The 6 Essential Phases of the Construction Process

January 22, 2021
6 essential steps of the construction process

Construction Best Practices for General Contractors and Project Managers

When most people think of the construction process, they think of the actual act of construction itself. However, there's a lot more involved in it than that! With domestic construction spending for 2018 reaching $1.29 trillion, accounting for 7% of the U.S. GDP, and are expected to keep rising, understanding all of the essential phases of the construction process is vital for keeping up with new projects in your area and developing partnerships with other companies that will help your business grow. But what are the six construction process phases, and what happens during each one? Here's a quick overview to get you started.

What Are the 6 Essential Phases of the Construction Process?

1. Planning and Development

Sometimes referred to as project conception, this phase of the construction process happens when clients come up with the initial ideas of what the structure will look like, how it will function, and what it needs to accomplish. At this point, the client is imagining their vision, with a very fluid set of ideas that form the basis of the construction process. This stage may also include finding the property for the structure to be constructed on, the first few pre-design concepts, selecting an architect and, in some cases, choosing a general contractor.

2. Design and Engineering

During this phase of the construction process, the impossible or over-budget client vision intersects with the architect’s plans to determine what is possible. From there, a preliminary design and construction plans can be drawn up. This is the first time the client sees a physical representation of the structure. However, there are many issues to address, such as deciding to pursue green certifications. Once this information is assembled into a coherent package of documentation, it's time to start taking bids.

3. Preconstruction and Project Management Selection

Once the contractor is selected, the preconstruction phase begins, when the construction company plans its portion of the project. The general contractor assembles their project management team, including a contract administrator to ensure the superintendent and project manager understand the information, a project manager oversees the management team, a superintendent coordinates construction, schedules, and deliveries, and the field engineer who oversees inspections, safety, environmental issues, and historical site issues.

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4. Procurement of Materials and Other Items

Procurement includes purchasing materials, renting equipment and hiring labor needed for the entire project. This involves scheduling deliveries and determining work completion dates so the entire worksite doesn't become a tangled mess of materials and tasks are being completed quickly. At this stage, the superintendent is working overtime, trying to keep everything running smoothly.

5. Construction Phase

The construction phase is the part of the project that most people consider to be "construction" when the word is mentioned. Grading, concrete pours, framing, welding, paneling, roofing, and all of the other aspects of construction all come into play during this phase, and it is at this point that the project moves from digital concept to physical reality. However, this phase is also the most stressful time for the superintendent, who needs to make sure the right materials and contractors are in the right place at the right time so that the project continues moving forward smoothly.

6. Post-Construction Inspection and Punch List

Once everything is built, the construction process still isn't complete. The client will need to visit the site to see the final structure and then prepare a final checklist, typically called a punch list. The punch list will need to be approved prior to the client occupying the building and then the architect will need to issue a certificate of substantial completion. Once this process is finished, the building inspectors will carefully check that everything in the building's structure and systems meets codes. Only at this point is the construction process truly complete.

Being aware of the essential phases of the construction process not only allows you to better appreciate the labor that goes into a project, but also ensures the projects you complete will be developed in accordance with best practices and completed on time and under budget. 

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