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How does Value Engineering in Construction sit against todays backdrop?

4 February 2021

Whilst taking the time to consider the question above, it is important to remember where and when the original concept of Value Engineering was created.

Where it all began:

Value engineering was conceived at General Electric Co. during World War 2.

Because of the war, there were shortages of skilled labour, raw materials and component parts.

A team headed by Lawrence Miles at G.E. looked for acceptable substitutes - they noticed that these substitutions often reduced costs, improved the product or both.

What was born out of an accident of necessity became a systematic process. They called their technique "value analysis".


In more detail you can say that:

Value Engineering (VE) is a systematic approach to improving the "value" of goods or products and services by using an examination of function. Value, as defined, is the ratio of function to cost. Value can therefore be manipulated by either improving the function or reducing the cost.

The statement above is accurate but problems arise when the following extremely important, and essential, guidance below is neglected:

“It is a primary tenet of value engineering that basic functions be preserved and not be reduced as a consequence of pursuing value improvements”

It must also be said, in light of recent media coverage, and especially as a result of the Grenfell Disaster Enquiries, Overall Regulatory Compliance and Safety, that the ‘basic functions’ are never compromised upon!

Value Engineering in Construction:

Value engineering (VE) in construction should provide more value to a client by either improving the function of a building or by reducing its cost. The term ‘VE’ can, however, often bring a sense of frustration and uncertainty which can create a rift between the participants in the project.

It is important that we do our upmost to take a more positive and proactive approach to Value Engineering as without it a significant number of construction projects could end up having to be shelved due to cost/budget concerns.

The earlier the better:

A lot of the negativity around value engineering could be removed if the VE process was actually intertwined into the original design process.

If VE is only considered as a last resort, then this can cause a significant level of disruption to the ‘traditional’ design and construction process. At which point frustration, and even resentment, can occur across the various stakeholders due to the fact that a significant amount of work may need to be redone.