What is the Pre-Construction Process?

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What is the Pre-Construction Process?

If you need a new commercial space for your business, you might be considering building, rather than buying or leasing an existing property. Many business owners turn to construction to meet the unique needs of their manufacturing, storage, or general operations. While the idea of a new build might sound intimidating at first, there are often clear advantages for your business. As you consider a commercial build, it’s important to become familiar with the three stages of construction—the pre-construction process, construction, and post-construction.    

Each stage has distinct timelines and requirements. Here, we’ll focus on the pre-construction process, to help you gain a clear understanding of what to expect before the digging begins. This phase is critical to the success of any project. It ensures you are on the same page as your builder and allows you to see the project at a higher level. It also flags any hurdles or risks so you can plan, as needed. 

Here are some key elements of the pre-construction process:

Meet with Your Builder

The first step in the pre-construction process is to meet your builder. A kick-off meeting with a pre-construction manager and key members of both teams marks the start of a new relationship and helps to set your project in motion.

While your builder will gain a better idea of your goals, budget, and timeline, you’ll have the chance to explore your ideas at a high level. A reputable builder will have experience with a wide range of projects and will bring plenty of technical and industry knowledge to the table. 

Depending on your builder, this kick-off meeting can include only a pre-construction manager or several members of their team. As you plan for this meeting, think about who you would like to bring from your team, and prepare any questions ahead of time.

In short, this meeting offers a chance to initiate an important relationship and understand the potential scope and timeline of your project. 

Your Project is Clearly Defined

Once a pre-construction manager has had the chance to understand the vision you have for your project, they’ll get to work defining its scope, schedule, and boundaries.

Where possible, it’s important to work with a builder who can also help with design recommendations and who has relationships with architectural firms. This can eliminate costly delays of having design work done by an external team first, which may later need to be changed or reworked by your build team. By working with a build-design team, you’ll all be on the same page from the outset. 

Do you plan to build a two-story office space with plenty of oversized meeting rooms to host clients? Do you need a large-scale manufacturing site with enough power to run multiple assembly lines? Are you building a new school that needs to be up and running by a specific date?

A strong project definition – including general building design – is a critical part of the pre-construction process. It will take several things into account, including your property location, the scope of your project, as well as your budget and timeline. It will estimate what is possible, when it will happen, and how much it will cost. 

You’ll Assemble the Right Team

While most of the work of the pre-construction process will fall to your builder, this is an important time for you, as the client, to assemble the right team for this project. To keep things running efficiently, you’ll want to bring several stakeholders into the loop. 

In addition to the project manager you assign to this build, you’ll want business decision-makers and either in-house or hired legal, real estate, architectural, and/or insurance expertise. You’ll also want your financing partners involved if you are using external funding. 

By assembling your team, you’ll have key stakeholders up to speed with the project as it moves forward. Your legal team can review potential issues and help determine which team members will act in a fiduciary role. 

Keeping your team up to speed from the early stages will help to avoid pitfalls, delays, and costly errors. Having the right people on board is a critical step within the pre-construction process. 

Site Evaluation

Property evaluation is an important part of the pre-construction process. If you’ve selected a site for your project, your builder must assess the land. Not only will they need to explore its physical condition and soil composition, but they’ll also want to understand its zoning requirements and any permissions that may be necessary for building. 

Depending on the condition of the property, your timeline and budget could be impacted. Is the ground clear and ready for digging? Will new underground utilities need to be installed on the site? Does soil testing reveal an unforeseen issue?  

Your builder can help to identify variables like these through the pre-construction process. While a site evaluation may be brief, without revealing any surprises, it could reveal issues that impact your schedule, budget, and timing. Either way, it is an important part of the pre-building phase. 

Paperwork is Set in Motion

Finally, a critical part of the pre-construction process is the formalization of the project through important paperwork. Your builder will present you with a pre-development agreement and a construction design-build agreement, which will authorize the builder to complete the building on the owner’s behalf. This document identifies the scope of the project, itemizing design work, materials to be used, finishes, and other specifications. 

This agreement outlines an overall budget and timeline, along with caveats and exceptions, which both parties need to agree to before construction can begin. 

With an agreement in place, the builder will file additional paperwork to keep the project running smoothly, including securing building permits and submitting plans to the local municipality. 

Find a Team You Trust

As you can see, the pre-construction process is critical to the success of a building project. Not only does it help you assemble your own team in-house, but it also helps to make sure you are on the same page as your builder. With shared objectives and a clear plan, you will know what to expect and how long the project will take. Together, you can identify risks and build contingency plans. 

Of course, one of the most important steps in a successful project is finding the right builder for the job. Look for builders with extensive experience, a strong reputation, and excellent client reviews. Ask potential builders about similar projects they’ve worked through, how they’ve handled challenges, and whether they’ve done work in a similar industry to yours. Ideally, you’ll find a builder with in-house design expertise, to make the design-build process as efficient as possible.

At J.B. Donaldson, we are a premium design-build contractor with over 20 years of experience in a wide range of industries. With extensive in-house expertise, we collaborate with our clients, helping you navigate every aspect of your project, starting with the pre-construction process. 

We value quality, consistency, and predictability – allowing you to count on schedules, costs, and project integrity. Our commitment to excellence allows us to provide creative designs, practical solutions, and innovative ideas while keeping your goals and objectives as top priorities.

Contact us to learn more if you need commercial development services: (248) 344 9045, info@jbdonaldson.com, or visit our website at https://jbdonaldson.com

37610 Hills Tech Dr., Farmington Hills, MI 48331, US

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J.B. Donaldson

A Premium Commercial Development & Construction Company.
37610 Hills Tech Drive, Farmington Hills, MI 48331

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