Category: Preconstruction

A Legacy Lives On: Giving a Storied Residence Hall a New Place to Call Home

Not only do residence halls house college students, they also house fond memories and mark the beginning of lifelong friendships and connections. Some historic residence halls have even housed generations over the years, making living in them a family tradition. When alumni visit these halls, they are reminded of so many memories from their college years and feel emotionally connected to their former homes which will always hold a special place in their hearts.

Tutwiler–one of these historic residence halls is located on the campus of the University of Alabama and is being rebuilt to house even more students and memories.

According to HPM President Mike Lanier, “To my memory, this is the single largest publicly bid project HPM has ever managed in our 22+ year history.”

The HPM preconstruction team and the University’s project teams have collaborated on this project over the last three years.

“The teams started working together on the project from its conception and are dedicated to ensuring the project is on schedule for completion and move-in ready for University students for the fall of 2022,” said Trent Hall, Senior Project Manager.

The five-story replacement to the historic residence hall includes a project budget of more than $140 million. It will exceed 300,000 square-feet and house 1,200+ freshman female students.

“The University and our team worked tirelessly cultivating the market for general contractors and subcontractors to bid the project in this overheated market we are all in, canvassing regionally trying to get qualified firms to pursue the project,” Lanier said. “Through it all they stuck to who we are and what we do at HPM day in and day out: evaluate, analyze, strategize, advise, listen, and counsel, but mostly lead.”

The Tutwiler residence hall will include double-occupancy units and community-style living spaces, and a feature of the residence hall will include keyless entry to the building. Additionally, the residence hall will include a food service venue, a storm shelter, and satellite Housing and Residential Community offices. Furthermore, furnishings are included in the project to fully equip all residence rooms, common areas, peripherals, and offices.  Construction of the new residence hall began this fall and is scheduled to be completed in time for the 2022 fall semester.

HPM Selected as Program Manager for Buffalo Rock Distribution Hub Expansion

HPM will serve as the program manager for Buffalo Rock’s 1 million-square-foot expansion in Birmingham, Alabama. It is the soft drink distributor’s largest infrastructure investment to date. This includes the renovation of an 895,000-square-foot warehouse and an approximately 120,000-square-foot office building, which will serve as the central distribution hub for the premier provider of food and beverage products. HPM’s Senior Program Development Manager Bruce Quisno and Project Manager Jeremiah Owen will oversee the project. 

Buffalo Rock acquired the properties located at 400 Industrial Drive and 800 Lakeshore Drive earlier this year and recently announced plans for the massive expansion, which includes a $75 million investment in new technologies, infrastructure improvements and property renovations, leading to the creation of up to 50 new jobs in the initial phase of the project. As part of a strategic growth initiative to expand over the next decade, these state-of-the-art upgrades will double Buffalo Rock’s output, provide 90 loading docks, reduce the number of touches and improve efficiencies.  

This office acquisition will significantly improve employee experience, increase productivity and allow for future growth. The renovated facilities are expected to be operational by the fall of 2021. Hoar Construction and GMC have partnered to be the lead Design-Build team for the project.  

“Our team selected HPM for many reasons, but most notably because they demonstrated the ability to offer a full suite of planning solutions that carried us from acquisition to operation, and we couldn’t be happier with their performance at this stage of the journey,” said Matthew Dent, Buffalo Rock President and Chief Operating Officer. “We are not only moving with speed, but we are considering all options and addressing budget questions in real time as we bring this campus restoration to life. I am confident our employee-partners will love the experience this investment creates, and I am certain our customers will see the benefits this investment brings them in terms of service and quality.”  

Buffalo Rock first tapped HPM to oversee programming and planning for the initial stages of the project. HPM led site analysis efforts, including a site assessment involving environmental studies and the hiring of consultants to perform upfront due diligence, which ultimately enabled Buffalo Rock to purchase the property. By performing a cost analysis and identifying which areas of the project to prioritize, HPM helped Buffalo Rock and its partners identify and control costs in planning, condensing the overall project timeline.  

