Turnkey projects for high quality and controlled costs

Ruusupuisto Building, owned by University Properties of Finland (SYK), was built as a turnkey project


Turnkey projects are becoming increasingly common in the construction industry. Turnkey means complete responsibility: through an agreement, the contractor is responsible for both the design and the implementation of the entire project. In other words, the product will be ready for immediate use: all the client has to do is turn the key. 


When implemented efficiently, turnkey projects bring considerable benefits to the client. Contractors often have an excellent understanding of the price levels in the market and the most efficient implementation methods. Costs can be reduced without compromising quality when the contractor participates in the planning and design of the project from the very beginning. In addition, turnkey projects allow for more effective overall project management, without problems caused by using different interfaces. Partial optimisation does not always ensure the most cost-effective total solution. 


Extensive and complicated technical building systems

It is easier for the client to operate when the contractor is responsible for the whole. In fragmented building services contracts, the whole often becomes blurred, making it complicated and difficult to resolve issues. Even if its various parts function appropriately, the project may not run smoothly as a whole. Technical building systems are extensive and complicated, with each part affecting the others.


Of course, turnkey projects are not the solution to all problems in the construction industry. They are not a natural fit for projects that involve a large number of uncertainty factors and where the lack of a detailed plan makes it difficult to determine the system costs. Such projects include challenging renovation projects in which the cost may become uncontrollable or the contractor must include certain conditions in the agreement, meaning that the total project costs cannot be determined sufficiently accurately.


The agreement should be as clear as possible, so that both parties fully understand the scope, quality requirements and costs of the project. When preparing a design contract, it is important to ensure that the designer has sufficient professional skills and resources for the project. In turnkey projects, the designer is the contractor’s most important partner. This is particularly true of renovation projects. 


Project management and installation team must understand the contract

Building services contractors must ensure that the project management and installation team are familiar with the contract and its special characteristics. In turnkey projects, additional and alteration work consists of changes in systems or the scope of the project. This differs from other projects in the sense that not all changes to plans are regarded as additional and alteration work. For this reason, we must assign our best project managers, designers and technicians to turnkey projects. 


The importance of negotiation skills cannot be emphasised enough. When communication between the client and the contractor flows smoothly, costs are easy to monitor, and it is also easy to reach an agreement on project progress and additional and alteration work.


The commissioning phase is part of the project. In turnkey projects, the contractor has a greater responsibility to run tests and carry out final inspections in a timely manner, ensuring high quality. This also offers the contractor better opportunities to enhance implementation efficiency and produce the best possible result for both parties.


In the best case, turnkey projects allow for error-free commissioning, as with the Ruusupuisto project, which Are implemented for University Properties of Finland in Jyväskylä. Both the client and the contractor are happy when the project is commissioned on schedule and budget, with high quality.

Timo Nurisalo

The writer is a project manager who also assumes full responsibility for his diving partner.

building services contracting
turnkey contracting
turnkey project
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