3 Decisions that Keep Construction Owners Up at Night 


As an owner, you face tough decisions every day. What capital projects should you invest in? How do you balance immediate needs against long-term objectives? Which projects should be prioritized when every update, repair, or expansion seems critical? 

And with the state of the economy—i.e., fraught with rising costs, material challenges, and labor struggles—the pressure to answer these questions correctly becomes even greater.  

Research from Gordian found that in 2023, the construction industry saw a 5.3% increase in equipment costs, and labor wages rose 3.4%. Not only that, but according to the report, "82.5% of construction materials in the RSMeans database experienced a significant cost increase, with an average increase of 19%. These soaring costs were driven by inflation, supply chain constraints and operating constraints." 

Needless to say, the weight of several essential decisions rests on your shoulders. The question is, which decisions matter the most?  

Today, we highlight some of the top decisions that keep owners up at night—and how to solve them. 

Decision 1: How to improve asset and portfolio performance 

Whether you're managing one or 50 facilities, actively monitoring and improving performance is critical to long-term profitability. With design and construction accounting for just 10-20% of a building's total lifecycle cost, the key to unlocking higher profits lies in optimizing the performance of your capital assets.  

In other words, you must focus on running your facilities more efficiently to lower operational costs and reduce downtime. Part of doing that also means staying on top of maintenance and repairs, and being aware of the environmental factors that can drive up an asset's costs over time.  

Let's look at the ways you can improve asset and portfolio performance.  

Utilize cost and estimation data 

Tap into historical and actual data to forecast and plan for expansion, repairs, and rehab. That way, you can ensure your decisions are grounded in reality, providing a solid basis for planning and execution. 

This also means you don't have to rely on guesswork to make resource allocation, budget, and timeline decisions. Instead, you're utilizing real and accurate data, which puts you in a better position to predict the impact and returns of any program. 

To achieve the optimal results, consider using tools that make data gathering, estimating, and forecasting easier. These include: 

  • ProEst, which provides comprehensive estimating solutions that can give you insights into the true cost to aid you in your capital planning and vendor selection. 
  • Cost Management in Autodesk Build, which offers forecasting, real-time cost tracking, and budget management to keep your project on the right (financial) track. 

With a better understanding of your facility’s lifecycle starting in the earliest planning and design phases, construction owners can proactively plan for long-term expenses like repairs and expansions. Understanding the total cost of ownership ensures you can make well-informed decisions that improve portfolio performance.  

Invest in quality management solutions and processes 

Effective performance management is rooted in solid processes and platforms. Ensure that your procedures are standardized, especially during the construction phase, to cut costs and improve your bottom line.  

Leveraging a structured quality management program helps remove risks from construction processes that may rear their head during operations. For instance, tools like Autodesk Build can help teams deploy checklists for verifying quality standards against requirements, then implement a clear submittal review process during construction. 

And when your facilities are up and running, see to it that your quality management program continues to be a priority. This means: 

  • Conducting regular maintenance and inspections 
  • Tracking and trending asset performance data 
  • Implementing predictive maintenance strategies 
  • Continuously improving your quality management program based on data and feedback 
  • Utilizing data captured during construction through operations 

These steps help ensure your assets or facilities perform at their best, ultimately extending their lifespan and maximizing your ROI. 

Leverage unified data and insights 

Teams often have to use multiple tools at the jobsite to collect data and complete day-to-day tasks. In many cases, they use manual methods to get things done.  

This is a less-than-ideal scenario, especially from a data perspective. Using multiple tools without integrations means information is scattered across various systems and highly susceptible to human error. Consequently, owners may face limitations in making informed decisions regarding asset lifecycle extension, renovations, or expansions due to inaccurate and disconnected data. 

The best way to fix these issues is to use a unified data and insights platform. As an owner, you must empower your teams to connect their data while eliminating manual processes so you can have a single source of truth when the project is handed over.  

Take, for example, Autodesk Construction Cloud, which connects your teams, data, and workflows into a single platform. Autodesk serves as a single source of truth so users can collaborate more efficiently. 

It also helps to use AI-powered tools that surface the right information for effective decision-making during construction. Construction IQ, for example, uses machine learning and AI to identify risks and priorities automatically.  

If you're looking for more ways to power better decisions with insights, we've compiled a helpful guide: 5 Benefits of Powering Decisions With Insight.

Get the guide

Decision 2: How to keep projects profitable 

On-time and on-budget delivery are some of the best measures of project success. Unfortunately, many construction owners find that achieving these outcomes is an uphill battle. Data from the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), reports that 84% of firms report construction costs have been higher than anticipated. 

So, what can you do to combat these issues and keep projects on track? 

