What is Preconstruction & Why is it Important?

Young man drawing digital images over construction site

The preconstruction phase is a critical stage in construction planning. If executed correctly it can mitigate delays, optimise resource management, and result in satisfied clients.

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 the project will finish on time and within budget. Within the preconstruction process, there are different stages that typically occur sequentially:

  • Request for Proposal
  • Design Phase
  • Method Statement
  • Bidding Phase

Preconstruction involves planning, analysing, and understanding the different challenges of the project.

What is Preconstruction Planning?

To be able to identify the aspects that affect the preconstruction planning process, it is necessary to understand what planning and the planning process mean. It can be defined as a detailed proposal for completing a project on time and within budget, to the requirements of the client. This includes a timeline (programme) and a method statement which outlines how the construction process will address specific challenges in the project. Examples of this can be a high-water table, lateral support, access, neighbouring buildings etc. The method statement would also include Health and Safety, security, rubbish removal procedures as well as method of construction i.e. choice between premixed and site batched concrete.

The project planning process can be defined as the task of balancing costs and benefits to complete the project on time, to the requirements of the client.

Preconstruction Planning is essential for a successful project.

This plan needs to cover every element of the project ahead, including:

  • cost estimations and budget
  • a finalised design
  • a building timeline
  • the permitting process
  • identifying the necessary labour, materials, plant and subcontract resources

Basically, preconstruction planning is about laying a clear pathway for the project ahead to follow. This phase is about strategising and implementing the plan for the construction phase to run smoothly without surprises.

Understanding Preconstruction Planning

Preconstruction covers a broad area of planning and organisation, consider the following:

1.       The Project Scope

During the initial planning phase of the project, it is important to obtain a full understanding of the project scope. This should involve a total review of all the project plans, specifications, and data. Any possible constraints around the project should be noted here.

The first planning stages are about creating a vision of the construction process that will lead to the end result. This allows the contractors and clients to understand the kind of timeline and resources required for the project. It also provides a better understanding of the risks involved, the site planning, and design specifications.

Everyone involved in the design and build should become familiar with the project and gain a better understanding of what is to be expected ahead.

2.       Estimations and Budgeting

To understand the project scope, there must be a realistic budget to work off. Creating accurate construction estimates is vital in preconstruction. This will help to understand the resources required to complete the project.

The best way to reach accurate estimates is with specialised construction software like Candy. This helps to create estimates faster and allows everyone on the team to access the relevant information. Having accurate estimates helps to set a budget, from which proper resource planning and management can follow.

It is impossible to understand the full scope of the project without a realistic budget. This is an essential aspect of the construction project for both the contractors and the client. Therefore, focusing on getting estimations done as efficiently and effectively as possible is key in the preconstruction phase.

3.       Scheduling the Project

Once all the project requirements are understood, a complete schedule of all required tasks and processes can be compiled. This is not only important for outlining the flow of the project for stakeholders but helps to track the progress of the project during construction.

Having a clear and accurate schedule is a necessary tool for controlling and staying within budget. Schedules help to keep timelines on track, maintain deadlines, track progress and coordinate processes within the construction project.

Preparing a clear schedule in the preconstruction phase is necessary for a streamlined construction operation to follow.

Final Thoughts

The question “what is preconstruction?” is often asked by people who overlook the importance of this stage. Preconstruction planning will contribute significantly to the success of the project.

This starts with creating accurate estimates and budgeting toenhance construction management. Implementing good preconstruction planning will help to ensure a smoother project with fewer unforeseen issues along the way.

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