In managing construction, the preconstruction phase is the most crucial construction process as it lays down the pieces towards completing a project. One of the biggest milestones during the preconstruction phase is a meeting that ensures everyone is on the same page before anything starts.
When setting up a construction project for success, a preconstruction meeting can make or break a project, depending on how it turns out. This is essential for the planning phase, kicking off operations, and keeping them strong throughout the project lifecycle. But first things first – let’s define what preconstruction means.
What Does Preconstruction Mean?
The term “preconstruction,” as the name suggests, refers to the initial planning phase of the construction. Preconstruction covers everything from the initial project conceptualization from the date you break ground until the day the actual construction begins. In fact, preconstruction is the most vital step of all the phases in the construction process.
When the preconstruction phase is done correctly, you can ensure your project will be completed on time, safely, and within budget.
When Does the Preconstruction Phase Begin?
Long before scheduling work or purchasing materials, the project owner has a long set of critical decisions to make. The preconstruction phase begins at the same time as the project’s conceptual phase, when the owner defines what project to build and why.
A construction project’s ‘Why’ is the driving force and motivation behind the effort. What’s the overall vision and the overarching goal of the project, and what is the team trying to achieve? The project owner and key stakeholders must have a strong ‘why’ for pursuing the project for sustainability and to make the investment worthwhile—construction projects without a strong ‘Why’ rarely succeed.
After your team determines the project’s goal and vision, the next step is establishing how best to turn them into reality. By this time, the project owner and key stakeholders are ready to collaborate with the design, engineering, and operations teams to visualize the finished product. Now, the construction project is starting to take shape.
Now the construction or operations team gets more involved. A comprehensive preconstruction plan always considers the general contractor’s perspective. However, establishing schedules and timelines based on the project owner’s agenda, design, and asset requirements is where the construction contractors shine.
General contractors also kick off the procurement process during the preconstruction phase. This phase involves subcontractor evaluation, procuring the materials and resources required to complete the project and many other details. Contractors who adapt to new technology use the construction dispatching and scheduling software during this phase for easier delegation to the team.
How Long and How Much Is It Going to Take?
By the end of the preconstruction phase, total alignment between key stakeholders, the budget, asset requirements, and the schedule is complete. This collaborative effort results in a more efficient construction process that safely meets the project owner’s objectives with fewer costly mistakes and delays.
Now that we understand the skeleton of the preconstruction phase, we can discuss the meeting that starts it all.
What is Preconstruction Meeting?
In summary, a preconstruction meeting is when key stakeholders meet with the construction team to answer any lingering questions and ensure everyone is aligned and on the same page. They also collectively try to list any special considerations and identify potential areas of complication that could lead to change orders. Typically as one of the main contributors to time and cost overrun, change orders are a nightmare for any project.
Therefore, preconstruction meetings help everyone to finalize all project objectives and implementation methodologies. The various construction parties get a chance to have their say, while the construction team can voice any concerns beforehand.
What are the Benefits of a Preconstruction Meeting?
1. Make Formal Introductions
Even a small construction project involves a lot of stakeholders. This meeting is a good chance for everyone on the team to get to know key stakeholders, break down the ice between procurement and developers, schedule and operations, etc.
2. Review Designs One Final Time
At the start of this meeting, all designs and drawings should exist in a “for approval” status. However, if there’s any problem, you want to catch it from the get-go. Now’s your chance to review every drawing one final time and to ask designers any questions you have before work is put in place.
3. Establish a Roadmap
It’s easy at the beginning of construction to get lost in the adrenaline of finally starting a new project. The complicated realities of coordination, inspection schedule, and closeout seem non-existent and far away. And who wants to think about them when everyone wants to celebrate anyway?
Still, in the long run, this meeting can help avoid misalignments and miscommunication and make even the toughest construction jobs run smoothly.
