To get better control of quality and costs in its construction projects, AF Bostäder has ended with traditional procurement. Instead, projects are designed, calculated and implemented with all the stakeholders.
AF Bostäder has a target to build housing for 1 250 students by 2021. This is happening at a rapid pace and in 2017 AF Bostäder started construction of three new quarters, Marathon, Proto and Sagoeken. Together, these areas will offer housing for almost 900 students. Controlling quality and cost calculations in the development of properties and housing areas is a considerable challenge.
“A construction project is complex,” says Magnus Cederberg, Property Development Manager of AF Bostäder. “To state the correct price, the contractor needs to know not only what parquet flooring costs per square metre, but also the cost of laying the flooring in an environment that is difficult to predict in terms of stress, disruptions and unexpected events. Thus, there are no exact price lists, as no-one can offer that and no customer can request it either.”
The traditional working method in building contracting is that the customer makes drawings and calculations for a long period in order to draw up documents that are then used to request tenders. When the procurement is complete, the customer has got a fixed price, but actually it is not fixed, but rather a calculation of exactly what is stated in the documents. Using such a working method involves a considerable risk of expensive changes and additional work.”
“A commercial property company can possibly make up for higher construction costs with higher rents,” says Magnus Cederberg. “Our mission is to provide student housing with low rents, which makes it particularly important to have control of both quality and costs from the start. It’s directly linked to our customers’ benefits.”
“That’s why we have moved away from traditional procurement and instead we make agreements with our contractors and other parties, such as architects, construction planners, electricians and heating, water and sanitation contractors, early in the project,” says Magnus Cederberg. “Using our ideas and visions as a basis, we then jointly design the building we are to construct. We take one small step at a time and sketch out a project specification that is never static. All parties have a deep understanding of the product we want and collaboration minimises surprises that can arise during the project.”
Using a collaboration model, everyone has an opportunity to contribute ideas and experiences, and adapt the project to their products, methods and way of working. The final project description is to serve both AF Bostäder’s purpose and the efficient routines of the construction workers – not least because AF Bostäder works with different contractors on different construction projects. Procedures, experiences and methods may differ.
“For instance, a large and aesthetically attractive type of window may entail work environment problems, if it turns out that the window is too heavy for the construction workers to handle,” states Magnus Cederberg. “Now we highlight such issues together at an early stage and the architect has the chance to find good solutions that are simple to handle during construction.”
“Our experiences of the collaboration model have been very positive. Everyone works towards the same goal, with the same budget and for the same end customer. When everyone in the group is involved from the start, everyone also takes responsibility to ensure the finished product meets our common expectations. Collaboration continues throughout the building period with regular construction meetings and status updates during the project,” concludes Magnus Cederberg.