Construction project managers face more challenges than many of their counterparts in other industries. Construction comes with an unusual amount of complexities due to hundreds to thousands of activities performed by numerous stakeholders. They also involve sizable sums of money with many competing interests working together to pull them off. Because of this, smart construction managers rely on a construction project management checklist to help them get started on the right track and stay on it.
Why have a construction project management checklist?
The greatest benefit of a construction project management checklist lies in the early stages of a project. Once a project is underway, you’ve got a schedule and schedule of values to help you stay on track. But without a checklist for the early stages, you will likely overlook or altogether forget some issues. So your checklist is mainly to help with your project review that leads to creating the schedule and breaking ground.
While each construction project is unique, they all have similar aspects and processes. The biggest benefit of using a project checklist is that it makes your review process consistent. Each project manager or superintendent has their own work style, so a checklist helps you consistently follow your favored methods and do it with greater accuracy. If you prefer to review a project’s scope before digging into the contract, your checklist will reflect that preference. So just like no two project managers or supers are the same, neither are their checklists.
A secondary benefit of a checklist is that it helps you avoid forgetting the finer details of your reviews. If you look for specific items when doing a plan review, having those on a checklist ensures you don’t miss them. . By having your checklist break things down to their lower levels, you can focus on the details without losing sight of the bigger picture. For instance, a task to review the contract is much vaguer than several smaller tasks to review specific aspects of the contract.
By using a checklist, you will know your reviews have turned up all the most likely factors to derail the final schedule of construction.
1. Contract review
A project manager or superintendent who isn’t familiar with the contract can easily make mistakes that jeopardize the project and their company’s interests. Project management for construction differs from project management for other industries, so construction contracts reflect this reality. Every project has multiple parties and the contracts list their responsibilities, and the contracts apportion the risk and outline the procedures to hold the parties accountable.
A PM who doesn’t know the claims factors and procedures can easily miss opportunities to recover costs associated with the mistakes and oversights of others. When a PM isn’t familiar with the general conditions, they are in the dark about the rules governing their relationships with the owner and the designers. Other key aspects that PMs and supers need to be aware of include the work of the contract, payments, and dispute resolution.
Besides the contract with the owner, many projects include contracts between the prime contractor and subcontractors. General contractor PMs and specialty contractor PMs need to have a working knowledge of these contracts as well.
2. Scope review
Every construction project management checklist needs to list the review items for the project’s scope. The scope is the work, and without a thorough understanding of the work, you can’t manage a project. Your scope review should also include the review of the drawings. The two need to match up. If the scope includes features not shown on the drawings, it will become a problem once construction gets going. Similarly, if the drawings show features not shown in the scope, you will have conflicts during construction.
Project management for construction gets more complex as the scope increases. But there is also more complexity when the owner doesn’t have a well-defined scope. For example, building in accommodations for future use requires having the future use in the scope with the details of its construction. Otherwise, the scope is open-ended, and that always leads to trouble.
3. Existing conditions review
Every construction project starts with existing conditions. Whether it’s a new build or a renovation, you must always address existing factors. When your construction project management checklist includes a review of these existing conditions, it helps you find and subsequently plan for hidden problems.
Are the utilities so far away that you need extra provisioning to get them to the site? Do you need temporary services or temporary structures to overcome harsh terrain or conditions? Did some previous use of the site leave behind issues you must deal with before construction can start? Are there people or companies nearby that pose risks or require extra accommodations?
When dealing with a renovation, you often have more questions about the existing structure. You have to know where utility lines run, and you need to understand the structure and what components carry its loads. You also need to understand any changes others previously made to the structure.
In all cases, your existing conditions review should track with your scope review so they each inform the other.
4. Risk review
Project management for construction is an exercise in finding and solving problems. That’s partly because construction is loaded with risks. If you do a realistic review of the scope and existing conditions, you have already completed a portion of the risk review. By listing those factors, you can plan to mitigate them or get insurance.
But there are many other risks that automatically come with any construction project. You have labor availability risks and materials availability risks. You have weather risks, and you have risks arising from the larger macroeconomic picture. The more risks you can account for before starting construction, the better your risk plan.
Finally, consider your checklist a work in progress. As you come across new surprises, add a checklist item. If you adopt a new tool or process that makes a checklist item unnecessary, remove it. A checklist loses its value if you don’t use it, so keep it relevant and current.