This might come as a surprise to some, but the preconstruction phase is the most important phase of any construction project.
That’s right – this is the time when plans are finalized and the processes and procedures that’ll be used during construction are put into place. So by taking the time to carefully plan your estimates and organize your processes, you can enable your next construction project to run much smoother and be less likely to experience any problems.
First, it’s important to understand what preconstruction is and why it’s so important:
What is preconstruction?
Preconstruction is the phase at the beginning of construction before ground is broken. It’s an important series of steps and careful planning that needs to be completed prior to the start of a construction project and has a huge impact on the project’s success.
During preconstruction, the contractor and the owner work together to plan the project, select the materials, and hire the workers. This process is essential to complete thoroughly to ensure everything is in order prior to the start of the project. This includes a variety of different responsibilities and processes that need to be handled to maximize efficiency and minimize risk.
There are a number of risks involved in preconstruction, including cost overruns, missed deadlines, and poor quality work. To minimize these risks, it’s important to have a clear plan of action outlined to keep everyone involved on track throughout the project as it progresses.
Important steps in the preconstruction process
Finalizing the plans and drawings
One of the most important aspects of preconstruction is developing a construction plan. The construction plan outlines the details of the project and highlights all the specific tasks that need to be completed and how they will be sequenced.
It’s important to ensure that the construction plan is realistic, achievable, and complete. Otherwise, the project could run into problems that’ll cause your teams to not be on the same page – or even significantly delay the project.
Properly developing and securing the documents prior to a construction project is perhaps the most important step in the entire process – which is why it takes so much time in comparison to other stages of project design.
During this phase, the project architect creates the plans for construction then hands them off to the construction managers and the permitting team. This information will eventually be used by construction managers to create and manage the bids for the different requirements of the project.
Procuring materials and equipment
Another important aspect of the preconstruction phase is securing the correct materials for the project. This includes not only the physical materials that will be used in the construction, but also any permits or licenses that may be required. It’s critical that all of the necessary approvals are obtained before work begins on the project, as any delays can cause significant disruptions to the schedule.
Another vital part of the preconstruction phase is ensuring the designs for the project are accurate and meet all requirements. Any mistakes made during this phase can lead to costly changes later in the project.
To avoid these issues, it’s crucial to have a rigorous process for approving and testing designs.
In traditional design-bid-build methods, the bidding stage of the preconstruction process is when potential contractors submit their proposals to the client. During this stage, the contractor must present their qualifications as well as a proposal that outlines the work that they would complete if chosen for the project. The client will then review all the proposals and select a contractor based on their qualifications and proposed cost.
Utilizing a powerful software tool can help to dramatically improve the efficiency of bidding and managing bids and can also help to minimize the risk of issues developing down the road.
4 Important preconstruction risks to avoid
The preconstruction phase of a construction project is critical to the overall success of the project. However, this phase is also fraught with risks. Some of the most common risks in the preconstruction phase include:
Delays can occur for a number of reasons, such as weather conditions, material shortages, or labor disputes. Or – for seemingly no reason at all – in the years following the pandemic.
If construction is delayed, it can cause costs to escalate and can even cause the project to be canceled altogether. For these reasons, it’s essential to consider and plan for how you’ll handle delays during the preconstruction process.
Many general contractors are turning to more collaborative delivery methods and preconstruction tools that increase trust and transparency and allow them to procure materials and make decisions faster.
A change order is a request to modify to the scope of work or the specifications of the project, which can subsequently lead to increased costs and delays.
Despite who is initiating the change order, it’s imperative to address them as quickly as possible to ensure minimal delays and costs. Communication and transparency are critical when dealing with change orders to ensure everyone – from the owner to the subcontractors performing the work – is on the same page.
Being prepared to address and communicate change orders is a key aspect of the preconstruction process, because failing to properly manage and communicate them can blow up your relationship and project.
Inspections are conducted by various trades throughout the course of a project and are critical for ensuring quality and safety standards are met. Sometimes they aren’t… and when that happens, you might be facing weeks or months of delay, depending on the severity.
Failed inspections will not only delay the project, but also likely lead to costly rework. This is why the document preparation stage and securing permits are so critical to get right. To avoid this problem, you must be thorough, focus on assembling a capable and experienced team, and adhere to important local laws and regulations.
Disputes between the contractor and owner can lead to delays and increased costs. These disputes can arise over a variety of issues, such as the quality of the work or the payment schedule. If they are not resolved amicably, they can delay or even halt the construction project.
There are several steps that can be taken to help reduce the risk of contract disputes in the preconstruction phase. One is for all parties involved in the project to have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities (this is where running an effective preconstruction meeting comes into play).
Another is to make sure that the contracts are clear and concise, and that all terms and conditions are agreed upon by all parties. Using a preconstruction management platform can help to make this process a seamless one for construction managers.
Minimize risk and maximize efficiency with preconstruction software
Managing the preconstruction process on your own can be a very daunting task. That is why utilizing modern software that enables transparency and complete visibility into all aspects of this process is essential.
For more information on how to reduce the complexity of your preconstruction process and minimize the risk prior to the start of a project, reach out to our team of experts today at Join.