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What Is Preconstruction? Phases, Activities, and Checklist

Micke Paqvalén
03 December, 2023

If you’ve been around the construction industry you’re likely familiar with the term “pre-construction”. Successful contractors know that proper planning sets the stage for a successful project. As the name indicates, any activities that need to take place before construction begins, fall into the category of preconstruction.

This article will dissect the preconstruction stage and dig deeper into each part of the process. So you can have all the necessary information at your fingertips when filling out the pre-construction checklist.

Table of Contents

What Is Pre-construction?

Who Attends the Preconstruction Meeting?

What's Included in the Preconstruction Checklist?

The 3 Phases of a Construction Project

Benefits of Preconstruction

Software in Preconstruction


What Does Pre-Construction Mean – And Why Is It Important?

The preconstruction definition is services that support project owners, engineers, architects, and contractors in making decisions for a construction project. One notable preconstruction meaning is that these activities occur before the actual construction is underway.

So why is this process so important? A well-performed pre-construction phase will help the client decide whether the construction project can be followed through or not. For example, they might discover that the work required for the project is too expensive, or that it’s not feasible within the site boundary.

Once the contractor and client are aligned on whether the work is viable, the client will receive the cost and schedule for the construction project. As mentioned above, preconstruction is a service and comes at a price that will depend on several factors, including:

  • Job type
  • Location
  • The project’s scope

Preconstruction encompasses all of the initial planning stages of a project. The client works closely with the contractor, design team, construction management, and other parties to finalize the blueprints, scheduling timeline, budget, manpower needs, and more.

The purpose of scheduling a pre-construction phase is to help the team lay the groundwork so the construction project can move forward seamlessly. Experienced contractors know what to expect, and early planning can mitigate potential issues.

That being said, it also allows the client to be proactive instead of reactive. It’s less costly and time-consuming to uncover potential misalignments during the preconstruction phase, compared to doing it throughout the construction project.


Who Should Attend a Preconstruction Meeting?

It’s common for several meetings to occur during the preconstruction phase. The initial meeting is usually between the owner and general contractor to set the stage for the following steps. As the preconstruction phase continues, the subcontractors can be pulled into the meetings.

The key to a successful preconstruction meeting is to invite relevant participants and have a clear agenda about the discussion topics. One effective strategy is to use a preconstruction meeting agenda template to outline what to expect. Sending out an agenda before the meeting helps everyone stay on topic and makes this process more efficient.

A lot of small and medium-sized projects tend to skip the pre-construction meetings. This can be a big mistake since even a small project can turn out costly if it doesn’t go according to plan. 

Here’s a list of some stakeholders that might be involved in the meetings:

  • Project Manager
  • General Contractor
  • Quality Control- or Site Monitor Superintendent
  • Safety Officer
  • Procurement Manager
  • Human Resources Manager
  • Project Accountant
  • Chief Estimator
  • Legal Counsel

Whoever’s involved (of the key players listed above) should commit to the matters that impact their responsibilities in the construction project. Ideally, everyone should individually map out the best ways to contribute to a successful project.


Preconstruction Checklist: Key Activities Carried Out During the Preconstruction Planning

A variety of activities need to happen before the formal start of the construction project. Not only will a preconstruction meeting (sometimes several) take place, but ongoing communication is critical to keep all involved parties in the loop.


Common activities on a construction checklist for the preconstruction phase include:

  • Learning more about the client’s needs and requests
  • Assessing the feasibility of the project
  • Site evaluation
  • Analyzing soil conditions
  • Outlining the scope of work for the project
  • Plan reviews
  • Determining preconstruction cost estimation
  • Finalizing financing details
  • Signing contracts and work agreements
  • Establishing a project timetable and setting up the target schedule
  • Safety reviews
  • Identifying a plan for communication
  • Organizing services and utilities
  • Identifying any potential issues that might come up
  • Addressing any legal concerns
  • Acquiring necessary permits to perform the work

Even though the general contractor oversees the construction project phases, this process is a collaborative effort to ensure the entire team’s success.


3 Distinct Construction Project Phases

Most construction projects can be broken down into three building construction phases, and there is a clear difference between preconstruction and the actual construction phases.

  1. Preconstruction Phase: Anything that needs to happen before construction begins must be included in the preconstruction phase. This planning and preconstruction phase establishes a strong foundation to help the main construction services move forward as needed.
  2. Construction Phase: Now it’s time for the physical construction to begin. This is the phase when heavy machinery moves on site, excavation is underway, and the building is going up. The construction phase is the most visible phase of the project.
  3. Post-Construction Phase: When construction is complete, the last phase is to finalize the site. This phase usually involves cleaning up, demobilizing, removing equipment from the site, and any other activities on the construction punch list that must be addressed before the project is handed over to the owner. Part of post-construction is often delivering documentation related to the project and training the owner on operating systems and equipment as needed.


Benefits of Preconstruction Services: Save Time and Money

Successful preconstruction planning has an undeniable impact on saving both time and money on a project. For example, when the preconstruction team predicts the size of the structure and estimates the materials that will be needed, then it’s easier to streamline the purchasing and lock in the best pricing.

Additionally, pre-construction planning can effectively reduce labor costs by avoiding last-minute changes and minimizing the risk of delays. Strategies can also be implemented to optimize material usage, which helps reduce waste and manage overall materials expenses.

It’s easy to see that preconstruction can be one of the most important steps in the project to ensure that your team stays on schedule and that you are sticking with the outlined budget. Decisions made during preconstruction will have a long-lasting impact on the entire project.

Other benefits of preconstruction services include:

  • Effective communication between all parties involved
  • Accurately recording construction cost estimates to maintain the budget
  • Ensuring optimal productivity through every stage of construction
  • Improving quality oversight and control
  • Reducing waste and decreasing the risk of rework expenses
  • Identifying risks as early as possible to support safety on-site
  • Avoiding environmental damage during the construction work
  • Minimizing the impact on neighboring properties

Undoubtedly, preconstruction is a critical phase to support the overall project. When a solid foundation is in place, the planning and construction can move forward successfully.


Construction Scheduling Software in Preconstruction

Modern technology makes a big difference in overall communication, planning, and more. Not only can a construction scheduling software keep all contractors and participants on the same page, but these tools can also be helpful for task management, cost estimates, and more.

At Buildbite, we offer one app for efficient construction project management. Our goal is to help your team streamline operations, manage tasks, and collaborate in real time. Download the app to try it out, or schedule a demo if you’d like to learn more.