Construction Cost Estimation Case Study: The Westin Hotel at DIA

The Westin Hotel at DIAThe Westin Hotel at DIA

Burgess Services was hired to conduct a comprehensive cost estimation for the construction of the Westin Hotel at Denver International Airport. In addition to cost estimating, Burgess also implemented a strategic value engineering process that assisted in the design of the hotel.

The Challenges

The Westin Hotel was facing a budget crisis. There was not enough capital to cover the entire job, so Burgess was brought in to conduct a cost estimation of the mechanical systems to see where the Westin could save money.

Solving inefficiencies in a construction project is complicated. It requires collaborating with architects, city managers, project managers, and owners for approval, as well as engineers to reconfigure the systems. All these factors have to work together, and each plays a vital role in the overall cost evaluation. The tricky part in the Westin Hotel job was that the cost reductions could not hamper adherence to LEED requirements and Denver city codes.

Cost estimating requires meticulous examination of details. For example, one of the specific issues that was analyzed during the process was the bolts that were being used. Burgess discovered that the specified bolts were American-made bolts, bolts made in the continental U.S. However, Burgess found that America-made bolts, which are bolts made by a US company, but possibly manufactured in an overseas plant, were considerably cheaper. Burgess suggested substituting the America-made, for American-made bolts to save about $12,000. The owners and the city of Denver opted for the more expensive, but American-manufacturer-friendly bolts, so Burgess was forced to look other places for more cost cutting options.

The Solution

In addition to scrutinizing details like bolts, Burgess value engineered the equipment used in the construction process, as well as the mechanical structures of the building. To gain the kind of precise imaging they needed to do this, Burgess scrapped the traditional two-dimensional blueprints and instead used sophisticated building-image-modeling software to create three-dimensional drawings. These detailed images allowed them to audit every inch of the construction and find every possible opportunity for cost savings.

One such discovery the Burgess' engineers made was in the original plans for the duct work. They ascertained that the duct work could be value engineered to save money while delivering a better end-user experience. The first plans guaranteed that the duct work would conduct too much noise, which is undesirable in an upscale hotel promising quiet rooms for guests. To minimize the noise and manipulate the sound, Burgess worked with the owner of the project, the architect, and engineers to strategically place sound continuators in places that would effectively thin out the sound in air ducts. They also lined the interior and the exterior of the ducts to muffle the noise even more. The result has been a quite hotel room for the customer.

The Results

In the end, Burgess' solutions were a success as Burgess performed not one, but six separate cost estimations for the Westin Hotel at DIA. Burgess' involvement, enabled the construction project to produce less than an 11% increase in budget over 3.5 years. The construction management company was also able to save the city of Denver approximately $2.9 million overall with the value engineering Burgess supplied while still delivering on LEED and design requirements.

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