If you’re not in construction, you might assume that projects start with bulldozers, some concrete, loaders, and cranes rolling onto the site. Well, it is wrong! Construction projects start with a pre construction phase.

The construction industry has a crucial planning phase commonly referred to as “pre construction phase”. Nothing gets done without a plan! In the same way that the pre-writing phase is crucial for effective blog writing, the pre construction phase is crucial for effectively executing any construction project.

In fact, before a construction project begins, there is a lot of planning, designing, and number-crunching that needs to occur. A major part of project planning is done during the pre construction phase, which sets the tone for the entire project. But what is pre construction phase, what activities does it include, who is involved in pre construction activities, and why pre construction is so important?

The article discusses pre construction information and provides essential insights to help you understand it better. Without further ado, let’s explain pre construction information in greater detail.

What is pre construction?

As its name suggests, pre construction, or simply “precon,” is what comes before construction. It is the initial phase of a construction project during which strategic planning, design, engineering and other pre construction activities take place. It is where the foundation of the construction project is laid.

A successful project begins with a pre construction phase. Pre construction process provides an initial approach for developing the budget, costs, scope, schedule, and more to execute the construction project effectively. A communication management strategy is also developed at the pre construction stage to keep everyone connected and on track.

Construction projects are not singular and homogeneous endeavors. Instead, they encompass a sequence of events  that need to be accomplished progressively. To facilitate the understanding of how a project idea materializes, construction projects are typically divided into distinct phases. The pre construction phase encompasses a set of events that are either commonly or indispensably undertaken before actual construction commences.

Did you know? It is at the pre construction stage that many construction projects fail, as the owner is unprepared for unexpected discovered challenges or risks.

Who is involved in pre construction activities?

Architects and Design Professionals, Engineers, Estimators, General Contractors, Subcontractors, Suppliers, Legal and Contractual Consultants, Financial and Environmental Experts, and Construction Managers are involved in pre constructoin activities and work all along with Project Owners/Clients during this phase.

What does a pre construction manager do?

The main role of the pre construction manager is to organize and oversee the planning and design phase of a project. He is the project manager, the main point of contact for the client. As important as pre-construction managers are, they also contribute to developing the plan that will work best for the client.

The pre construction manager will work with the client to develop an understanding of the project and the client’s wants and needs to effectively get the project rolling.

The importance of pre construction

There’s no overstating it: pre construction process is essential to the success of any construction project. It gives the general contractor a jump on the project. With a clearly defined scope, the general contractor can pre-qualify subcontractors and reach out to them for bids and quotes. The groundwork is already in place should the client decide to move forward with the project.

In spite of the fact that the client has to pay for pre construction services, the amount is usually small in comparison to the total cost of the project. Pre construction phase is essential to estimating the constructability of a project and refining it if there are any potential problems occurring, definetly worth investing in!

Consider the scenario where you fail to identify a critical issue that would render the entire project unworkable and have already invested time and money into it. In such a situation, what actions would you take upon discovering the problem later?

Additionally, pre construction phase is crucial to managing client expectations, especially in the construction industry. During the construction phase, it is common for clients to become overly optimistic and enthusiastic about their projects. However, in the pre construction phase, you can mitigate this by clearly communicating timelines and providing accurate cost estimates. Pre construction phase provides a clear picture of what the project will look like and how it will get done.

Pre construction projects: Typical pre construction steps

Some of the key outcomes of the pre construction process are:

●      Scope

– (Also called project deliverables, details, definition, or description), the first aspect of the plan that will come at the pre construction stage is the scope of work.

The scope of a construction project refers to the specific boundaries and objectives of the project. It defines the work that needs to be accomplished, the deliverables to be produced, and the desired outcomes. The project scope outlines the activities, tasks, resources, budget, and timeline required to complete the construction project successfully. It includes details such as project goals, requirements, specifications, constraints, and any relevant documentation. The scope ensures that all stakeholders have a clear understanding of what will be done, what will not be done, and the overall expectations for the project.