“I’m pleased with the strategic planning services we were able to provide Buffalo Rock as the company scouted various sites for its expansion, which led them to finding the ideal location off of Lakeshore Drive in Birmingham,” said HPM’s Quisno. “HPM’s expertise in preconstruction planning and site analysis positioned us as the perfect partner to ensure that every detail of the new site was carefully scrutinized and accounted for before any decisions were made, and now we’re ready to oversee the execution of Buffalo Rock’s expansion plans. I know our team is excited to see Buffalo Rock’s growth goals realized, and we’re honored to serve as a strategic partner for a company that continues to invest in Birmingham by expanding its operations here, creating jobs and partnering with the City to develop our community’s workforce.” 

This assignment adds to our growing portfolio of clients and projects within the food and beverage industry, including the recent expansion and improvement of Royal Cup Coffee’s manufacturing facilities in Birmingham. The project received a Manufacturing Innovation Award from ProFood World in 2019.   

Preconstruction Success: C.D. Fulkes Middle School

Over the last nine years, HPM has consistently served the needs of Round Rock Independent School District (RRISD) in Round Rock, Texas, through the work of our Audit and Contract Services Group. When the district announced its $500+ million capital bond program in 2018, administrators knew they needed a trusted advisor with the experience and expertise necessary to lead them through such a challenging program. HPM was selected to serve as program manager, and our role with the district includes the three-year management of the planning, design and construction of several large projects, including a new elementary school, a new aquatics practice center, expansion of existing schools and the modernization of two high schools. From preconstruction to closeout, we provide strong advice and tangible cost savings at every step of the way.

As with any K-12 project, finding opportunities to save money is essential. RRISD’s bond program includes the demolition of several buildings to make way for the construction of a new three-story facility for C.D. Fulkes Middle School. Our Preconstruction Services team was brought in during the design-development phase and quickly jumped into analyzing the initial estimate provided by the general contractor, which was over the original budget. With an attention to detail that leaves no stone unturned, they discovered numerous areas to save the owner thousands of dollars through more accurate estimating.

“Essentially from the day we got involved, we were able to work with the GC and architect and brought it down by 8.5 percent,” said Jake Chapman, HPM Preconstruction Manager. “Unless an owner has the background and resources that we have, this is not something they would pick up on.”

Jake and others from the Preconstruction team connected with several subcontractors in Austin whose estimates brought the overall budget down significantly. Armed with our historical cost data and subcontractor outreach information, the GC and HPM were able to successfully reconcile the budget and ultimately bring down the price for the owner.

“There is typically always somewhere you can save money, but when we aren’t there to check it along the way, it might not happen,” Chapman said.

About Preconstruction Services
HPM’s Preconstruction Services set the table for a successful project and make the entire building process easier for the owner. We offer expertise in planning a construction project before the actual construction begins, including feasibility studies, cost analyses, estimating, master scheduling, and design team structure and selection.

A Q&A with HPM’s Electrical Engineering Expert

HPM is committed to high-quality preconstruction services, offering a variety of services to meet our clients’ needs. One of the reasons we stand out in the industry as leaders is that we have mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering (MEP) expertise in house. Electrical Preconstruction Manager Kyle Talley focuses on the electrical and low voltage aspects of our clients’ programs. Before joining HPM in 2019, Talley worked for a large electrical subcontractor in Birmingham, and worked in the field on various construction projects for electrical estimating. He has extensive experience as a chief electrical estimator with two decades of experience in the construction industry. For this Q&A, we asked Talley about his favorite HPM project, the value he brings to the preconstruction team, and more.  


HPM: What does a typical day look like for you? 

Kyle Talley: The typical day here starts at 7am with email catch-up and daily task management. From there, my day is filled with a combination of quiet, pensive work and collaboration meetings with our various program teams. Specifically, daily tasks include design analysis for cost and constructability, identification of cost savings opportunities, cost forecasting, quantity survey, change order review, design alternative ideas, facility assessment, design analysis for conformance with owner needs, collaboration meetings, and meeting prep and follow-up. 

HPM: How do you bring value to our clients?  

