Hybrid Parking Garages Blog Posts

Parking Design Cartoons and the Cost of Parking

Posted by William Wieners on Mon, Jun 4, 2012 @ 21:06 PM

 Affordable Efficient Hybrid Parking Garages

Hybrid Parking Garages

What is the cost of your parking design when you are pricing from a cartoon?

In today's unstable market owners are seeking to take advantage of apparent bargains in the construction industry.  However the risk to all parties by buying "low bid" fragmented services from disparate firms continues to escalate as the industry contracts and financial instability grows.

Getting a low price for services or thinking that going design/bid/build is going to save money or is of greater value today than five years ago is probably not the best approach to create the best value for a project.

What has happened to the VALUE that traditionally resulted from CRITICAL THINKING?

What we see happening today in parking design translates into... You have a project... and you bid for a designer... they create a cartoon from which hungry construction firms invent prices for little or no fee.  Now you have an owner and designer who have unknown liabilities presenting a scheme which may not ULTIMATELY work for the proforma and/or patrons.  

You are now OFFICIALLY LOST IN THE LAND OF THE PARKING DESIGN CARTOON AND CRAYON SPREAD SHEET!... Add in "GROUP THINK" and "EGO" and it is a very bad day at the bank!

Group think in Parking Design

As the magnitude of costs start to sink in.. what do you do now that you realize that your proforma will not work because the cost of your parking is beyond your budget or worse beyond your ability to finance?  

You didn't know what you were getting into because there was no way to reasonably value the concept from the beginning.

Overcome Groupthink

For Example... we recently had the opportunity to help someone who was faced with the disconnect of a "PARKING DESIGN CARTOON" that went as follows:  

1) They had hired a design firm.

2) The design firm provided a concept based on what they had done in a "TIER ONE" market.

3) The team embraced the concept given to them "for fee" by a reputable firm but for a "TIER TWO" market.

4) The team then priced the concept and came to find that the parking was considerably more than what the proforma would bear.

5) In addition to the price being beyond the budget the concept was not user friendly for patrons with ramping and distances having to be traveled beyond practicality.

6) There also appeared to be 30% more parking spaces planned than were needed.

7) The overall site utilization was inefficient and huge opportunities for land banking were lost because of the way the concept integrated the parking into the entire development.

The challenge that was presented to us to solve was....

"HOW CAN YOU HELP ME GET THIS TO WORK?"  They had already tried to make the "CARTOON MORE EFFICIENT" but the total savings from all this effort resulted in only a few percentage points of cost savings and not nearly enough to solve the problem.  If they can't solve the parking... it will "KILL THE DEAL".


"What?"  "Why?" we have a good team in place and this should work... our response was that it would work but it isn't affordable, efficient or user friendly... and then within the next HOUR TOGETHER... we helped show them what to consider to significantly lower the cost of their parking.  In addition to our parking design recommendations the changes we recommended would also result in considerable savings in OPERATIONS, MAINTENANCE and in the reconfiguration of the cash generating piece of the development.

We showed them that to get to the numbers they wanted they would have to scrap the "PARKING DESIGN CARTOON" not the team.  Implement changes and the result would be an overall savings in the whole program.  It should be ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE less costly, more efficient, more user friendly and most importantly meet your proforma.

This is a difficult situation for all involved, even us, to sit there and tell an experienced group that their "TEAM" has missed the mark.  The firms and people involved just didn't know... "OFF HAND" that the CARTOON wouldn't work... They didn't consider all aspects of what they were programming and were predisposed to "WHAT THEY HAD DONE BEFORE".

Don't forget critical thinking for parking design

Before you start with your next project and "PARKING DESIGN" ask yourself about the "COST OF FRAGMENTATION" and whether or not you want the fragmented approach or a more seamless approach to reach your overall goal of best value.

You have to ask yourself... How can I benefit from the right people at the table from the beginning... to get everything I need to take that first step in parking design and control my costs of construction and development.  


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There is much that traditionally goes into to the selection process of owner's when choosing the team for their next project.  When you are considering how to deliver and who to hire, please don't forget to add in the intangibles when planning your approach to your parking program and don't forget to consider the VALUE of CRITICAL THINKING.


"Service is the only thing that people buy that they never know the value of until after they have bought it"

 Famous Quotes:

"Price is what you pay. Value is what you get" - Warren Buffet (1930- )

"In God we trust. all others bring data" - Dr. W. Edwards Deming (1901-1993)

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