What Goes Into a Feasibility Study for a Construction Project?

The construction project phase consists of a series of predetermined steps, beginning with the project’s initiation and finishing with the closure: completion and execution, as with any project management plan. Often, selecting a construction management company and conducting a feasibility report or analysis would be the first concrete steps of a construction project.

The planning phase involves this report, one of the crucial steps of the construction project management process. The planning process is considered to belong to the stage called preconstruction in some systems. This first stage’s importance should not be overstated; excellent planning can make a project; it will be broken by faulty or substandard planning.

What does a feasibility study look at?

Perched at the top of a construction project management process flow chart sits the feasibility study culminating in a feasibility report. The spark, the initial concept, is taken from this introductory study and compared with fact. Without having the details and green light that the report provides, moving forward could be a difficult step—kind of like buying a ticket to an exotic destination without checking the political situation, weather forecast or health alerts. You might have the vacation of a lifetime, or you might be headed for disaster.

One commonly used acronym for this project management step in construction as well as in other fields (especially IT), is TELOS: Technology, Economic viability, Legal considerations, Operational feasibility and Schedule.

  • Technology and systems: Resources, materials, human factor, skill with BIM (Building Information Modeling) or other construction project management software options and so on: is everything needed to bring the project to a successful completion readily available? And are the major players sufficiently experienced with using these resources and technology?
  • Economics: a.k.a cost/benefit analysis. For a commercial project, the economics step of the study asks: is it economically viable? What are the risks and strengths of the project? If it’s a residential project, can whoever is footing the bill pay promptly?
  • Legal parameters: planning requirements and restrictions, entitlement and so on.
  • Operational capacity: This step is about scope. Are all of the players involved—and in a big, complicated project, there could be a cast of hundreds or even thousands—capable of doing their jobs as defined? The starring roles as well as the supporting cast? Will the tech crew and the extras be there when you need them?
  • Schedule: Can this project be executed and delivered to the owner’s—and the team’s—satisfaction about timing?

In terms of construction planning, further feasibility concerns will be aesthetic, environmental and cultural. Green though a yurt may be, how would the neighbors feel about having one officiating on the lawn next door?

If this is a new construction project (rather than restoration), a land assessment may be carried out by an engineering firm that compares three elements:

  • The vision and needs of the client
  • Zoning/government ordinances
  • The results of the topographic survey or site assessment

This latter determines access, grade, soil, waste management options, availability of resources, easements, and restrictive covenants. Planning permissions, infrastructure changes (including improvements: lightning-fast internet, better water treatment, etc.) and the proposed yurt park or next-door peacock farm may be other reasons for consideration. If there are no major obstacles in sight, the architects can set to designing early plan drawings. These will be used to give a ballpark estimate of the project cost.

Following the project’s size, a detailed feasibility study will take time. If the project is viable, needs to be changed or is unlikely to succeed, it will let the team know. If the stars align, and the consensus is that the project is workable and wonderful, it will be time to move ahead to the next step in planning the construction project, preconstruction.

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