KT: With an 18-year background in electrical contracting and most of those spent estimating and bidding on electrical work, I bring a behind-the-storefront perspective on electrical contracting and specifically how electrical contracting work is priced. We use the same electrical estimating software that garners an 80% market share among electrical contractors, which allows us a unique way to make our estimates more accurate and our change order reviews more impactful. In a lot of cases, we know the pricing better than the average electrical estimator and we bring that value to our clients every day. 

HPM: Why is it important for clients to share their vision with our preconstruction team early in the project?  

KT: We believe that the owner’s vision for success is paramount; it is what the end product will ultimately be judged against. We consider the owner’s vision to be our goal and we strive to reach that goal as smoothly as possible. The sooner we know the owner’s vision, the sooner we can go to work toward that goal. And the sooner we can work toward that goal, the smoother the whole program will run on its way to crossing the goal line. 

HPM: Can you tell us about one of your favorite projects at HPM?  

KT: Earlier this year, I was approached to analyze the potential cost for adding color changing sports lighting to a stadium project. The onsite contractor had given an initial estimate to make the change and, then later, revised the estimate upward. Thankfully, our company had experience with just this sort of thing and had cost data for this exact type of system. Having access to this historical data and data on the new stadium proved invaluable in figuring up the anticipated cost for the work. Using the resources we had, and not available to the onsite contractor, and combining those with the estimating experience we possess, the anticipated cost to make this change came in at roughly half of the onsite contractor’s initial cost estimate. This has led the owner to consider other options for performing the work, but also gives the owner a powerful negotiating tool with which to engage the on-site contractor.  

The Value of Preconstruction Services

Preconstruction Services evolved out of cost estimating to incorporate the many activities typically involved in planning a project, including scheduling, constructability reviews, phasing and logistics, materials and systems analysis, value engineering, life cycle cost analysis and more. Preconstruction sets the stage for a successful build. It’s also an effective strategy for adding value to your project. Though there are many examples, risk mitigation and cost saving opportunities are two common areas in which preconstruction can add value. 

Risk Mitigation 

Every construction project comes with its own set of challenges and risks. If you fail to identify and plan for a potential risk, you are accepting the risk without adjusting to reduce its impact on the overall project. Fortunately, most risks can be managed with the appropriate planning and project management.   

Common risks include: 

  • – Unknown site conditions 
  • – Poorly defined project scope 
  • – Less than optimal selection & application of building systems 
  • – Mismanaging change orders 
  • – Issues with subcontractors and suppliers 
  • – Availability of building materials 
  • – Equipment damage 
  • – Safety hazards 
  • – Poorly written contracts 
  • – Increase in material costs 

There are numerous ways our preconstruction specialists mitigate risk on a project, including ensuring that the budget is accurate, researching project site conditions and minimizing changes and variations during the design and construction phases. Weather delays and resource shortages can be unpredictable, but an experienced preconstruction team creates a schedule with these potential risks in mind. There are risks involved with every construction project. Taking steps to mitigate those risks could mean the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful project.  

Cost Savings 

When not properly managed, construction risks can be costly. On the other hand, owners save money in the long run when those risks are mitigated up front. Owners should adopt a mindset of ‘spend now to save later’ because the return on investment for preconstruction services is significant.  

Preconstruction is also the time to identify value engineering opportunities that will cut costs. With their unique experience and knowledge of different materials and techniques, our preconstruction team may be able to spot areas in the project design where a minor change will result in major cost savings. HPM’s project leadership has saved our clients millions over the years. 

Saving Money Through Preconstruction Expertise

By Michael Eskew, Mechanical Preconstruction Manager


HPM’s experienced preconstruction team can identify value engineering opportunities that will cut costs for your project, and the sooner we are involved, the better. We can point to preconstruction value stories across the many unique industries we serve, but one recent example comes from a K-12 client who wanted to convert a large retail distribution center building into a modern career and technical training facility. The existing building was much larger than what was needed, but the goal was to incorporate a phased plan that could finish out only what was required for the near term, while leaving the unused space available for future expansion.

