the team will grow again to include more developers. They are currently looking for offices in the city. As Audronis says, Tempest Droneworx is “100-percent made in Houston.” Paradise may have been lost, but with Harbinger soon to be available, such a disaster need never happen again.

Dana Abramowitz and Ty Audronis co-founded Tempest Droneworks. Photo courtesy of Tempest Droneworx

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