The Most Critical Steps in Preconstruction Planning

Discover key preconstruction planning steps with effective communication and construction project management software

Preconstruction planning is the most critical step in the construction process. A good plan can head off a world of change orders and budget increases. The more detailed the preconstruction process, the greater chance the project has for timely completion. When cutting materials the classic adage is “measure twice, cut once.” Preconstruction planning is that first measurement and is the best chance to set the project on a course of success.

Key Outcomes in Preconstruction Planning:

  • Scope – The scope is where you define the main deliverables of the construction project broken down by stage and specialty. Planning for and defining the scope of the project is critically important to the successful completion of each stage. The more detailed the scope is, the less confusion or contention there will be over deliverables. It’s imperative the owner is clear about everything they expect, otherwise contractors may interpret the scope differently than they intended.
  • Schedule – The project schedule delineates when each stage of the project is expected to start and close down, and the hours each team will work. Will they work regular shifts, or nights and weekends? The construction schedule should detail the entire project’s plan with clear deliverables and team assignments. It includes resource management, team members, task dependencies, and often budget and cost for each stage.
  • Budget – Getting a clear understanding of the overall budget of the project and how it will be allocated for each stage of the project needs to be clarified in the preconstruction phase. Defining the budget dictates many other aspects of the project. For example, the size of the budget makes clear what is feasible to be included in the final design, and the quality of the materials that will be selected. The budget needs to take into account materials, equipment, labor, licensing, legal costs, contractor fees, among other key elements of the project.
  • Management Team – Selecting the core team members and clarifying what their responsibilities are is fundamental to any construction project. This typically includes the owner, senior project managers, project administrators, superintendents, foremen, and similar. Having a robust and experienced leadership team is essential to the success of the project. In particular, having a team that has a deep knowledge of the work to be done and relationships with others in the field, will help each step of the project succeed.
  • Contractors / Subcontractors – The earlier you define which contractors and subcontractors are needed, the sooner they can be selected. These may include Electrical, Mechanical, HVAC, Concrete, Drywall, Steel, Plumbing, and other Specialty contractors. For larger sections of work, they might be given advance notice to check their availability.
  • Labor – Selecting the personnel needed for each part of the project, such as equipment operators and field workers, will ensure you have the crew in place to get the work done. At the end of the day, having honest and reliable workers will make sure the project gets built correctly. There’s a wide variety in skill levels across workers. Selecting those known to provide reliable work will ensure fewer delays or recalls on work completed.
  • Vendors – What other vendors are needed to achieve successful project completion? These may include everything from food and restroom service providers to safety specialists. Outlining every vendor that will be on the schedule and payroll will prevent delays and help the project run smoothly.
  • Suppliers & Materials – Defining the type and quantity of materials should be done during preconstruction planning. This may include lumber, concrete, steel, drywall, aggregate, scaffolding, and similar. Sometimes the suppliers are preselected, other times they’re selected as each stage of the project progresses. The sooner the plan and price for all the materials are put in place, the better. It’s best to find out during preconstruction if there’s a shortage of a certain material, or if the prices are significantly higher than expected.
  • Permits, Licenses, Inspections – Having a clear understanding of the legal and compliance requirements that are needed to complete the project in its city, county, and state jurisdiction, is highly important. These can take time to schedule and need planning to ensure every aspect of the project and its contractors are up to code.
Preconstruction Planning

The Essential Role of a Project Management and Communication Plan in Preconstruction

With so many core fundamental requirements, there’s one aspect of the preconstruction phase that needs to be the highest priority – defining the project management and communication plan so all teams stay connected and on track. For example, it’s typical to have change orders throughout a project. Putting a communication plan in place to streamline the most common types of project communications will significantly reduce delays and cost overruns. You can find a complete list of leading construction management software solutions here.

Linarc’s construction project management software connects communications and teams across all phases of construction projects giving people the tools for context-based real-time collaboration.

  • Easy Project Management – Seamless collaboration with your subcontractors and project crews lets you stay on top of tasks, manage at-risk work, track punchlists, handle safety incidents, and maintain quality control.
  • Real-time Collaboration – Schedule your work and get real-time field updates with cloud-managed software. Stay connected with the owner and bidders to realize the vision of your designs. Share and discuss documentation, designs, compliance, and problem-solve with your subcontractors and stakeholders in real-time.
  • Simple Operations Management – Always stay on top of your costs and scheduling throughout your project. Share and discuss design documents and files with your general contractor, subcontractors, and crew members, tracking all changes to ensure nothing is lost.
  • Total Control and Complete Visibility – Get comprehensive information on your project crews and always know where your tools and resources are. Take advantage of complete visibility, maintain control over your project schedule, and gather insights through useful metrics and analytics.

Unifying Tools and Communication Platforms in Preconstruction Planning

Construction projects are sometimes referred to as “50 separate companies building the same building.” Each has its separate tools, processes, and communication platforms. Smaller contractors will rely on the simplicity of spreadsheets to track their projects. Others may use more advanced construction project management software. Many communications are relegated to email, which results in them potentially getting lost in their inbox. Chat systems, while helpful, can prove difficult to track critical messages over time as well.

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These problems can be solved by implementing a unified communication tool for all contractors, subcontractors, vendors, and core decision-makers across the entire project. With tiered permission and notification systems, you can ensure the right people are getting the information they need when they need it.

Some systems take this a step further giving you a company-wide view with oversight across all projects. For example, if you’re purchasing 10 yards of concrete for one job, and 15 for another, you can combine that into a single purchase order and save money by getting a volume discount by ordering in bulk.

Crafting an Effective Preconstruction Plan for Construction Success

Preconstruction is the initial planning phase of a building project. During this phase, key technology and management decisions are considered. The construction team and client’s scope and schedule are out. Moreso, sustainability goals toward green initiatives, streamlining of measurement indexes, and relevant KPIs are set in the preconstruction plan.

Suitable preconstruction planning helps prevent issues and confusion among the teams, which can be too costly for a construction project.

Of all the critical steps in the preconstruction phase, establishing an efficient communication plan across all groups will tie everything together. In today’s construction world, projects need strong communication to keep all teams – from the main office to the field – connected.