The 6 Stages of a Construction Project
Building a new structure is an expensive and time-consuming undertaking which means that mistakes can be costly and financially devastating to any project owner, this is the reason why construction projects are subdivided into definitive phases to ensure all aspects of a build are successfully delivered.
Although there are many kinds of construction projects, they all follow a common and linear pattern.
The 6 Stages of a Construction Project:
1. Initiation Phase
2. Design Phase
1. Initiation Phase
A construction project's initiation phase is one of the most critical stages in the construction process and it primarily consists of comprehensive planning and the involvement of professional counsel, usually through the tandem of an architect and engineer to make sure the design adheres to national standards and is structurally sound.
The objective of this phase is to lay the foundation from which the entire construction plan and roadmap is created. Avoiding costly and frustrating surprises can be achieved by addressing potential issues up front.
The components are an integral part of the concept phase and must be identified and addressed during this phase:
Objectives - A new construction project begins with a mission or objectives statement that lay out the rationale behind the project. Size, scale, location, type of building, preferences and background information are also provided in the objectives statement as this helps the design team produce a well-tailored schematic design that fulfills both aesthetic and functional requirements.
Stakeholders - Proper identification of all concerned stakeholders involved in the decision-making process of a project must be clearly identified in order to prevent costly back and forth between the project management team and the client.
Budget - In the construction industry, budgets are perhaps the most important factor to consider in the initiation phase. The entire project rests on the availability of funds to ensure its completion. Owners or clients must be transparent about their financial limitations in order to set proper expectations and align all aspects of the construction process. Financial discussions also include return on investment rates, especially if the project is initiated by a business.
Feasibility Study - The purpose of feasibility studies is to establish whether the project is viable and worth pursuing. It primarily consists of a thorough assessment of the budget in relation to the requirements. Careful study of environmental and social impacts are also taken into consideration, as well as regulations, permits and laws governing the site’s jurisdiction.
Project Delivery Method - Choosing the most beneficial project delivery method for a construction project is also determined during the concept phase. It is important to identify and assess each in relation to the project requirements, budget and timeline.
Factors that influence the selection of the Project Delivery Method:
- Owner’s Experience
These are the widely used project delivery methods:
Design-Bid-Build: Also known as the traditional method, it is the most commonly used project delivery method. With this method, the owner hires an architect to create the design, once completed, a bidding process ensues to help secure a separate contractor to build the design created by the architect. Throughout the project, the architect will act as overseer of the entire construction project.
Design-Build: In this setup, both design and construction service are provided by a single entity which is the contractor. An in-house architect that is part of the contractor's team will provide the design. The main benefit of the Design-Build method is that it allows for a faster project completion because of the streamlined structure that fosters efficient operations and collaboration between design and builder.
Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR): This method employs a Construction Manager(CM) that acts as the owner's representative during the entire project lifecycle, from design until completion, the construction manager takes responsibility for the overall accomplishment of the project.
Construction managers offer the benefit of having an industry expert oversee the whole project ensuring quality and efficiency across the board for all aspects, as well as a mutual risk component that the CM willingly undertakes. The CM also influences the architect's design through value engineering, which means finding cost-effective options for design and materials to use. Once the design is finalized, an initial estimate is produced by the CM that indicates the Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) of the project, and if the project exceeds the GMP then the CM will shoulder the expenses beyond the agreed GMP, on the other hand if the GMP is not exceeded, it is usual practice to agree on a percentage commission paid by the owner to the CM.
2. Design Phase
After the concept is finalized, the requirements are translated into a complete and detailed architectural design. A project owner and an architect collaborate and work together to arrive at a design that fulfills all of the concept’s requirements.
Programming is the process where the scope, requirements and criteria of the design are determined and written into an organized document that shall serve as the reference throughout the design process. The programming phase is especially important in avoiding unnecessary back and forth changes in the design that impede the progress of the project.
- Schematic Design
Once the design is approved and all parties have agreed on the program, the architect then condenses all the information into an initial schematic design. Preliminary floor plans, sections, elevation, materials, landscape concepts, electrical, mechanical, structural engineering, building code and also estimates are all included in this design.
- Design Development
Once the schematic design has been reviewed and approved by the owner, the design is further finalized in preparation for the last step.
Activities in this phase include:
- Finalizing construction materials
- Finalizing design revisions
- Finishing materials
- Clearing up code issues
- Revising cost estimates further to reflect final changes
- Construction Documentation
Also known as Tender Documentation, these official documents include the project brief, finalized design, specifications, materials and other pertinent information a general contractor needs in order to submit a bid. A crucial part of the last step in the design phase is the application for prerequisite building permits.
The term preconstruction is an umbrella term that encompasses all the activities undertaken before actual construction takes place. The principal aim of preconstruction is to establish a strategic, well-documented and detailed roadmap to achieve a project's objectives.
After the design is finalized and the tender documentation has been published, the process of bidding officially begins.
