Empowering pre-construction teams to design to budget



Engagement length

6 months


Product Lab

Tech stack

React Native
Material UI

The client

JE Dunn Construction is the 8th largest domestic general building contractor in the U.S. with offices in 26 locations and hundreds of project sites across the country.

They are a well-known leader in the commercial construction industry providing general contracting, construction management, and design-build services for clients big and small. One of their most impressive differentiators is their aptitude for innovation with the application of virtual design and other emerging technologies in the construction space.

JE Dunn's proprietary product suite which leverages extensive historical project data, complex engineering calculations, and building modeling information is the engine for how they do business today.

The business landscape

Their existing pre-construction estimation tool wasn't being utilized despite its industry-leading accuracy.

As many in the industry know, the most critical phase of any project is the pre-construction process when teams are working to determine the design, budget, and scope of the project. To find the best possible use of resources available — and avoid costly re-work — it’s imperative that there is a high degree of collaboration between the contractor, client, and architect.

To facilitate a more collaborative pre-construction estimation process and help mitigate the risk of having to change project designs further down the road, JE Dunn created Align. The first iteration of this piece of technology provided stunning accuracy to project estimation, with around only a 1% margin of error. Yet, the tool remained widely underutilized by JE Dunn employees due to complicated workflows and overwhelming interfaces.


Estimates are built each year at JE Dunn


Margin of error for estimates built within the tool


Of JE Dunn estimators have never used the tool

The challenge

How might we create a tool that facilitates budgeting conversations with clients, designers, and trade partners?

When JE Dunn approached Crema, they were looking for a partner to help them redesign and build an improved Align tool that would be easily understood by internal and external users alike. While it was functional, it wasn’t easily usable, as it required a significant amount of institutional knowledge to utilize and overwhelmed new users with a crowded UI.

The tool had great potential to differentiate JE Dunn from the competition by providing a superior pre-con experience helping them win more business, but it needed a serious renovation.

Crema and JE Dunn set out to completely re-imagine Align, not only to create an improved user experience, but to facilitate an estimation process that would enable estimators to find “ingenious ways” to save costs without sacrificing the goals of the project.

Engagement priorities

Create a design system for Align and future digital products


Simplify the user experience without sunsetting critical features


Leverage existing back-end capabilities and develop a front-end experience for web


‍Test and validate the product in accordance with component-based acceptance criteria and accessibility expectations

“The Crema team asked a lot of questions that allowed us to really think through our process and determine what we ultimately want to accomplish.”

Jason Hickam
National Pre-Constructions Director, JE Dunn
The result

A truly collaborative tool to help facilitate budgeting conversations

After 24 weeks of workshopping, user research, prototyping, designing, developing, and testing, the new and improved tool was ready to be rolled out to JE Dunn’s 130 pre-construction estimators.

  • A more intuitive workflow leads estimators through the recommended Target Value Delivery method to help improve and standardize the estimation process.
  • The simplified interface displays only the most important information making it easy for any clients or team members to follow along.
  • Related project imagery and cost data contextualize budgeting parameters for the client, designers and trade partners.
  • Data collected within the tool and other project information can be accessible by clients in a dashboard.
  • Overall the tool facilitates more collaboration around budgeting and goal-setting conversations between estimators, clients, designers, trade partners, etc.

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