4. Save Money
A preconstruction meeting is also a good opportunity for collaboration that help teams to optimize processes and have more efficiency. By avoiding delays, reducing change orders, and procuring materials wisely, you can jump on modern technology and pump up productivity.
Who Are Invited to Preconstruction Meeting?
The preconstruction meeting must include, at the very least, the project owner and general contractor. They’re the cornerstone of any project, and making significant decisions without them in the meeting is hard.
However, the more team member you can align in the meeting, the better for your project. Where possible, try to include the following personnel:
- Project Manager
- Project Director
- Business Development
- Project Developer
- Field Superintendent
- Procurement Leads
- Legal Counsel
- Safety Leads
Again, this is a good chance for everyone to voice their concerns, plan, and get to know everyone they would collaborate with throughout the project lifecycle. This is also the perfect opportunity to clear respective job scopes and delegate responsibilities using crew dispatching software to ensure accountability.
What’s on the Preconstruction Meeting Checklist?
It’s critical to prepare an agenda or checklist for the preconstruction meeting. A good preconstruction list helps your team keep track of essential items to be discussed in the meeting as well as relevant follow-up action items that must be scheduled.
The exact checklist will look different from project to project, depending on the objectives of the project owner. Though generally speaking, the following is the most basic list of things you should prepare for a preconstruction meeting:
- Project schedule
- Project plans and drawings
- Budgetary costs
- Safety plans and procedures
Again, the meeting agenda will look different since it will depend on the build, who’s keyholders in the process, how long the project will flesh out, and so forth. However, while you may customize the agenda depending on your construction needs, you will likely want to include the following items.
1. Project Stakeholders
Regardless of your project’s objectives, you’ll want to make this the first item on your agenda to know Who’s Who. This part is where you identify the project leads’ names and contact information for easier coordination between the project owner and contractor.
You should also review your list of subcontractors and their designated roles and timeline in the project. A reliable construction dispatching and scheduling software can make this step more efficient in the preconstruction phase and throughout the construction phase.
2. Review of Contract
Review all relevant contracts, design plans, and all legal documents with all stakeholders. If any issues arise, some clauses or items seem confusing, or if anyone has an issue, let them raise it now.
3. Documents Review
Similarly, you want to review all relevant documents before proceeding with your preconstruction meeting agenda. That includes:
Requirements and status of bonds
- Completion dates
- Requests for modification
- Weather delays
Putting a plan for how you’ll address each of these potential issues can reduce the number of headaches down the road.
Next, review your overall project budget. Thoroughly discuss the terms and conditions of payment as detailed in the program requirements or the other construction documents. You can also discuss completion requirements (e.g., if completion percentage or milestone basis) before payments are made so everyone is aligned with this.
5. Construction Schedule
Now is the time to discuss with the contractor any fixed start or completion dates that can be specified in the construction contract. If none, ask the contractor for their project timeline and discuss any on-top-of-mind issues or problems. Think of road restrictions, site conditions, weather conditions, time constraints, and other uncontrollable issues that might arise. Log the established dates in your construction dispatching and scheduling software so you won’t lose any details and keep everyone in the loop.
6. Change Orders Process
Establish the steps and requirements for processing change orders. Clear out who is authorized to issue change orders and revise set financial limitations. Moreover, clarify who will be the authorized employees to negotiate change orders.
7. Document Management
How do you plan to share, manage, and store records of construction documents during the lifetime of the project? Will you make a physical archive or store it in the cloud? Establish it there so everyone can get aligned with the documentation processes.
8. Communications Management
Lastly, review your project’s chain of command. There’s nothing that can waste more time than not knowing whom to contact. Instead of leaving people to guess who’s who, make sure everyone knows whom to contact about what and their job timeline. Maximize your construction employee scheduling software by keeping all this information in your online platform before the operation starts.
Overall, getting the right stakeholders and covering the discussed agenda items can set your projects up for success. It’s time to take back your wasted money and time by enhancing preconstruction meetings with the right construction dispatching software tools, such as Pro Crew Schedule.