19 Nov, 2020 | Written by Premis

Early Contractor Involvement with Tim Awyzio

Most of us have heard the acronym ‘ECI’ bandied around, but how many of our clients really understand what it is, how it benefits them and where and when to use this method of contracting.

With 38 years’ experience in the industry who better than our Managing Director, Tim Awyzio, to give us a better understanding of this process.


What is ECI?

ECI, Early Contractor Involvement, is a model of engagement whereby the contractor is brought on at a very early stage of a project, to work collaboratively with the design team – the builder takes an active role providing advice on budget, program, buildability, and value management which assists in refining the design and scope of the project . This method allows for a highly collaborative process resulting in a high-quality outcome for the client.

The main goal is to save time and money and to achieve the best possible outcome for the client.


In your experience what are the benefits to the client?

The benefits of Early Contractor Involvement can be considerable across most project types, however where real value can be achieved is on complex projects where the client has program pressures and where there may be unidentified risks.

Major benefits we have experienced include:

  • Additional efficiencies during the design development process
  • Design coordination and buildability issues resolved before the start of construction
  • More collaborative and less adversarial process which often results in higher level of innovation
  • More efficient tendering process
  • Program of works is far more accurate
  • Reduced time during construction phase
  • Substantially reduced variation costs


What has been your experience with Early Contractor Involvement?

Starting my career as an apprentice carpenter in 1982 and now some 38 years later as Managing Director of Premis, one thing is constant; when highly experienced, likeminded people, work collaboratively toward a common goal, great outcomes are achieved – ECI allows for this level of collaboration.

As detailed previously, ECI is a project delivery model that involves the contractor being brought on in the very early stages of a project to work collaboratively with the Design Consultancy Team. It is quite humbling to be invited to take on this role for a client – it shows an appreciation of the expertise you and your team bring to the table, and a level of trust that you will truly add value to the project.

A couple of live examples:  

Private Hospital Mental Health Ward

Our client faced a number of challenges and unknowns including:

  • Budget uncertainty
  • Program
  • Existing site conditions and compliance issues
  • Demolition of the space prior to design was not an option

Due to these challenges Premis was contracted under an ECI arrangement. The team provided a detailed budget and building advice to enable completion of the concept design to form part of the business case.

A preliminary program was developed providing the client with a timeline required to complete the works. This information and advice provided our client with the confidence to move forward with the project.

Continuing to work collaboratively with the Design Consultancy Team throughout the design development phase, resulted in a time saving of 10 weeks. What would have normally taken 22 weeks was completed in 12.

All buildability issues were worked through with the majority being resolved during the design process, greatly minimising potential delays and variation costs. The ECI process enabled the consultancy team to review costs throughout the design process, keeping the project on budget.

Having provided confidence to the client, Premis was then invited to tender to complete the project as the Managing Contractor. Due to our complex understanding of the project we were able to provide a final lump sum fee that was under budget.

We firmly believe early contractor involvement on this project resulted in a cost saving of approximately 15% and reduced the program by 10 weeks.

Corporate Client

ECI was the chosen method for this project as the client had a fixed exit date from their tenancy and a very tight budget for a premium fit-out.

Marc & Co invited Premis to provide budgeting, programming and buildability advice from the outset of the project. Our early involvement enabled the architectural team to design to a clear budget with buildability advice given, ensuring the most cost-effective methods were considered to deliver on the client’s brief.

The ECI process saved valuable time and money for the client and the project was eventually delivered under a construction management contract.

Personally, my reward at the completion of a project is witnessing the delight of a happy client and being recommended to others. It demonstrates we have made the process as stress free as possible, and let’s face it that has to be an outcome that everyone desires.

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