Options appraisals for construction projects
Options appraisals are undertaken following the completion of feasibility studies. Their purpose is to assess a number of potential options before developing a concept design for the preferred option.
After assessing the feasibility studies, the client will decide which options the consultant team should develop. Ideally there will be no more than four options at this stage. If more options exist it may be necessary to carry out further high-level studies before proceeding to more detailed options appraisals.
These studies allow further assessments and discussions:
- An assessment of the risks of the options.
- Consultations with the local authority and other statutory authorities, to assesses possible planning permission requirements and other statutory requirements (such as the need for an environmental impact assessment for the options).
- Initial cost appraisals of the options.
Preparing appraisals may require further site surveys or site information. It may also be necessary to commission additional advice, such as planning advice, expertise on rights of light, engineering advice, or other specialist services depending on the complexity of the project. The need to commission other consultants will often be determined by the scale and location of a development and also by the client’s familiarity with the site and the local area. A large-scale development with underground constraints will almost certainly require engineering expertise in the early stages, whereas a residence in a traditional street may not. Both however may require an understanding of local authority or other statutory consultee positions.
The lead consultant can then co-ordinate the preparation of an options review report, from which the client can either select a preferred option or instruct the development of further options or appraisals.
The options review report might contain:
- A general description of the options.
- Diagrammatic sketch layouts.
- The overall consequences of each option for the client's operations.
- Assessment of compatibility with the clients vision, mission and objectives.
- Assessment of the overall feasibility of each option.
- Potential for future-proofing.
- Planning permission issues (including the potential requirement for an environmental impact assessment).
- Sustainability considerations.
- Impact on the local community and environment.
- Third-party dependencies.
- Value management exercises.
- Whole-life costs with a rudimentary assessment of costs/sqm, configuration and servicing.
- Time-frames, phasing and key milestones.
- Procurement route.
At this stage the client’s brief is likely to expand, partly from the conclusions of the appraisals but also from knowledge gained by research into planning precedents, legal issues, engineering data and the technical constraints and nature of the project.
Wherever possible, any information prepared or obtained should be in a format which can be readily shared and used, and should be stored and named in a way consistent with the long-term project and operational needs.
Once a preferred option has been selected, the consultant team may carry out further assessments to assist the client in preparing a business case and project execution plan for the preferred option before concept design begins.
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