●      Schedule / Timeable

The project timeline defines the project start and end dates for each phase or task of the project, as well as the working hours and shifts for the teams involved. Initially, the preliminary schedule provides a general framework to inform the client about the expected start and completion dates of various project aspects. This schedule will be refined as project decisions are solidified, giving the client a clearer picture of the construction process.

●      Budget or Cost Estimation

Budget is key throughout any construction project. However, it’s particularly very important at the pre construction stage. Why is that? In pre construction phase,  the client will have a confirmed expectation of the costs for the first time. Ok, now how does the contractor come up with a number?

Establishing the budget is tricky. The contractor determines the budget by evaluating a lot of factors, including the costs of labor, various materials, equipment, transportation, licensing, legal costs, and contractor fees, among other key elements of the project. In many cases, the budget will include cost-saving alternatives.

●      Project Team/Labor & Responsibility Matrix

In any construction project, it is crucial to carefully choose the core team members and clearly define their respective responsibilities. This step occurs during the pre construction phase. It typically includes all the people involved in the project.

The responsibility matrix is used before construction to identify deliverables by all parties involved and will specifically outline: Who is responsible for what? Who is providing what? Who will be handling what?

Since when the project is underway, the client, owner, manager, and contractor may all have a part to play, this responsibility matrix will keep all parties involved in the same plan and give a clear outline of who has signed up for what. Also, having a robust and experienced leadership team is essential to the success of the project.

Choosing reliable personnel, including operators and field workers, is crucial for timely, quality project completion. Varying skill levels among workers necessitate careful selection to minimize delays. Some team members excel in specific projects, requiring thoughtful assignments. Assembling the right team is key to successful outcomes in construction business leadership. Identifying capable subcontractors early enables efficient bid package preparation and reliable work execution.

●      Engineering  Activities

The earlier you define the general contractors and subcontractors you needed at the pre construction stage, the sooner you can identify them and hire them. These may include Mechanical, Electrical, HVAC, Concrete, Steel, Plumbing, and other specialty contractors. Project owners have two options: choosing a contractor they know or accepting multiple bids. The architect assists in evaluating and selecting qualified contractors, but owners should also pre-qualify them. During bidding, the architect answers contractors’ questions about materials, specifications, and others.

● Suppliers & Materials

Where will the construction materials come from? How much will they cost? Neglecting to address these questions during the pre construction process can lead to future problems. The pre construction phase involves determining the type and quantity of materials required for the construction. Suppliers may be chosen in advance or as the project progresses. It is crucial to establish a plan and pricing for all materials as early as possible. Discovering material shortages or unexpected price increases during pre construction allows for timely alternative options and gives the contractor sufficient time to secure financing and order the materials, preventing delays. Although it may seem insignificant, this phase has significant potential for time and cost savings. Careful planning for materials with long lead times can greatly impact the project schedule and budget, effectively.

●      Permits, Licenses & Inspections

Pre construction services are crucial for assessing and mitigating risks associated with the project. Understanding the legal and compliance requirements in the project’s jurisdiction is highly important and requires careful planning. Scheduling inspections and ensuring compliance with building codes are essential aspects of the pre construction phase. Municipalities have their own requirements for before construction inspections, which may include surveying the property’s condition, conducting environmental impact analyses, and inspecting building plans for safety and adherence to local ordinances.

Site evaluation plays a significant role in determining construction costs and schedules. Therefore, it is crucial to carefully evaluate location and site conditions early in the process.