The owner was also very interested in utilizing sustainable building systems and for the completed project to be a showcase of technology. This meant the following criteria needed to be included in the design:

  • – Infrastructure such as electrical and mechanical systems needed to be scalable in size
  • – Systems needed to maximize energy efficiency for utility savings
  • – Systems were desired to include long service lifecycles
  • – Systems should be current technology, not antiquated designs of the past

The owner selected the design team before HPM was involved, so our preconstruction team was brought on board and asked to analyze the project when it was about 30% through the design process, or as we commonly refer to it, at the “Schematic Design” (SD) phase. At SD, the first thing we typically do is try to analyze the design narratives and documents to see if the best possible systems have been applied to the project. In the case of both the mechanical and electrical systems on this project, major red flags jumped out to us immediately!

The designers had proposed very high-end systems and had done an elaborate presentation to the school system promoting them as the only systems available that would meet their criteria, but they didn’t raise the fact that the first cost, as well as the long-term maintenance cost, was very high. This was partly because they used out-of-date historical budget information and incorrectly interpreted a local contractor’s historical pricing data to come up with a budget amount that was less than half of what this design was actually going to cost. Though it was technically a “scalable” system, for this to be true, additional equipment and over-sized piping mains had to be included in the initial phase to accommodate the expansion for later phases, driving up the first cost even further. Finally, they failed to mention that this system would need a full-time plant engineer on site to keep the systems running properly. 

The design decisions for the electrical systems raised similar application and cost concerns. As with many owners, futureproofing for long-term scenarios resulted in a costly bus duct system, some of which would not even be used on day one. We asked the owner to provide a day-one list of equipment. From that, our team was able to recommend three separate options of varying day-one cost savings for the owner and designer to consider. All three options still provided some level of futureproofing, but at a significant cost savings over the initial design.

HPM recommended alternative HVAC and electrical distribution systems that still achieved all the criteria above, but at lower initial costs, as well as reduced maintenance requirements. The suggested Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) HVAC system equals the efficiencies of the proposed hydronic system with a very similar lifecycle, but with minimum routine maintenance, which could be performed by the school system’s existing maintenance staff. And VRF is truly scalable with only the equipment needed for the current phase required to be installed initially. Any future expansions can be added modularly, so there is no impact on the initial project’s cost. HPM also pointed out how the designers could easily and quickly convert their initial hydronic design to the VRF design to maximize previous design efforts and minimize impact on the bid schedule.

Our team completed detailed system information and priced the design with current market pricing from trade partners, vendors and pricing services, showing the project was in real jeopardy of being several million dollars over budget. The suggested alternative systems were discussed with the owner at length, and the cost savings to implement them was shown to be in excess of $2M. These savings showed that these changes could potentially put the project back in line with the owner’s original budget for the initial phase.

In the end, the owner directed the designers to implement our suggested changes. However, because they waited until documents were almost completed for bid, the redesign ended up adding a few weeks delay to the bid schedule that could have been avoided if the decision had been made sooner. When the project did bid, the mechanical and electrical bids came in exactly where HPM budgeted, saving every dollar that we said we would. A project that was in danger of cancellation because of a serious budget shortfall was saved and moved forward.

Emerging Leaders: A Q&A with a Preconstruction Co-Op Student

As a professional services firm, we teach our co-op students more than construction. The Emerging Leaders program exposes students to business acumen, accounting, marketing, and business development in addition to all aspects of construction management. Co-op student Rachel Bengert spent her fall semester working in our Preconstruction Services department. A senior civil engineering student at the University of Alabama, Rachel is already a leader—in addition to her busy academic schedule, she serves as the president of the American Society of Civil Engineers, vice president of the Chi Epsilon Civil Engineering Honors Society and secretary of the Women in Construction Club. Continue reading to learn about her experience as an HPM co-op.


HPM: Why were you interested in the Emerging Leaders program?

Rachel Bengert: I became interested in HPM’s Co-Op program after working in preconstruction with their sister company, Hoar Construction. When the opportunity for me to switch over to HPM came up, I was immediately interested and excited to see what the construction process would look like given the new perspective of program management. Specifically, I wanted to see how this new experience would differ from the previous.

HPM: What do you do as an HPM co-op? What does a typical day look like?

RB: My days normally alternate between preconstruction and project management. On a typical day in preconstruction I will help prepare estimates for the client by examining construction documents and performing takeoff. Other days I will help with the BJCC Legacy Arena renovation by reviewing invoices, updating change order logs, uploading drawings to Procore, visiting the job site, attending client meetings, and drafting the weekly construction update report.

