For professionals in the industry, managing construction is a commitment that must be upheld from the start to finish of a project— with project closeout being one of the highlighted phases. Most people outside the industry understandably have very little insights and knowledge of what a closeout or turnover is or why it is as important as all the different construction phases.
Project closeout, unfortunately, is often overlooked as a critical component in the whole construction process. In most cases, this last leg phase of construction operation can make or break an alternatively successful project. In order to give a better sense of how critical the post-construction phase of the project is, this article will provide a deeper perspective of the closing out activities.
Let’s explore the project closeout management and examine the role and tasks project managers are accounted for at the end of a construction project.
What are the Issues That Arise During Project Closeout?
Project closeout is the final phase in construction processes and a vital step in construction management, which happens before the project handover or turnover to the project owner. This phase commences once the physical construction of a structure has been completed. Project closeout of any construction project is a complex process since it requires taking considerable steps to follow to see the project in a bird’s eye view.
Every construction project has a myriad of moving parts, which is evident in the physical construction phase and operations. You will have temporary utilities, equipment rentals, waste management, material staging, and construction crew management to coordinate with the general contractor team.
Some of the final steps that happen in a construction project closeout are as follows:
• Preparing the job site for the turnover to the client
• Ensuring that all works have been completed in accordance with the contractual obligations
• Making sure that the quality of the final output is aligned with the project requirements
- Cleaning the actual construction job site
- Returning rented tools and equipment
- • Disposing construction wastes in suitable places
- Removing temporary facilities and utilities, especially for water and electricity supply
- Final inspections and doing needed reworks to have a smooth handover process
- Turnover of the relevant documentation to the owner, especially financial-related files
In a nutshell, project closeout is generally preparing a construction project for the turnover to the client. This can also include organizing documentation of the project and turning it over, cleaning up any remnants or leftovers from construction, and walking the owner through building maintenance procedures to ensure that the turnover will go efficiently without unexpected issues.
Any changes that need to be finished before the owner taking over must also be completed during this time. This is referred to as construction punch list and requires collaboration between the construction project manager, general contractor, and subcontractors, and any required trade contractors,
Why Is Project Closeout Important in Construction Process?
You might be asking why a project closeout needs to be managed when it is already the last straw in the construction process? After all, many of the various tasks involved in the closeout of the project are relatively straightforward. Everything from the organizing and turning over documentation to the cleanup of the job site seems, from the external perspective, that it would be part of business as usual. The truth is, to make sure that a project is completed successfully, the project closeout process needs to be well-coordinated and managed.
The mistaken belief is that construction projects are a single coherent entity from beginning to end. However, construction projects are comprised of a variety of different completed entities that come together for that particular project and then disperse after. Each of these entities has respective responsibilities to do, which are usually focused on specific phases. Demobilizing these different entities involved in the project while ensuring that all have completed appropriate tasks requires high-level, efficient coordination.
What is Included in the Project Closeout Checklist?
Now that we have provided a broad overview of the definition and importance of project closeout in construction and how it needs to be adequately managed to ensure a seamless turnover to the client, you are now well aware of the basics.
To dive in a little deeper, below is a breakdown of the critical components of project closeout that will show you why this last phase can make or break a successful construction project.
1. Site Cleanup
A project site that is ready for handover is one that is free from any traces of construction operation. Site cleanup is a significant undertaking on its own.
- Break down temporary buildings
- Remove temporary utilities to remove
- Dispose of waste and debris to dispose
- Return rental equipment to return
A messy construction site that isn’t quite ready for handover can potentially be a potential for last-minute delays and a bad impression to the project owner. As the saying goes, a company is a reflection of its product.
Once the project’s physical structure has been completed, the project manager and the project design team will go through a general walkthrough of the project and note down all the items that still need to be improved, changed, or rectified; this process is called punch listing. A punch list is considered an extension of the project operation in most companies and has been done regularly during the construction phase. However, other companies consider it as a final step and only conduct it during project closeout.
- Punchlist items completion
- Final inspection and occupancy
- Final cleaning interior
- Final cleaning exterior
- Change order completion
- Walkthrough with the owner for final approval (if needed)
Clearing punch list items requires good coordination between the general contractors, subcontractors, and other third-party trade contractors to ensure that all of the changes have been appropriately rectified in accordance with the project specifications, budget, and scheduling in construction.
3. Equipment and Staff Training
Most people, either inside or outside the construction industry, forget that new structures come with all new equipment to operate and maintain. While you may have documentation for all processes and machinery in the handing over files, you also want to make sure that the people who will inhabit a particular building will know how to operate its equipment.
- Attic-stock materials handover
- FFE Installation
- Handover of manual, warranty, and training materials
- Building System Testing
- Handover of facility
- Fulfill any training requirements
- Create customer package with manuals, maintenance, etc.
- Risk utilities
Training on the equipment before the building that houses it becomes operational is one of the proven ways to ensure a smooth transition in the handover of the project. Usually, the construction management team will coordinate with the project owner and their staff to schedule when training can occur before the turnover occurs.
4. Document Control
Collecting and handing over essential files and documents is one of the most crucial steps in project closeout management. Throughout the project, your team will undoubtedly generate a ton of paperwork. These physical recordings of all the activities, contracts, budget, and completion papers are important as they signify a lot of data in the project that may be needed to refer to in the future.
- Complete as-built plans
- LEED documentation and submission
- Handover of asset documentation
- Reconcile financials
Additionally, document collection is essential if legal disputes happen down the road. Having the proper document at hand can prevent misunderstanding between the project stakeholders as well. In order to have peace of mind with your documents, trusted project management for construction software can help you keep all your documents in one place, which you can access anytime, anywhere. Whenever you need your records, you can pull them out as required without scavenging through mountains of paperwork.
What are the Common Issues During Project Closeout Phase?
There are some prevalent construction pitfalls that crop up during the closing out of the project. These issues can introduce cost and schedule delays to an otherwise successful project. No matter how perfect the construction process commenced, the result will still bring an unsatisfactory conclusion to the project- and we don’t want that.
Below are some of the common problems that you can prevent eight from the project planning phase to ensure a quick and hassle-free project closeout.
1. Punch List Delays
When not sorted out early, unfinished punch list items can worsen the already ‘for rectifying’ components in the building, which means more rework and more time and money to spend.
2. Incomplete Documentation
Missing and lost papers may result in various decision-making issues, in the long run, that might cause the project owner to seek the help of the previous construction team then soon turn into a liability.
3. Communication Breakdown
The uncoordinated and eventual breakdown of communication between project stakeholders can introduce considerable delays to each component of project closeout. Completion of punch list items may be delayed, and document collection may not be as organized.
Project closeout is a critical moment in the lifespan of a construction project. Through effective oversight and organization, and the potential issues associated with project closeout can be avoided from the very beginning. Even though it isn’t often thought of, the post-construction phase can produce delays that can impact the project timeline and budget.