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Detailing: Rules of Engagement

Continuously evolving detailing and Building Information Modeling (BIM) technology gives Faith Technologies a full range of services beyond that of electrical contracting. At Faith Technologies, each project we perform work on is unique from the last, therefore it’s important to properly evaluate every opportunity that comes our way to decide if (1) it makes sense to use detailing, and (2) when we should involve our virtual design and construction (VDC) department.

Although several things must be considered when making that decision on your project, one of the most important is the total labor hours included in the estimate. For example, if you have 4,500 labor hours in the project, history tells us that to perform detailing on this type of project, the estimate from the VDC department would be somewhere between 2.5-3% of the total labor hours on the project. (This does not include the building information modeling (BIM) process.) Using the high side of that percentage, that would come out to around 135 labor hours.

The total labor hours spent on VDC varies and is based on what the VDC department is requested to provide for the project. There are several factors that can help lead you to the right decision. A project that has an accelerated schedule may make sense to detail more heavily, so that can prefabrication can be used, which can greatly decrease the labor needed on the project itself.

When is the right time for detailing process to begin on the project? That’s a great question, as it depends. Is this a design-build project, or a plan-spec project? These two project types are very different. In design-build projects, VDC departments should be involved right away from a consulting angle. By having engineering and VDC department involved on this type of project together at the beginning, the team can devise the best plan possible for your project before the design process actually begins. Once the design process has begun, the VDC is available to answer any questions the engineering department may have about the constructability aspects within the electrical design. Plan-spec projects are a bit more cut and dry. Upon award of this type of project, the detailing process is best suited to begin once the Issue for Construction (IFC) drawings have been released.

Regardless of the type of project, there several key tasks that must be completed both before and during the detailing process. From kick-off meetings, and detailing/prefabrication planning meetings, to project supervision involvement in both design and detailing, and developing a start point for preconstruction activities. Each of these components is vitally important, especially the last item, as all parties involved need to be aware of the set budget that needs to be closely adhered to during any and all preconstruction activities.