HPM: What has been your favorite experience so far at HPM?

RB: My favorite experience so far at HPM has been going on site and assisting with the BJCC Legacy Arena renovation project. Before working at HPM, I had never been to a job site. Having the opportunity to go out and see the construction progress in the field has helped me solidify and build on the knowledge I’ve learned on paper.

Rachel with Blake Jefferson, Assistant Project Manager at a job site.

HPM: What have you learned as a co-op that you might not have learned without this experience?

RB: Without the experience of being a co-op I would have never gained the insight into the construction industry that I have now. What you learn from class can only get you so far and throughout my co-op I have been able to see first-hand how architects, engineers, owners, and everyone in between work together to build the world around us.

HPM: What would you say makes the HPM co-op program different than other programs?

RB: HPM’s co-op program has been exceptional and offers an experience that is different from other programs. With HPM I am truly a part of the team. My mentors have high expectations of me which allows me to perform tasks that have a direct and meaningful impact on our projects. The high level of work that I am able to contribute is one of the many reasons I think makes HPM’s co-op program different.

HPM: Why do you think it is important for students to apply for co-op positions and internships?

RB: I think it’s essential for students to apply for a co-op or intern position before they graduate in order to further the material learned in class. My co-op experience has been invaluable to me as I continue to take classes and decide what role I’d like to take on after graduation. Working as a co-op allows you to see what you may like or dislike about different jobs in the industry and helps you to identify other areas you’d like to explore. Being a co-op also provides students with opportunities to make connections and receive career and life advice from mentors and professionals in the field.

Preconstruction Services: A Best-Practice Strategy to Save Time and Money

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted construction projects around the world, causing many to be significantly delayed and over budget. Developers are searching for strategies to address the dilemma, with many turning to third-party program management companies like HPM that offer the industry expertise required to create efficient timelines and budgets. We serve as the owner’s advocate in all aspects of the project, applying a holistic approach that includes determining a feasible schedule and implementing effective cost controls.

Many owners have determined that the program management model is the most efficient way to manage a capital building campaign because they are given a detailed assessment of budgetary items and any potential variables from general contractors and the other project partners from the beginning. While others focus solely on the project, we focus on what is most important to our clients at every step of the way. We can quickly evaluate and accommodate the owner’s needs. Plus, we break down the language barriers that exist between the owner’s industry and the construction industry by facilitating constructive communication and developing a plan that sets clear goals and benchmarks toward a final objective before a hammer hits the first nail. 


Many general contractors see preconstruction specialists as only estimators, but the current construction environment requires a long list of services to address the owner’s concerns. These include design team structure, selection, and management, bid packaging strategy, systems analysis, cost analysis, estimating, constructability reviews, value engineering and master scheduling. It’s more important now than perhaps ever before for program managers to have access to specialists with the expertise to find cost savings. We recently expanded our preconstruction services division by hiring experts in areas such as HVAC, plumbing and fire protection, as well as electrical, communications and security, increasing efficiency by offering this invaluable resource in house. HPM’s preconstruction team has saved our clients millions over the years and, in most cases, the cost of our services is at least a 100% return on investment.


HPM has access to innovative pricing technologies that allow us to create more accurate and efficient budgets. We incorporate data that might not be top-of-mind for general contractors or architects. For example, we use databases that provide historical pricing data on labor rates and materials for projects across the country. This provides us with insight into various pressure points that can affect individual markets. This technology allows us to create realistic budgets throughout the design phase that are less likely to face cost overruns.

Predicting the Future on a Project Before a Shovel Hits the Ground

Wouldn’t it be nice if a crystal ball could show you the success or shortcomings of your construction budget and schedule before you begin? You could foresee whether it would be completed on time and within budget. While we do not have a crystal ball, we do offer the next best thing– HPM Preconstruction Services.

