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Just how valuable is Value Engineering? - Paul Kersey, Knauf Specification Director, South.

Done right, a value engineering exercise will reduce cost while retaining design integrity and performance.  Done carelessly, with a focus on the wrong things, the process can easily cost money rather than saving it.


Personally, I have never seen a specification where it was impossible to reduce cost, but without the right technical advice a cost-saving that looks initially attractive may introduce complexity, time and liability – all of which have costs of their own.


This is my own five-point guide to valuable value engineering:


  1. Take a systems approach: many products form part of a system, where the performance – and quite possibly the warranty – of one is reliant upon another.


    Use the system and you benefit from the detailing and performance warranties provided by the manufacturer.  Break it down and you may find performance issues at the interfaces, particularly where individual components, designed to be used together, have been substituted. 


    The performance liability is no longer the responsibility of the manufacturer and in some instances the final design may need independent inspection and sign-off from a consultant.  More cost, more time.


  2. Minimise complexity: try to avoid giving the subcontractors logistical problems.A good example of this is where a single type of board has been specified throughout a building.True, the advanced performance is not needed everywhere and the decision is made to specify to the minimum performance required in any location.


    The result is twelve individual product types delivered to site and it’s up to the contractor to ensure the right one, matched with the appropriate fixings, is installed in each location. The time spent keeping control of this jigsaw could easily outweigh the reduction in product price.  Contractors absolutely know this, by the way, and will factor the “muddle time” into their quote.


  3. It’s never Apples for Apples: Board A is 15% cheaper than Board B.Great. Until you notice that Board A needs a 92mm I stud that’s 3 or 4 times the cost of Board B that only needs a 70mm C stud.Not such a good option after all. Remember to take a holistic overview.


  4. Using recycled specifications can be costly: Standardised Specifications work well for repetitive projects, but make a point to review them regularly. If you don’t it can mean you’re missing out on new solutions or short-cuts as we continually develop our offering. I’ve even seen specifications with products that have been discontinued for some time… so what has been installed in their project?


  5. Consult the experts: Product manufactures really do understand how to deliver the best value.We want to work with you repeatedly, not just once, so it really is in our interests to understand what you are trying to achieve and suggest the most cost-effective way to do it.This may involve surprising solutions that you could not have known about.


The NBS What Specifiers Want survey of 2017 revealed that over half (57%) of specifiers experiencing difficulties with specifications put the blame on specified materials being substituted.  Value engineering can reduce cost. But only if it’s done right.

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