t Dubrow Group, we define four stages and provide services every step along the way. Understanding the stages within a construction project aids in navigating the process, brings awareness to project budgets and timelines, and sets realistic expectations.
The four stages of a construction project as defined by Dubrow Group:
Stage 1: Pre-Construction
The Pre-Construction phase covers all the activity that takes place before the actual construction begins. We believe this is the most critical phase in the construction process. In this phase, thorough planning improves design, thereby ensuring efficiency and clarity during the most expensive phase in the project construction. It is crucial for the key members of the project team to be part of this planning stage to achieve project success.
There are six steps in the Pre-Construction phase.
1. Project Conceptualization
A construction project starts with the thoughts, ideas, and requirements in mind for the construction project. The project scope established at this stage will help set timelines and budgets. The team should be continually measuring back to the initial scope parameters to make sure the owner’s desires are met with the final product.
Items to consider:
- Purpose of the Space or Building
- Square Footage Requirements
- Required Rooms & Features
- Preliminary Budget
- Preliminary Schedule
2. Site Selection
The project owner may have a parcel of land to build on or need to acquire one. Regardless of whether the land is currently owned or to be purchased, there is necessary due diligence to be done to ensure that the desired construction project can be built on the property.
- Determine whether there are existing structures that must be demolished
- Determine whether any existing structures have a historical designation
- Identify zoning regulations, including maximum square footage and height restrictions
- Identify any covenants or restrictions that are in place that would further restrict your build options
- Identify any architectural review boards that would have the authority to regulate aesthetics
- Identify any FEMA requirements related to the property
- Identify any nearby wetlands or other natural habitats that might require Department of Environmental Conservation approval.
3. Assembling the Project Team
Assembling a construction project team is a critical step in the process. The key project team members represent the following areas:
- Design. The design team typically consists of the architect, engineer, interior designer, landscape architect, and specialty vendors such as IT and AV design.
- Legal. The legal team consists of key members of the attorney’s office who will review all the contracts required for the project. They will also advise on legal matters such as permitting and property rights or local restrictions and can represent the project owner for approval hearings by local authorities as required. If the project is facing complex permitting issues, the legal team may need to include a permitting expediter.
- Construction. The General Contractor (GC) or Construction Manager (CM) will lead the construction team and supply all construction materials, equipment, and labor for your build. Other professionals on the construction team may include a landscape contractor, tennis court or gym specialist, automation/IT installer, or audio/video installer.
Note: If the project delivery method utilized is the Design-Bid-Build method, the construction team would not be identified at this point.
4. Planning and Design
Once the architect is selected and engaged, they will begin developing schematic plans, which incorporate all of the requirements identified during the conceptual phase of the Pre-Construction. The schematic plans will show the general size, positioning of rooms, and the shape of the overall project.
Once the schematic plans receive approval, the architect will move to the Design Development stage, where details begin to be added to the floor plans and finishes are presented. As the floor plan becomes, more settled members of the design team will start their work. For example, the interior designer will begin developing palettes of finishes and furniture for review. The landscape architect will develop landscape plans to connect the outside spaces with the structure. The home will begin to come to life via floor plans, renderings, finishes, and imagery.
The design team will also coordinate with the legal team to ensure that the plans meet the permitting requirements. If necessary, they will also develop strategies to apply for variances. It's best to ensure that permits will be approved before moving forward.
Upon completion of Design Development, the architect will develop the plans into Construction Documents (CDs) that provide the details on how to construct the project. At this point, if there is a CM on the team, they will begin engaging some of the specialty trades to engineer and design mechanical and electrical systems to be incorporated into the CDs.
5. Bidding, Negotiations, and Value Engineering
Upon completion of the CDs, there will be enough information to prepare bid packages and issue RFP’s to select the construction team. This step is only required in the Design-Bid-Build method. If the Design-Build, Construction Manager at Risk, or Integrated Project Delivery methods are utilized, the GC would be selected at Step 3, Assembling the Project Team.
Once the plans are completed, the necessary documentation will be submitted to the local building department to obtain the required permits and variances. As soon as the permit is approved and received, the project is ready for construction.
Stage 2: Construction
The construction phase begins by finalizing the construction schedule, and then “buyout” begins. Buyout is a construction term that describes the process of the GC issuing purchase orders and subcontracts required for the construction project.
Work is typically bought out in project order; for example, excavation and foundation work typically begins at the start of buyout. The next areas of work are purchased and contracted to start upon completion of this first phase of work, with each phase building on the last. The GC coordinates the daily activities on-site, ensuring that the construction team follows the CDs and specifications.
The GC will coordinate Requests for Information (RFIs) from subcontractors that require approval from the design team. The GC coordinates material procurement and delivery creates and manages the schedule, and orders prefabricated components such as windows. The GC will also arrange for the local building department to schedule the required inspections. Maintaining the schedule for inspections and monitoring work to ensure it will pass inspection is one of the most critical tasks the GC will attend to on any given day.
All landscape construction and site work such as pools, tennis courts, plantings, and softscapes installations are typically at the end of the construction schedule to avoid interfering with the construction of the buildings. Specialty or owner-supplied trades coordinate with the GC to deliver their scope of work. This may include smart building technology, for example.
Stage 3: Closeout
Before moving into the new space, the local building department needs to issue the “Certificate of Occupancy” (CO). Final documentation will be submitted to the building department, and once they review all final inspections and documentation, the CO can be approved and issued.
As part of closeout, the architect and interior designer walk through each room of the new space and identify any details that need to be addressed by the construction team. Typically, a list of those items is known as a “punch list.” The construction team will address each punch list item to resolve the issue.
Once the punch list is completed, the interior designer will have the furniture and fixtures installed. The A/V provider will program the smart building technology, and you will receive training on how to operate all of the systems.
The construction stage is complete when it reaches “Substantial Completion,” meaning that the work has reached the point where it is ready for its intended use
When a project has reached a stage called “Substantial Completion,” the project is considered complete and is when the contractor receives their final pay-out. Substantial completion, simply stated, is when work has reached a point where the space is ready for its intended use. While the building is ready for use, there typically are a few small details that the various vendors may need to complete or modify.
The GC submits the closeout paperwork, including final pay applications, lien waivers, owners’ manuals, and warranty information. Then, you can schedule your move-in date.
Stage 4: Post-Construction
Once the new space is occupied, the warranty period begins. The GC is responsible for fixing any material or work defects during the warranty period.
Maintenance plans, including service contracts, should be developed, and the owner or a third-party property management company should monitor their status. The objective is to ensure that everything remains in good working condition and that items requiring regular maintenance receive the service they require. Monitoring is also needed to spot potential issues and provide solutions before more extensive, and more costly problems arise.
Next up: Project Delivery Methods