HPM Preconstruction Services gives the owner a clear picture of the project scope that can be supported by the budget and what it will take to achieve success. HPM will identify potential issues while analyzing and preparing for what lies ahead. If your budget is not consistent with the scope of the project, HPM will offer design changes and value engineering ideas, and develop an alternate strategy to enhance the success of meeting the project budget. HPM’s Preconstruction Services goes to great lengths to preplan a construction project including site selection analyses, cost analyses, scheduling, and design team structure and selection. 

Additional Preconstruction Services Include: 

  • Conceptual Budgeting 
  • Preconstruction Schedule Development 
  • Budgeting at Design Stages  
  • Design Management 
  • Cost Modeling  
  • Construction Schedule Review and Analysis 
  • Constructability Reviews, Value Engineering 
  • Lifecycle Analysis  
  • Systems Analysis (Mechanical, Electrical, Roofing, etc.) 
  • Facilities Conditions Assessments 
  • Project Phasing 
  • Prequalification Management  
  • Bid Packaging Strategy 
  • Change Order Review 


Do You Need Preconstruction Services?

Utilizing expert preconstruction services is a major cost-saving strategy that will set a solid foundation for your project, but owners are not always aware of the advantages until the project is already underway. With HPM Preconstruction Services in their corner, owners are provided with: 

  1. An accurate, feasible budget 
  2. Cost savings opportunities 
  3. A clear and concise schedule  

Our Preconstruction team has saved our clients millions over the years. In most cases, the cost of HPM’s Preconstruction Services is at least a 100% return on investment. 

Making Old Schools New Again for a Growing Student Population

Like many public school districts across the U.S., Homewood City Schools was faced with aging buildings and a growing student population. Administrators and school board members benefitted from a $55-million bond issue obtained through the City of Homewood and added to the monies the school district had in its reserves. However, like most, the needs outweighed the resources, and competing priorities of those needs required a hard look at the data.

“Starting with studies, surveys and assessments and working from the best available data, we identified a bubble moving through the school population and planned accordingly,” Project Manager Jeremiah Owen said. “No stone was left unturned when looking at options to address the needs and desires within the defined budget. We looked at many different options, and ultimately decided that upgrading existing facilities was in the district’s best interest.” 

Three aging elementary schools received classroom additions, renovations and upgrades, leaving room for growth as necessary. The middle school, which is just beginning to feel the effects of the bubble, is a newer building that benefitted from space planning and interior renovations to add classrooms.  

“The Homewood Board of Education, along with the Homewood City Council, began to envision a new and fresh update to our current educational space—a concept that would make best use of our original spaces while providing expansion and growth potential for the next 50 years,” said Dr. Bill Cleveland, Retired Superintendent of Homewood City Schools. “We hired HPM to work with us—to turn hopes into reality, to optimize an assortment of ideas into an amalgamated strategy. The HPM design team provided leadership and guidance that quickly lined up to our budget and often surpassed our scope of thinking.” 

Dr. Bill Cleveland, Retired Superintendent of Homewood City Schools

The 70s-era high school needed the most help, and received more than a dozen new classrooms, updated athletics and performing arts wings and interior renovations to modernize the overall facility. Improvements to building automation and access control increased security and allows for troubleshooting to be performed from any device, which saves maintenance time and money. 

Data-Driven Planning to Create a Community’s Dream School  

Built in 1972, Homewood High School expected to hit two milestones at the same time: its 50th birthday, and its full capacity of 1,200. News of the bond issue, a hastily assembled land use study and the hopes and dreams of many community members spun into grand plans for a new high school. When HPM first met with Dr. Cleveland, we outlined our extensive process that starts long before plans, grand or otherwise, are made. Our preconstruction team started with a demographic study to assess the community’s needs and a facilities assessment of each school to see what we would be working with. 

Working with comprehensive information, HPM’s team determined that construction of a new high school exceeded the system’s needs and far outstripped its budget. Instead, we were able to draw up a plan for renovations, expansions and updates to all five schools in the district to anticipate population growth, provide newer and more functional facilities and address the top priorities laid out in community meetings and surveys—while staying within the available budget. 

“We were able to address the needs of the district by putting together a renovation and addition plan for a fraction of the cost of a new build,” Owen said. “This also meant that the high school remained centrally located in the heart of the community.” 

Jeremiah Owen, HPM Project Manager

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