Preconstruction. What is it and why is it important?

Important information that project managers and GCs need to know.

Beginning a new construction project is an exciting time for everyone. From the project owner, who contracts the build, the contractors and other workers actually completing construction, to the community that benefits from the new office building, housing development, or landmark!

While most of the excitement comes from the actual building process and the final resulting structure, it’s important to spend time during the preconstruction phase to ensure overall success from start to finish.

So, What is Preconstruction?

On every construction job, there is an initial planning phase known as preconstruction. The purpose of this phase is to set expectations, by planning out the scope and schedule for the entire project. Planning involves anticipating client needs and aligning with key stakeholders regarding design and timelines. The more work that is done during the preconstruction phase, the more likely that your project is going to finish on time and on budget! Within preconstruction, there are few different stages that typically occur sequentially:

Request For Proposal (RFP)
This begins the bidding process for the design phase. Typically the owner has a budget and timeline for completion in mind but they’re usually open to creative and style ideas from the architects.

Design Phase
Once the architectural firm has been selected, the design phase begins. This phase is all about consulting with other members of the construction team (such as structural engineers, landscape architects, mechanical engineers, etc.) to put together preliminary drawings. Collaboration is key during this phase, presenting an early opportunity to move away from manual processes and use digital methods – allowing you to easily work more closely with the owner and to ensure their needs are met.

Construction Document (CD) Phase
The work that happens during this phase is of utmost importance for the Project Manager or General Contractor overseeing the project. Efficient execution and coordination here will cut down on change orders, and help to maintain project budgets and schedules. How effective one is at managing this phase can make or break the overall success of a project. Completion of this stage requires submitting documents to the city and securing the proper work permits.

Bidding Phase
Once the structural design has been approved it’s time to start hiring contractors to execute the vision. Approved permits are then gathered with the final specs to begin preparing a bid package to distribute to specialty contractors.

Working with Contractors and Subcontractors

With the shortage of skilled labor, the bidding phase often presents a lot of uncertainty for Project Managers and General Contractors. Some of their primary concerns involve making sure their teams are appropriately staffed and that everyone is aligned on expectations with clear and open lines of communication for collaboration and execution. When all key participants (including subcontractors) are aligned, it’s easy to focus on completing a project on time and within budget. The preconstruction phase provides a great opportunity for contractors and subcontractors to focus on how they can effectively plan and work together to mitigate risks and avoid any major setbacks.

Streamlining Your Preconstruction Process

We all know the preconstruction phase is complex and comes with a lot of variables, but the more time you spend in this phase the fewer obstacles that will arise during the actual construction phase. Having the right tools, without overwhelming your team with too many systems, is essential to ensure success. With so many moving parts and stakeholders to coordinate with, it’s easy for things to slip through the cracks. While the need is clear, there are very few tools that truly improve efficiency and power real-time collaboration. This is where STACK comes in. STACK makes it easy to navigate, organize, and manage your plans with unique software features like text & keyword search, drag & drop plan organization, and autonaming for plan pages. These features can help increase bid coverage for GCs and make it easier for subcontractors to find and evaluate plans based on their discipline. In addition, because STACK works seamlessly with planrooms the direct transition from an ITB platform into a takeoff and estimating solution increases the overall accuracy of contractor bids.


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