Pre construction checklist

Some of the tasks you can expect to cover during the pre construction phase:

  • Pre construction meetings to discuss the project
  • Designing and planning the actual project
  • Developing the scope of the project
  • Preliminary budget and schedule: estimating total cost/time with suggestions of cost-saving and time-saving alternatives.
  • Identifying, avoiding, and preplanning for potential problems by outlining solutions
  • Site selection and feasibility
  • Environmental tests
  • Evaluating utilities
  • Determining tools, materials, and equipment required for the project
  • Outlining communication and contingencies for all parties

Read Also: The Complete Construction Material Checklist

Best 9-steps pre construction plan

Here are the 9 pre construction steps to align your project with sustainable construction goals:

1.    Define the scope

Develop a detailed plan and scope for the project. Break down complex tasks into smaller, manageable steps to create a clear roadmap for your project’s success.

2.    Set the schedule

In a project schedule, the stages are outlined. Project start and finish dates are defined, along with the hours each team will work. Assigning work and responsibilities to teams is also defined and outlined at this stage.

3.    Estimate the budget

A project’s pre construction planning should clarify the budget allocated for each stage, as well as cost estimates for materials, equipment, labor, contractors, vendors, licensing, and legal fees.

4.    Select the core team

It is time to pick the core team members and personnel and establish a responsibility matrix. A wide range of skilled workers is needed. To ensure fewer delays or redos, choose those who provide reliable work. Always remember: the success of a project relies heavily on the presence of strong leadership within the team.

5.    Decide on contractors

It is always a good idea to give advance notice to professional contractors and subcontractors required for the project and to check on their availability beforehand.

6.    Identify vendors

To make sure the project runs smoothly, assign vendors for food, restrooms, safety experts, and other essentials.

7.    Specify materials

Specify the quality and quantity of materials. The list may include lumber, concrete, steel, drywall, aggregate, scaffolding, and basically every material or equipment you need for the construction and completion of the project.

8.    Check legal and compliance requirements

You should know the legal and compliance requirements needed to complete the project in its city, county, and state jurisdiction are imperative.

9.    Establish a solid communication plan

Ensuring effective communication among all construction teams is vital in minimizing delays and cost overruns. By promoting transparent communication, you will guarantee a seamless construction project that is completed accurately, within the designated time frame, and within the allocated budget.

What to expect during pre construction

Securing a Project Manager

Securing a Project Manager through pre construction services is your first task towards a successful project execution. The Project Manager should possess expertise in management and leading, strong communication skills, the ability to identify whether a potential project is realistic and feasible and to develop effective strategies to address potential problems, if any.

Pms act as a central point of contact, fostering clear communication channels and facilitating seamless integration between the design, engineering, and construction teams. This cohesive approach ensures that the project progresses smoothly from inception to construction, minimizing delays and maximizing efficiency. If the project manager determines the project is feasible then the project can truly begin.

Planning a Strategic Development Plan

After reaching an agreement, the project manager and owner begin by creating a strategic development plan that outlines the project’s scope, budget, and estimated timeline, providing crucial information for decision-making and resource allocation.  This plan not only provides vital information but also serves as a reference for the construction team throughout the project.

By establishing this strategic plan at the project’s onset, every team member can refer back to it as a valuable point of reference throughout the project’s duration. By having a well-defined strategy for the pre construction phase plan, the construction team can refer to it consistently, ensuring alignment, minimizing deviations, and facilitating efficient project execution from start A to finish Z.

Planning a Strategic Design Plan

Remember the design plan we talked about in the checklist? Now it’s time for it. You need a schematic design that establishes the size and shape of the building – the floor plans and indoor elevations, maybe more in-depth sketches like finishes and systems such as both the electrical and mechanical systems, HVAC, and plumbing become part of the plans.

Translating an idea into a tangible project requires a significant leap forward by documenting it on paper. That’s when you should embark on a project design process. The architectural and engineering teams work hand in hand, alongside the owner, to develop a design that satisfies the owner’s preferences, adheres to safety and regulatory standards, and fulfills any agreed-upon sustainability or design requirements. Throughout the design journey, the project manager plays a crucial role in facilitating the smooth flow of information between the design and engineering teams. Both teams rely on specific details from one another to accomplish their respective tasks, often necessitating mutual reviews when changes occur.

