What is Preconstruction?
Why is preconstruction the most important step in the construction management process? Preconstruction is the first step in any construction project, which begins when you decide to build your new home or remodel an existing one. This process can take anywhere up to three years, depending on the size of the project.
During this time, you will work with your architect, builder, contractor, general contractor, subcontractors, etc., to ensure everything goes smoothly. The reason why preconstruction is so essential is that it allows you to get all your questions answered before you start building. It also allows you to see what changes need to be made to your house if you plan on making any major renovations.
Preconstruction 101: The Construction Basics
The term "preconstruction" refers to the entire process of designing, planning, budgeting, and organizing a construction project. In other words, preconstruction is the beginning stage of a construction project.
In many cases, preconstruction can include the design of the structure itself, as well as the interior layout, furniture placement, and electrical wiring. Building owners use this information to determine whether the proposed project is viable and affordable. They also look for ways to reduce costs and improve efficiency during the construction phase.
The preconstruction phase usually lasts anywhere from six months to three years. During this period, architects and engineers prepare detailed drawings and models to show clients images of the possible finished product. They also estimate how much it will cost to build the project.
The preconstruction process includes the following:
- Designing the space for your project
- Making sure that local authorities approve the plans
- Planning out the timeline of the project
- Budgeting for materials and labor costs
- Organizing contractors, architects, engineers, and sub-contractors
- Choosing a location for your new home or remodeling project
What are the Phases of a Construction Project?
There are three primary phases involved in the construction process:
- Preconstruction: During the preconstruction phase, you will work closely with your architect, engineer, and contractor to plan out the details of your new home or remodeled space. You will also have access to various resources such as blueprints, floor plans, elevations, and more. These documents will help you visualize what your project will look like once completed.
- Construction: Once you have decided to move forward with your new home or remodel project, you will begin the construction phase. During this phase, you will work with your contractor to complete the actual physical construction of your new home or renovation. Your contractor will oversee every aspect of the project, including the installation of plumbing, electricity, heating, and air conditioning systems. They will also coordinate with subcontractors to ensure they meet their deadlines.
- Post-construction: Once the construction phase is complete, you will enter into the post-construction phase. During this phase of the construction process, you will continue to live in your newly constructed home or renovated space until it is ready for occupancy. You will still need to pay rent while the construction project is underway.
Importance of Preconstruction
The preconstruction phase is important for laying out the scope of any project.
Preconstruction is a critical stage in building projects because it sets the tone for the entire design and construction process. It also helps ensure that the project meets the client's needs and expectations while minimizing potential risks throughout the job.
The most common way for contractors to manage the preconstruction phase is by the department. For example, a general contractor might have separate architectural, engineering, permitting, and legal departments. Each department works together to develop a project's overall vision, including defining the requirements to complete the project successfully. Once those requirements are defined, each department begins working on the appropriate tasks to meet the goals outlined during prequalification.
Benefits of the Preconstruction Phase
Preconstruction saves clients’ money and time. Here are some examples of how it benefits a construction project.
- Reduces construction costs: By working closely with the architect, engineer, and client you can identify ways to save money throughout the project. These savings include identifying areas where you can reduce waste, improve efficiency, and streamline workflows.
- Improves project schedule: This will help you plan and organize resources to ensure that the project moves forward without delay.
- Increases safety & security: Through careful coordination and communication, you can ensure that the site is safe and secure while minimizing disruptions to your operations.
- Ensures better value engineering: When you engage with partners early in the process, you'll have the opportunity to review documents and communicate issues with the designer and builder before construction. This coordination will help avoid costly surprises and increase the chances of getting the best product.
- Minimizes risk: With a well-documented preconstruction plan, you can test equipment, verify plumbing layouts, and confirm electrical schedules. These activities allow you to address any concerns before they become problems.
During the preconstruction stage, contractors outline every aspect of the construction process, including the timeline, budget, scope of work, and any special requirements for the building owner.
- Project scope: A project scope determines what you want to accomplish and the requirements around the time frame, budget, and level of finish required to achieve your project goals.
- Project budget: The construction team determines the project's cost, which includes alternatives for solving all budget issues that may arise during the construction phase.
- Project description: The development plan includes the design, broken down into phases, and a timeline. It also consists of the construction plan, divided into different stages and budgets.
- Project team: The project teams are composed of subcontracted workers and others who will carry out the project plan. As a general contractor, you'll need to bid for subcontractors who know the job and understand your construction budget and timelines.
- Project materials: To be sure that everything you need for your projects is available when you need it—plan by considering long lead times. You must know what materials and equipment you require and how you will obtain them on time--known as your procurement plan.
- Permits and inspections: Licensed contractors must meet specific standards, including following building codes, obtaining necessary inspections, and completing work according to specifications. Before starting any project, the preconstruction phase evaluates risks, which includes assessing the construction sites and understanding the permits and inspections required before starting.
- Project communication: Communication between different parties involved in a construction project is crucial throughout the process. A communication plan is created by ensuring that everyone involved in the construction has access to the same information simultaneously. Better communication between the client and architect during preconstruction will result in better-run projects.
How is technology streamlining the preconstruction process?
Preconstruction technology is helping businesses to become more efficient in their day-to-day project management. No longer tied to paper files and spreadsheets, construction firms store data online to be accessed whenever and wherever they need it.
Specifically, there are two main areas where cloud software helps with preconstruction:
- Estimating: This is an area where most project managers struggle. Estimating is about getting the correct numbers and knowing what they mean for the business. For example, if there is a $10M project, a company might expect to spend around 10% of that amount on design fees. If you are blind to the costs, you won't be able to predict your total budget accurately. Estimating software can help contractors to replace manual processes and reduce errors.
- Documentation: Another area where technology can help is documentation. The more detailed the documentation, the easier it is to understand the project further. For example, a business working on a new office space will need to provide detailed floor plans, elevations, sections, etc. These documents are often particular and can take up a lot of room to store. However, if you've managed all these documents online, you can search through them when needed.
Preconstruction Software to Support Project Management
Project management software helps project managers manage projects effectively. Construction projects are complex endeavors that require coordination across multiple departments. To ensure successful completion, project managers must juggle budgeting, scheduling, staffing, and resource allocation. The use of construction project management software will help make sure everything goes smoothly. There are many types of project management software depending on what kind of project you're managing.
Preconstruction software is built to manage better projects, including crucial business data in the estimating workflow. Moreover, cloud preconstruction software needs to streamline the entire bid submission and evaluation processes. Keep track of job opportunities and document their statuses, for example, "bidding," "bid accepted," or "award." A software solution should also be able to easily create project estimate reports, which organize costs by cost codes and location. Finally, packaged RFQs (Requests for Proposals) with estimates help with vendors' requests and pricing analysis.
How Deltek Supports The Construction industry
Deltek ComputerEase is the leading construction software for job cost accounting, project management, and payroll services—delivering solutions that help customers connect and automate the project lifecycle that fuels their business. Deltek’s dedicated team is committed to providing service excellence and product innovation, adapting to the evolving construction compliance requirements.