Improve forecast accuracy and cost predictability 

Strive to accurately predict future construction costs from the design stage all the way to handover. Doing this can help you guide a project towards more successful outcomes and, in turn, secure profitability.  

See to it that you and your team are equipped with tools for tracking construction cost estimates, change orders, and real-time project inputs from supplier pay apps. 

Tools like Autodesk Build can seamlessly connect with scheduling, RFI, and cost management processes helping to provided more visibility into the overall budget impact. 

Reduce defects at handover 

Defects could eat up your profits, and unfortunately, they're also quite common. According to a 2022 International Construction Industry Council (CIIC) report, the global average percentage of defects at handover in construction projects is 10%. This can vary widely between $10,000 to $1,000,000 per building caused by poor quality control processes, poorly trained workers, low quality materials, unrealistic deadlines, conflicts between stakeholders, and changes in design during construction. 

You can address these problems by identifying defects at the construction phase and ensuring they're removed before handover. That way, you alleviate unplanned costs and expensive overheads in aftercare management. 

Implement a structured quality management system to standardize your processes and ensure defects are caught early and effectively. 

Improve collaboration and schedule control 

Better collaboration leads to better outcomes. When everyone is working together seamlessly, decisions are made faster and potential issues are resolved quickly. 

The easiest way to bolster team collaboration is to get everyone on the same page. Connect all your stakeholders using a centralized platform and data repository. Doing so helps everyone collaborate efficiently, so teams eliminate delays and unnecessary costs. 

As for which solutions to use? Consider the following. 

  • Leverage the structured review process against Revit Models in Autodesk BIM Collaborate Pro to improve visibility and accountability between design team stakeholders. 
  • Bridge in Autodesk Construction Cloud to allow stakeholders to access relevant project information and data. You own the project data even after the contractor is gone from the project. 

Decision 3: How to meet compliance and reduce environmental impact 

Today, there are an increasing amount of social and environmental standards that owners must consider—and for good reason. Standards and certifications by entities like ISO 19650, OSHA, LEED, and the Building Safety Act ensure that workers and the environment are considered and protected.  

There's also the fact that the construction industry is a significant contributor to pollution and waste. By reducing our impact, we can help create a safe and sustainable future for the industry and planet as a whole, in addition to building goodwill with your brand.  

Here are a few key strategies to help you manage regulatory and environmental concerns. 

Adopt a common data environment (CDE) 

A CDE lets you document and store all project data in a centralized platform, so it's easy to show proof of compliance to different industry, federal, state, and regional compliance standards. 

You can use a tool like Autodesk Docs to manage and share documents, as well as create the standards for contractors in your projects. 

Read more: Why Owners Need a Common Data Environment 

Check-in on contractor safety programs 

The construction sector has some of the highest fatality rates in the United States. In 2021, the industry saw a death rate of 9.4 per 100,000 workers.  

These sobering facts show that the construction industry still has work to do around safeguarding its workforce. Even a single death on the jobsite is way too many, and we must do everything possible to reduce safety incidents.  

Aside from protecting workers, improving construction safety also boosts morale and reduces costs.  

So, check in on your contractors' safety initiatives. Make sure they've developed easy-to-adopt, repeatable safety programs and get all team members to take ownership of site safety. 

It's also worth doubling down on communication, training, and inspections, as these efforts create a strong safety culture and reduce the risk of incidents. 

Get insights on your environmental impact 

If you aim to meet certain environmental standards, continuously monitor emissions, waste, and energy consumption throughout your projects and even your existing facilities.  

Doing this starts with proper planning and project management. You and your teams must have a deep understanding of what you'll build, where you'll build it, and the impact the project will have on the environment.  

The Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3) comes in handy here. EC3 is a free tool that helps users choose carbon-smart materials. Here's how it works: EC3 sources data from Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) to evaluate embodied carbon impacts. As the project owner, you can use EC3 to view the carbon impacts of different materials and make more sustainable decisions. 

Construction owners: Make better decisions for your facilities 

Business and project challenges are part of the territory as an construction owner. But hopefully by using some of the strategies above, you can better navigate some of your biggest decisions. After all, you already have enough on your mind as is; stop letting these things keep you up at night.  

Check out how Autodesk Construction Cloud can streamline your workflow and provide the insights to make better decisions and sleep soundly. 

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Grace Ellis

As Manager of Content Marketing Strategy at Autodesk and Editor in Chief of the Digital Builder Blog, Grace has nearly 15 years of experience creating world-class content for technology firms. She has been working within the construction technology space for the last 6+ years and is passionate about empowering industry professionals with cutting-edge tools and leading strategies that improve the quality of their jobs and lives.