Assigning a General Contractor/ Bidding

The selection of a general contractor, much like the rest of the construction team, should be approached diligently and with careful consideration. While sometimes the owner has a specific contractor in mind, the general contractor is typically chosen through a competitive bidding process.

During the bidding process, the project manager invites bids from interested contractors. These bids are then evaluated by both the project manager and the owner. In most cases, there is also an interview stage with the prospective general contractor to ensure suitability for the project. Once a suitable match is identified, the general contractor is engaged and responsible for organizing the necessary subcontractors and skilled labor needed to commence physical construction.

Procuring Materials

One of the final yet most important tasks that must be completed during the pre construction phase is material procurement. Procuring materials is the complex process of selecting and ordering all materials required to complete the project. The procurement stage must be approached carefully to ensure that all necessary materials have been ordered and staged appropriately to best facilitate the construction schedule and process.

While it may seem mundane, the process of choosing and ordering quality materials and equipment for your construction project is an art in itself. Done correctly, material procurement can help facilitate construction and improve efficiency, reducing wastage and costs. Done wrongly, the material procurement can introduce delays that impact project completion and wastage that impacts the overall project budget.

Read Also: Why Buy Construction Materials Online for Your Next Project?


How long does the pre construction phase take?

The duration of the pre construction phase depends on the project’s scope and the specifics outlined in your pre construction schedule. For straightforward projects, proficient teams can finalize pre construction within a few weeks. However, for more intricate projects, the pre construction phase may extend up to three months.

Regardless of the project’s complexity, it is crucial to allocate sufficient time to accomplish all the necessary pre construction tasks. Regardless of the duration, pre construction activities are valuable as they mitigate potential issues and ensure project success. Therefore, investing time in this phase is always worthwhile.

How much does the pre construction phase cost?

The expenses associated with pre construction services will vary based on factors such as the project’s scope, location, and other considerations. Typically, pre construction costs amount to approximately five percent of the total project cost.

It’s important to note that pre construction costs are distinct from the construction costs and are incurred before any construction bids are solicited. However, as mentioned earlier, the potential cost savings and assurance it offers make pre construction services a valuable investment.

What is the purpose of pre construction meetings?

A pre construction meeting presents an opportunity to effectively communicate the requirements and expectations of a construction project to the contractor in charge of its execution and completion. Pre construction meetings set the framework for kicking off the pre construction phase. Making yours dynamic, informative, and participatory help address numerous project-related matters.

Typically, the project manager is responsible for overseeing and organizing the pre construction meeting and should prepare a comprehensive agenda tailored to the specific project. Overall, your outcome is for the team members to know how and where they fit into the project. They should know more about the project through the eyes of the other participants and understand their responsibilities and rights within the contract framework. 

What is the Meaning of a pre construction Agreement/ pre construction Contract?

A pre construction agreement, also known as a pre construction contract, is a legal document that establishes the terms and conditions between a property owner and a contractor before the actual construction phase begins. It serves as a preliminary agreement that outlines the scope of work, responsibilities, and expectations of both parties involved in the construction project.

The purpose of a pre construction agreement is to set the groundwork for a successful construction project by clarifying various aspects before the actual construction work commences. It’s important to note that a pre construction agreement is typically followed by a more comprehensive construction contract, which is often based on the terms and conditions established in the pre construction phase. The purpose of the pre construction agreement is to provide a framework for further negotiations and discussions between the parties involved to finalize the details of the construction project.

Closing Thoughts

Pre construction Leads to Post-Construction Success

Construction can be very complex. What you do early in any construction project is going to have a huge impact on how the rest of the project goes. That means pre construction is arguably the most important step in any project.

During the pre construction phase, a strategic design and development plan must be created, a budget and timeline must be agreed upon, permitting is acquired, and procurement of both labor and resources occurs.

That puts pressure on, but if you take the right steps and remember to be thorough and detailed throughout, pre construction — and the rest of the project — should be a breeze.