If you’re not in construction, you might assume that projects start with bulldozers, front loaders and cranes rolling onto the site. Although this equipment may be used, preconstruction must take place before you break ground.
As the name implies, preconstruction is the phase that occurs before the build, and it’s critical to the success of the construction project. As with everything in construction project management, there’s a process, meetings, checklist and more. But first, let’s start with a definition.
What Is the Preconstruction Phase?
The preconstruction phase in construction project management refers to the preliminary planning and engineering services that the construction company implements before construction begins. The company starts by defining the project and identifying risks. This phase also includes planning and scheduling the scope and cost estimation by analyzing the job’s needs.
Preconstruction is important but so is having the right tools to create a schedule, assemble a team and develop a budget. ProjectManager is construction project management software that helps you plan your build so you can see if it’s worth pursuing. Our interactive Gantt chart helps you estimate costs, plan resources and organize tasks on a timeline. You can filter for the critical path and set a baseline to track project variance in real time to keep you on track. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.
Why Is the Preconstruction Phase Important?
The main reason for preconstruction is to ensure that you’re doing the due diligence before you start building. Without preconstruction, you can lose money and people can get hurt. This phase also helps persuade your client about the feasibility of the project but it can also have the opposite effect if the project is too expensive or not viable for other reasons.
If the client and the contractor agree to the job, that’s when the process starts. The constructor begins by providing the client with a cost and schedule for the construction project. The preconstruction phase offers the construction team a clear outline of their roles and responsibilities as well as an outline of the work to be done. The client learns what they need to do and how much it’s going to cost.
The price for this phase depends on the type of job, location of the site and the scope of the project. However, as stated above, the client can end the project before construction begins in earnest if they’re not satisfied. While it might be disappointing to do the due diligence and then not go forward with the project, it’s a lot less costly than abandoning the project as it’s being executed.
Preconstruction Activities List
Even though the preconstruction phase is abstract, it’s still practical. You need to have real people collaborating in real time in order to create proper estimations, designs, schedules and budgets. The activities that make up the preconstruction phase might not be done on-site but they require the same collaborative fabric that knits together a skilled crew. Having the right software will connect the different departments involved and allow it to run more smoothly. That process can be broken down into five main activities.
1. Model Coordination
This refers to the models that are created to show a scaled-down version of what will be constructed during the project. There’s a significant difference between a model and a physical structure, so these models must be structurally sound. To do this, many people have to collaborate including contractors, trades and designers. Naturally, it’s easier and less expensive to make changes to the model than the actual build, which is one reason why this is so important to preconstruction.
2. Material Takeoff
While you’re testing the model to make sure it’ll work, estimators on the project are working on forecasting what and how many materials are needed for the project. Every material that will be used must be quantified and sourced, delivered and worked into the project timeline.
3. Construction Estimating
Concurrently with the other two activities is the process of estimating the costs and prices associated with the project. The findings of the quantity takeoff will be part of the financial forecast, but it must also consider labor, equipment sourcing and rentals. This estimate will help in the creation of a final budget for the construction project.
4. Bidding Process
Now that you have estimations for the project, you’ll start determining who to partner with for the upcoming construction. This activity is sometimes done before estimates are completed, but either way, the bidding process is key to determining what your final budget and schedule will look like. Competing firms will submit their bids or tenders by estimating their costs and the general contractor will see which best fits their needs and financial commitments.
5. Preconstruction Meetings
Every construction project has preconstruction meetings to help properly scope the project with clear specifications and quality requirements. Preconstruction meetings help ensure that subcontractors are fully informed of the building plans to avoid expensive rework during the build. This helps reduce cost overruns and delays.
In order to have an efficient preconstruction meeting that communicates the project’s needs without wasting time, an agenda should be created. The agenda outlines the main points of the meeting and acts as a guide to keep the meeting on track.
The preconstruction meeting helps tie up loose ends and should be open to questions. There could be a document that’s missing or participants will want to confirm what they think is correct about a certain topic.
Having documentation to review on hand is important when conducting a preconstruction meeting. You’ll want to have a project contract that outlines everyone’s responsibilities and methods used to manage the project. The design is another crucial document to have such as renderings and blueprints. You’ll want to have the schedule handy in addition to the safety plan, site plan, quality plan and communication plan.
Preconstruction Outcomes Checklist
The preconstruction phase of a project is complicated; you’re outlining everything needed to run a smooth construction project which is already a highly choreographed dance between people, equipment and materials. We’ve collected the outputs of the preconstruction phase which is planned by the client, design team and construction partner.
The project scope defines what you want to accomplish and the requirements around the space, schedule and level of finishes to achieve your project objectives.
The construction project budget is devised by the design and construction teams who determine the costs involved in the construction project, including alternative solutions.
The project description is the design plans for the size, layout, character, quality, building materials and systems for the project, as well as any other essential details. This leads to the development of the construction plan that’s broken up into phases and a schedule.
The project team is made up of subcontractors and other workers who will execute the project plan. The general contractor will bid for subcontractors who understand the project and have time in their schedule that fits with the construction schedule.
When it comes to project materials, factor in a long lead time to ensure that they’re on hand when needed during the project. This means you must know what materials and equipment you need and how you’ll get them on time. This is your procurement schedule that’s part of the larger project schedule.
Permits and Inspections
Licensed contractors complete projects by the book, which means meeting code regulations, pulling permits and having the work inspected for compliance. Preconstruction thoroughly assesses risks and what could be done to mitigate them, including evaluating the construction site and understanding the permit and inspection requirements prior to starting.
Project communication is key to a successful preconstruction phase right through to the project completion. This is done by creating a communication plan that’s accessible and reliable for everyone involved in the construction project. The better the communication during preconstruction, the better the project.
ProjectManager Helps With Preconstruction
To accomplish all of your preconstruction goals, rely on construction project management software such as ProjectManager. Our software helps you estimate costs, onboard subcontractors and collaborate to keep everyone connected regardless of where or when they work.
Use Multiple Project Views
Preconstruction requires the coordination of different parties to figure out the details needed to execute the construction project, but not everyone uses the same tools. Our software lets you choose the tool you’re comfortable with including our dynamic Gantt charts or sheet views. There are also kanban boards, list and calendar views for subcontractors that need to focus on their tasks. Whatever view you use, it updates in real time and acts as one source of truth. This means everyone is always seeing the same live data.
Stay Connected With Collaborative Tools
Collaboration is critical. If you’re not able to connect the diverse groups who need to come together to deliver a successful project, you’ve failed before you begin. Our online software ensures that everyone can always work together even if they’re working from different sites. Comments can be posted to tasks that trigger email and in-app alerts. Anyone on the project can tag team members to bring them into the conversation. Plans and files are easily shared, and our tool has unlimited file storage to act as a centralized hub for all project documentation and drawings.
Once you move from preconstruction to construction, ProjectManager is already set up and ready to help keep you on schedule and within budget. Our real-time dashboard gives you a high-level view of six project metrics—no setup required. One-click customized reports dive deeper into project data and can be shared to update your client. We even have workflow automation to streamline your processes with task approval settings so only those authorized can change the status of a task. We’re your one-stop shop for all your construction needs.
ProjectManager is award-winning construction project management software that connects you to your crew while helping you plan, monitor and report on the progress and performance of your job. Real-time data allows you to make more insightful decisions. Resource management tools keep teams working at capacity. Timesheets are secure and track time on tasks. You can see why teams as diverse as those from NASA, Siemens and Nestle have chosen our software to deliver success. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.