With the ever-rising efforts to promote an optimal indoor environment in all kinds of buildings, Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing (MEP) systems are extremely important in modern buildings. However, one of the most common issues with MEP systems is that they represent over 30% of the construction costs in many buildings.
The good thing is that there are many ways to cut down the cost of MEP systems without compromising performance and efficiency. With smart designs, along with cost reduction, some aspects of the project can be further improved.
Depending on the building project, the number of effective measures varies. This article will walk you through the 4 strategies that apply to almost every project and can effectively reduce the cost of MEP installations. These measures can also help a real estate developer complete the construction project with little to no change orders.
Tip #1 – Involving Contractors & Supplies from the Start
For developers and construction managers, change orders are a nightmare and can cause disruptions in the projects. An effective strategy for building a better communication foundation for the project is to get all the associated parties involved from the get go. This way, important factors like design requirements, equipment dimensions, etc. are clear and transparent.
In projects that implement prefabrication and modular construction, clear communication is even more important and should be prioritized. This is mainly because the MEP systems are built-in the prefabricated components that are later assembled on the project’s site.
Since the pandemic, communication strategies and collaborative techniques experienced tremendous growth. When used in construction projects, the modern design software allows working on the same building model, detect clashes among components and notify immediately all at the same time.
Tip #2 – Optimizing the MEP Installations Layout
MEP installations are complex and have various components, but the ones that need the most space are often hidden from plain sight. For instance, buildings have thousands of feet of conduit, air ducts, and piping which are concealed behind the walls and ceilings. Finding the efficient layout for these components is extremely challenging with the conventional 2D design software. However, with 3D design software like Revit, the MEP system layouts can be optimized much easily.
An inefficient layout results in additional expenses like more materials and more skilled labor. With an efficient design, the excess of materials is eliminated and thus leads to savings.
When all the associated parties are involved from the beginning of the project (Tip #1), architects and design engineers can focus on identifying the optimal layout once all the locations, dimensions, and installation requirements are known clearly.
Tip #3 – Improving the Building Envelope
Large HVAC equipment like boilers and chillers are among the most expensive MEP components. However, their price is mostly determined by the nameplate capacity. There’s a common misconception that having oversized equipment is a good thing. However, the truth is quite the opposite when it comes to considering expenses, as the oversizing makes maintenance more expensive.
For a building with an efficient thermal envelope, the indoor temperature is effectively maintained regardless of the weather outside. On the other hand, if the building envelope is inefficient, maintaining a comfortable indoor temperature would result in higher expenses even after using efficient HVAC equipment.
Tip #4 – Plan the Project Carefully
An effective plan is like the foundation for every project and lack of planning, more than often, leads to additional unplanned expenses, even if you have a professional design and experienced contractors.
The common types of issues due to lack of planning are –
- Shortage of labor when there’s plenty of activity right from the beginning.
- Forced to pay overtime due to tight deadlines.
Seasonal factors must also be considered in the plan. With the current seasonal shift, HVAC installers may be busy with projects in multiple buildings due to summer. This may lead to a delay in installing the HVAC components.