How Pre-Construction Efforts (and Processes) Save Headaches, Time, and Money During the Building Phase

10/1/2021

Long before the first contractor sets foot on a job site, the pre-construction process begins. Whether you're erecting a new building or making major upgrades to an existing building, the pre-construction process is of critical importance. By putting together an efficient pre-construction process, you can often save headaches, time, and money during the building phase--not to mention ultimately creating more satisfied clients.

What is the Pre-Construction Process?

The pre-construction process is the stage before the construction process, and can even overlap with the beginning of the construction phase. It includes all the planning and details of the construction project, including the scope, what kind of timeline the team needs to operate on, and the approximate cost of the project. During this phase, contractors and clients have the chance to go over the details of the project and make sure they know what obstacles they might need to avoid along the way. This is also the phase where subcontractors are brought on board to work with the general contractor during the construction phase.

What Needs to be Covered During the Pre-Construction Process?

During the pre-construction process, your team will deal with many of the details of your upcoming construction project. You will lay out:

  • Permit acquisition strategies
  • Engineering evaluations, inspections, and requirements, including zoning requirements and local regulations, if necessary
  • What building materials are needed for the project (and any shortages or delays that may impact the final project)
  • Scheduling obstacles on either end, including specific deadlines that the construction team may need to meet in order to successfully navigate the client's needs
  • Any particular risks associated with a particular project
  • Environmental studies and impacts that might impact the construction project
  • The client's vision for the project (and any changes you may need to make to that vision in order to make it realistic)
  • The full scope of the project
  • Setting project budgets
  • Establishing the buy-out strategies of various bid packages, including subcontractors and trades

How Can Your Pre-Construction Process Save You Headaches, Time, and Money During the Building Phase?

A carefully crafted pre-construction process can offer a number of benefits to your building phase and, indeed, to the entire construction process. During the pre-construction process, you have the opportunity to take a look at many of the obstacles that may crop up during the building process and address them before they become much more serious--or before they become emergencies. There is no need to "reinvent the wheel," so we suggest you look at already established processes and lessons learned from obstacles encountered in previous projects. We call this a company's knowledge database. At LinkedField, we help your company with creating and/or managing this knowledge database.

1. Ensure everyone is on the same page. 
During the pre-construction phase, you have the chance to sit down with the client in a low-pressure environment and make sure that everyone is on the same page about how the project will be executed once construction starts. That shared vision is a critical part of ensuring client satisfaction. By taking the time to set it out during the pre-construction phase, you can avoid costly changes in the middle of the project due to an insufficient understanding of the client's needs. It is equally important to have regular realignment meetings throughout the construction phase to adjust the plan as needed. We suggest a monthly cadence, but this can vary depending on the specific project duration. 

2. Ensure the budget is approved and understood.
When you create an estimate for a project, you may have to make some assumptions about particular elements of the project. Then, when the process begins, you may discover that the client has vastly different expectations--and all of them can significantly add to the cost of the project. Quickly, the project can end up over budget. In addition, during the pre-construction process, you have the ability and time to modify the designs and requirements of the project to actually adhere to the client's budget. If a client has a mansion-sized dream on a shack-sized budget, you can help work down those expectations and give the client a better idea of what you can deliver to help make those dreams reality while adhering to that budget. Last-minute construction costs, often brought about by client change orders, can completely derail a project's budget. By addressing those concerns in the pre-construction phase by setting up allowances and contingency budgets, you can create a more effective plan to absorb future change order requests. 

3. Ensure potential problems are laid out. 
During pre-construction, some of the problems that you might experience during the actual construction process are more likely to come to light. By planning ahead of time--and analyzing potential risks regarding everything from supply shortages to weather challenges--you can plan ahead for how you'll respond to those delays--adding allowances to the project budget. In many cases, that simple step can make it much easier to respond to potential emergencies--and prevent the project from going over budget.

What Does an Effective Pre-Construction Process Look Like?

During the pre-construction process, there are several things you need to take into consideration in order to make it as effective as possible.
 
1. Make sure every project starts with the same checklist.
Design a checklist that incorporates everything you need to know about a project, any questions you need to ask of your clients, and what materials you will need. A pre-construction checklist can go a long way toward establishing that you're ready to begin your project. 

2. Bring in the right team members.
There are several people who may need to be involved in the pre-construction process. Make sure you involve all the right team members, from representatives from the client to the members of your team that can supply needed information. 

3. Nail down the details.
During the pre-construction process, you should nail down most of the details associated with the project. Answer any client questions and clarify any questions or concerns you may have. Invariably, you'll encounter may details that you can't answer at that moment. Instead, you may have to revisit that issue months down the line during construction when a particular subcontractor is on board. LinkedField provides a knowledge platform that makes it easy for your project teams to track these "future" issues during pre-construction and automatically deploy the knowledge at the right time. 

4. Set out a timeline. 
Make sure everyone knows when each stage of the project is supposed to happen. You may need to set specific deadlines for when specific elements of the project will be done. 

Don't forget to make note on the timeline of any decisions that have been delayed until the construction phase. Set a specific deadline for when those decisions need to be made, and set a reminder in your LinkedField knowledge software so that you'll know when that decision has to be made--and take care of it before it turns into an emergency. 

5. Take clear notes that are easily accessible later.
The pre-construction process is great, but it won't do you any good if it isn't passed down to your field management team later. LinkedField can help create a database where you can store and share that information and automatically deploy that knowledge, which can make it more accessible to all the members of your team later. 

Completing your pre-construction checklist effectively--and making that information accessible to everyone from the project managers to your general contractors--can make a huge difference in your project's completion and efficiency. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help with your knowledge transfer to your project management team.