But before a bid is submitted by a general contractor, a cost estimate must be generated and included in the bid. Price is the main driver of bids and hence it is particularly important for owners to obtain accurate estimates because these projects have budgets and timelines that are closely related to the repayment of creditors and the generation of revenue as quickly as possible.
In order to create estimates, construction firms need to perform a construction takeoff, also known as material takeoff which basically means performing a tedious in-depth inventory and cost analysis of every single material to be used in the project.
Takeoffs are the most time-consuming aspect of the estimate, especially when done through manual or traditional methods that include printing blueprints and doing cumbersome measurements and calculations on a spreadsheet.
Estimators spend a significant amount of time completing an estimate and since bids are a time-sensitive matter, these takeoffs need to be completed as quickly as possible in order to submit a timely bid or risk losing out on the opportunity.
Recent advances in construction technology have paved the way for improved methods of performing takeoffs that significantly reduce time spent in performing a takeoff. Digital takeoff software has eliminated the need for paperwork, lengthy computations and measurement instruments, however this software still relies on estimators to manually draw and identify areas and walls which can take days to complete despite being performed on a computer. The latest development that addresses this inefficiency in takeoff software has been achieved through AI.
Togal.AI is the world’s first AI estimating software that can finish a takeoff within minutes and not days. By leveraging deep machine learning algorithms, Togal.AI quickly analyzes drawings and produces accurate takeoff reports in record time. The faster estimates are finished, the more bids that can be sent, and the more projects to potentially win. Request a demo to learn how Togal.AI can integrate with your workflow.
Construction procurement refers to the process of acquiring the necessary goods, materials, manpower and services required to build a construction project.
Effective procurement management enables projects to stay within scope, budget and timeline requirements. This may seem straightforward but in a construction project, there are a lot of variables at play when sourcing materials and labor.
Factors that influence procurement options in construction:
- Environmental and weather conditions
- Site accessibility
- Labor supply
- Materials availability
- Materials cost
- Equipment cost
- Delivery and lead times
In this stage of the construction project once the bid has been won and a contract is signed, the General Contractor now reviews and selects subcontractors to be assigned for the project.
The GC is also responsible for subcontracting works under the general contract. They also act as the supplier manager ensuring that all services, materials and equipment fulfill cost and quality requirements.
Procuring should be carefully planned since each decision can have unforeseen effects throughout the construction lifecycle. Balancing these objectives is a complex task with many conflicting priorities and trade-offs that need to be carefully calculated to ensure that performance and cost requirements are met.
Additionally, navigating and mastering a complex supply chain is a key skill that General Contractors need to master in order to effectively deliver cost-efficient and high-performing projects.
To learn more about the procurement process read this in-depth guide: Construction Procurement: Everything You Need to Know
Official groundbreaking and actual construction only begins after comprehensive planning and preparation in order to set up the project for success. Project management is at the heart of this phase and is the cog that governs and drives the project, ensuring that risks are mitigated, cost overruns prevented, scope creep averted, timelines followed and requirements are met.
The major activities that take place during this phase include:
- Site clearance
- Erection of welfare, admin and other temporary facilities for the construction teams
- ExcavationInstallations of foundation
- Road works
- Electrical works
- Plumbing works
- Fit out
Monitoring and management of these activities are the main contractor’s responsibility while the design team performs quality control to monitor progress in ensuring the works conform with approved design and contracts. There are unavoidable scenarios that force the main contractor to request changes in the specifications that may also affect the design. These must be submitted for review and approval by the design team before it is implemented.
Construction work does not end when the last job order is completed, there is one last step to take to ensure proper handover of the finished project.
The final stage in a construction project's life cycle is called the post-construction stage. It is an administrative phase in which quality control, building manuals, documentation, and official paperwork are documented and submitted to the client to assure that the project was built to specifications. Also known as project closeout, it is the final milestone in a construction project and acceptance from the owner signifies its completion.
Before the project is turned over to its owner, the general contractor is required to perform quality control and safety inspections. Site cleanup and demobilization of labor and equipment also take place in this stage.
A construction "punch list" is created by the General Contractor to keep track of outstanding items for completion. The punch list is an itemized audit of minor defects, non-compliances and deviations from specifications that a general contractor must rectify prior to the final payment.
During client review and sign-off, a Certificate of Substantial Completion is issued by the Architect which is necessary for filing for a certificate of occupancy in order to permit usage of the building.
Major official documents given to the owner are the following:
- Change orders
- As built drawings
- Operations and maintenance manuals
- Safety manuals
- Provisions for future expansion
- Request for information
- Inspection certifications and clearances
- Pay submittals for contractors
- Certificate of Substantial Completion
- Certificate of Occupancy
Upon completion of the construction project, the general contractor, architect and the owner convene to conduct a walkthrough of the building and to commence handover. The client's sign-off is a major requirement for legal purposes and signifies project completion.
Engaging in a construction project is a complex and arduous process for all stakeholders involved, with each phase of the construction stage having its own distinct components, activities and processes. General contractors looking to deliver excellent and successful projects that help increase their customer base as well as boost client loyalty need to master every phase of the construction stage.