Prior to the recession the term “Preconstruction” trended more towards “Predevelopment”. Predevelopment focused on the financing, entitlements, city approvals and some design work. You rarely heard the titles “Pre-Development Manager” or “Director of Predevelopment”. Predevelopment was just part of development departments’ daily duties. The mind set was that Predevelopment and Preconstruction where basically the same thing.
These days I see a lot of candidates throw their hat into the ring when positions like “Pre-Construction Director” open up. They think the duties are more like the Pre-Development activities and owner’s rep-style work they’re used to.
However, when you look at the job description you will note that today’s “Precon” positions are actually heavily focused in construction estimating. The General Contracting population created Precon as a billable service for developers that were not quite ready to pull the trigger on a project but still needed to get their hands around what the possible costs or construction hurdles would be for a project. This task was typically handled by personable estimators or project managers with estimating backgrounds.
These days Preconstruction is its own department within most sophisticated general contracting shops and even the owners/developers have learned the importance of having a Precon individual or department on their team as well helping their acquisition, development and in-house construction teams.
Estimating has come a long way from being a critical back-office position within the general contractors office to a billable service and an essential presence within many real estate development organizations.
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