Can We Correct How People See Value Engineering?

by Ted Leamy

Did you read the Viewpoint editorial in the April edition of SCN on Value Engineering? Yes, that less than favorite topic of designers and integrators alike. In fact it has caused me to coin the cynical Ted-ism which states: “Value Engineering — little to do with value and absolutely nothing to do with engineering!” (Feel free to use that ted-ism at your next project meeting.) I use this joke — keeping a straight face — when a customer suggests that value engineering may actually solve all budget problems.

I was unable to fit all of my thoughts into the April edition because of page space — and Kirsten kept editing out the cuss words! One obvious thought provoking issue: why does the general contractor or owner (or associated bean counters) seem to think value engineering is there to cut out the fluff in a design? Fluff? C’mawn! No designer or integrator intentionally creates an overly bloated design. We all have better things to do with billable hours!

Having said that, "scope creep" does happen. The lure of new technology or a misinterpretation of the project's true needs can cause the design to expand beyond the original scope. I am sure it happens. I just don’t think this is a regular occurrence and the concept of fluff is way overstated by them folks in charge of the budget.

Can we correct the way people think of value engineering?

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