Pre-Construction Tips For A Successful Construction Project

As a company that consistently builds temperature controlled facilities, there are many similarities that we see on each project.  However, as we build on different sites and in different regions of the country, each project presents its own challenges relating to site conditions, budgets, schedules, environmental and other regulatory constraints, state and federal funding programs, incentive packages, inspection agencies, and the list goes on. 

A clearly defined schedule created during the pre-construction process helps identify key dates and milestones, and is an important tool to set proper expectations and get the project started on the right foot.

The Design-Build process begins with a concept that develops into a construction plan through multiple phases of the design which allows the plan to grow sequentially.  The development of pricing is often paralleled with the design process to further understand overall cost to the owner or stakeholders.  This is a critical point where the scope is defined and more importantly, it is the right time to identify risks to the project as well as gaps in the scope of the project.   It is a Project Manager’s role at this early stage to foster this development process.


This time period prior to construction activities beginning is vital to the success of a project.  This is the opportunity to develop a list of qualified contractors to bid the project.  If there are specific requirements as a result of public funding, then it is often necessary to throw a wider net for potential bidders.  Identifying the right contractors for the project early on can increase quality, ability to meet schedule, and maintain budget.

Careful consideration should be taken during the contractor selection process.  The big name contractors aren’t always the best choice, as these companies may not be competitive or provide the attention needed for your project.  The other end of that spectrum is the lowest cost contractor.  They can present even more risk as it relates to quality, payment of second tier subs, maintaining schedule and budget.  Another major consideration is the bidder’s financial strength and safety record which can be researched through Dun & Bradstreet or similar sources, as well as

The bid process needs to include comprehensive bid documents to ensure accurate material take offs and pricing.  Having a detailed schedule at this point will also help to prevent cost and scope creep during construction as the sub will be contracted early on to meet your deadlines.  This can ultimately lower contingency costs in the sub-contractors bid price, prevent change orders, and keep the project on schedule. Below are a few of the necessary items to include in a bid package:

  • Geotechnical reporting of soil borings and their locations are critical to the success of a project.

    General description of project

  • Subcontract agreement and insurance requirements
  • Project schedule
  • Scope of work
  • Applicable drawings
  • Geotechnical report
  • Preliminary electric load sheet
  • Request current accident incident rate report
  • Request safety program

It is also recommended to request a list of references as well as similar past projects the company has worked on.  Calls should be placed to the references, and if possible, site visits scheduled to inspect the quality of subcontractor’s work.

During the pre-construction phase there are many other factors such as permitting, compliance issues, and constructability that can have major impact on the shape and scope of a construction project.  Identifying and coordinating with all parties involved early on will help ensure successful outcomes on the project.

Assembling a critical path flow chart for the permitting requirements and distributing to the design team will set the pace for design reviews, submittal dates and break ground date.  This should include due diligence, rezoning, any variances needed, plan commission for site and building, public notices, reviews and final approvals. This process is different for each municipality and it is recommended to schedule a meeting with the City Manager or someone in a similar role to fully understand the requirements and time frame for this.

Insurance companies can have a significant impact on construction requirements and costs on a project.  There are varying levels of risk that insurance companies are willing to take and that will drive specific requirements on fire protection, roofing systems, fire ratings of walls, backup generators, blast relief systems, etc.  These items need to be identified early so as to implement in to the design as well as budgets.

Within the industry, focus on pre-construction efforts have substantially increased over the last several years in effort to reduce unforeseen costs and schedule delays.  Many clients are requiring a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) for their projects, in some cases prior to having 100% completed design documents.  This can be done effectively with a project team that fully understands the scope and requirements and can communicate realistic information to clearly define the project.

The key to a successful construction project begins with a properly laid foundation in the pre-construction phase. From choosing the right subcontractors for the job to being proactive with insurance companies and being aware of funding guidelines, this is where the footings are laid for an on-budget and well-built project.  Contact us at (260) 490-3000 or via email for more information on how we can help get your project started on the right foot.