Construction of Public Works Buildings

By Ken Thomson

In constructing public works projects, the general contractor has to be prepared to deal with an additional layer of complexity beyond what he encounters in building for the private sector. Public works are owned and financed by government entities, which means that the construction enterprise is encumbered with regulations, impact studies and extra oversight. Contractors have to be skilled at handling all these aspects in addition to the specific design and building details involved.

Construction of public works buildings is most successfully accomplished through a centralized project or construction management approach. This increases the likelihood that the contractor will deliver these large infrastructure projects on time and within budget. The undertaking is challenging if only because of the broad category of projects the term public works encompasses.

The basic purpose of public works is to benefit the community at large; the benefit may be in terms of recreation, employment, safety or health. Efforts may go towards the construction of public buildings, schools, courthouses, hospitals, parks and towards the building of transport infrastructures, such as bridges, roads and pipelines.


Another challenge contractors in public works have to face is how to accommodate the multidimensional nature of conceptual design and implementation. What this means is that many factors must be taken into consideration beyond those encountered in private commercial construction. Public projects undergo review from recreational, legal, economical and aesthetic perspectives as well as analyses of their potential impact on neighborhoods and the environment.

There is modern concern with ecological and climatic issues, the desire for buildings to be green and sustainable and the goal of enhancing quality of life for the population as a whole. The noble aspects of public works and the logistics of bringing construction projects to completion often create a tension that is difficult to manage. Common dangers are cost overruns and demand shortfall, usually brought about by optimism bias and strategic misrepresentation influenced by politics.

To successfully meet all these challenges, the general contractor has to be skilled at executing large-scale project management techniques. He needs expertise at anticipating and managing risk to keep costs under control. He must possess excellent communication skills to deal with the array of regulations and bureaucracies inherent in public works. He must be adept at analyzing constructability, accurate in estimating schedules and budgets and eminently transparent.

In a sense, once expertise in the above areas is established, management of the construction aspects of public works projects almost falls into place. It helps if the contractor embraces the public causes and trends this area of construction entails, including husbandry of the environment and building green.

Facility Builders & Erectors (FB&E) has broad experience building for public works. We have forged relationships with municipalities to provide transportation facilities such as alternative energy refueling/recharging stations. We have also constructed community centers and have led the way in the green building movement, helping customers to obtain LEED certification. We go out of our way to provide sustainable and eco-friendly solutions.

apple valley airport.jpgBecause our foremost expertise is in construction management, we are the ideal choice as contractor of public works buildings. We apply these skills in conducting extensive site visits and in striving to answer all design and constructability issues prior to the commencement of construction. We emphasize transparent in-depth communication with project owners and also with the architectural team. This focus on construction management practices in public works projects has enabled us to deliver the most economical solutions that satisfy all specifications.

FB&E's approach maximizes flexibility to find and provide the best outcome. Proof is in the long-standing friendships we enjoy with many customers after our contractual relationships have ended. Our adaptability means that we are well suited to be the contractor of choice for the wide variety of public projects. Make FB&E your construction management company of choice.