11-1 Benefits of Preconstruction Meetings :: The Construction Management Pro

11-1 Benefits of Preconstruction Meetings

In working with owners and contractors there seems to be a prevailing question, “What is the benefit to pre-construction meetings?” On smaller projects, some owners don’t feel the need to have one. They believe that they will be there to answer any questions.

We understand that construction is a process that links together the project scope, budget and schedule. In order for the project to be successful the owner’s vision of the project must be clearly communicated to all team members. The team members must understand their roles and responsibilities and the operating procedures that will be necessary for project execution. Issues regarding communication, coordination and schedules need to be fully discussed prior to the initiation of any construction project. This is best done during a pre-construction conference.

Attendees at this important meeting should include the owner, architect (if engaged), general contractor, the the owner’s rep and the major subcontractors. The purpose of this meeting is to walk through the project with the principals involved in the process. there are many issues that arise during a construction project. The sooner we are able to identify them and the approach that will be used to handle them, the smoother the project will be. Doing the pre-construction conference we talk about the order in which construction will take place. The purpose is to identify any conflicts in the schedule, to identify long lead items, and to issuer that the parties to the construction contract understand when items need to be in place and what activities are dependent on them. Reporting requirements and quality assurance and quality control should be discussed. This provides the owner with an opportunity to impart to the team his expectations for the project. It also provides for the framework that will be used to inform the owner of the project’s progress.

There should be a clear understanding of how decisions which need the owner’s input will be handled, the time frame for those decisions and who has the authority to make those decisions.  Lastly, if not most importantly, is the matter of payment. All projects should had a schedule of values. This document delineates the project by task and assigns a percentage of the contract cost to each task. The schedule of values can be incorporated into the project schedule. In so doing, a project cash need chart is developed. This document then lays out what activities should be accomplished at what point in time and what compensation the contractor has occurred upon completion of the task. This helps avoid misunderstandings regarding how much the contractor is due to be paid and whether or not the owner has overpaid for the amount of construction completed to date.

No project is without Change Orders. What constitutes a valid request for an adjustment in the contract amount, time or both should be reviewed and understood by all parties.  Disputes resolution should be addressed early in the process so that a methodology can be instituted to reconcile conflicts. The pre-construction conference serves to define individual and group responsibilities, existing conditions, time sensitive events, special task and plans for work continuity as they relate to the project’s construction. This can only have a positive impact on the success of your project. Failure to do so could lead to confusion, misunderstanding and avoidable delays and extra costs.

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