If you are contemplating securing the services of a construction project manager, then you may have seen project closeout offered as a service. Most people outside of the construction industry understandably have little knowledge of what construction project closeout is or why it is important.
Construction project closeout is often overlooked as an essential component of the construction process. In many cases, the project closeout phase can make or break an otherwise successful construction project. In order to help project owners get a better sense of the importance of the post-construction phase of a project, this article will provide a broad overview of construction project closeout management. We’ll explore the project management closeout process and look at the role that a project manager has in navigating project closeout.
What is Construction Project Closeout?
Construction project closeout is the final phase of a construction project and a vital part of construction management services. This phase occurs after physical construction has been completed, but before the project is actually turned over to the owner. Construction project closeout is a complex process that requires taking a moment to consider construction projects in general.
Every construction project has a multitude of moving parts, and this is especially true during the physical construction stage. You’ll have equipment rentals, temporary utilities, subcontractors, waste management, material staging to coordinate along with all of the general contractor staff. One aspect of construction project closeout is making the job-site ready for the new owner to take over. This means ensuring that all work has been completed according to contractual obligations and that the quality of the work matches project requirements. Closing out a project also involves cleaning up the actual job site. Returning equipment, disposing of waste, and removing temporary buildings and infrastructure are all components of project closeout.
Project closeout also includes handing over relevant documentation to the owner. All documentation detailing each stage of the project, including what each entity involved in the project has completed and in some cases, their correspondence must be provided to the owner. All financial documentation for the project must also be organized and provided to the owner.
In summary, project closeout is the process of making a project ready to turn over to the client. This includes cleaning up any remnants leftover from construction, organizing documentation for the project and turning it over, and walking the owner through building operation and maintenance to ensure that the turnover goes smoothly. Any changes that need to be completed prior to the owner taking over must also be done during this time. This is referred to as a punch list or closeout punch list and requires coordination between the project manager, general contractor, and any required subcontractors.
Why Does Project Closeout Need to be Managed?
You might be wondering why project closeout needs to be managed. After all, many of the discrete tasks involved in project closeout are fairly straightforward. Everything from the cleanup of the job site to organizing and turning over documentation seems, from the outside, that it would be part of business as usual. The fact is, in order to ensure that a project is completed successfully the closeout process needs to be coordinated and managed.
The mistaken belief that this is an extra service stems partially from the idea that construction projects are one coherent entity from beginning to end. Rather, construction projects are completed by a variety of different entities that come together for that specific project and then disperse after. Each entity involved in a project has different responsibilities, which are usually focused on a specific area. Demobilizing these different stakeholders involved in the construction project while also ensuring that they have completed all appropriate tasks requires high-level, comprehensive coordination.
What are the Essential Components of Project Closeout?
We’ve provided a broad overview of project closeout and explained why it needs to be managed in order to result in a seamless turnover, but a breakdown of the components of project closeout sheds light on why the post-construction phase can make or break an otherwise successful project.
Once the physical construction of a project has been completed, the construction project manager and architect will do a walkthrough of the project and note any changes that need to be made. This is known as the punchlist and is an important component of the post-construction phase of a construction project. In some cases, the punchlist is considered a natural extension of physical construction, while in other cases it is considered a component of project closeout. Here, we’ll treat the punchlist as a part of closeout management.
Completion of the items on the punchlist requires coordination between the project manager, general contractor, and subcontractors in order to ensure that any changes are completed according to contractual requirements and within the project timeline and budget.
Once construction is completed, any required inspections will also need to be completed. The project manager will need to meet with the authorities inspecting the premises to ensure that the inspection goes smoothly and that any identified issues can quickly be addressed.
Ensuring the project site is ready for handover requires cleaning up any traces of the construction process. Site cleanup is itself a massive undertaking. In many cases, you have temporary buildings to breakdown and move, temporary utilities to remove, waste to remove, and rental equipment to return. Inadequate site cleanup results in a property that isn’t quite ready for turnover, and can introduce project delays at the last minute.
Document Collection and Handover
Document collection and handover is one of the most crucial components of construction project closeout management. Throughout the course of the project, your construction project management team will be generating a large amount of paperwork. This paperwork is important for record keeping purposes for the owner’s team members. Not only will this include paperwork from each of the entities involved in the project, including the design and engineering team, general contractor, and subcontractors, but it will also include financial documentation for the project. If there is ever a dispute down the road about a certain part of a project, having this documentation is essential.
Most people forget that a new building comes with all new equipment to operate. While you may have documentation for all machinery and systems included in the document handoff, you’ll want to be sure that your people can operate that equipment. Training on the equipment before you become operational is one of the best ways to ensure a smooth transition. An important component of project closeout management is making sure this training takes place. Usually, the construction project management team will coordinate with the owner and their staff to schedule a time where training can take place.
Potential Issues During Project Closeout
There are some common pitfalls that crop up during project closeout. These project closeout problems can introduce cost delays to a project that is considered otherwise successful. The end result is an unsatisfactory conclusion to a project.
Without comprehensive oversight of the project closeout process, you may run into problems getting items on your punchlist completed. Remember that a project punchlist is a list of things that need to be changed or completed before a project can be considered complete. The punchlist is created after physical construction is completed and is generated with the help of the architect that worked on the project. Any delays in completing these necessary changes can result in costly delays to the project completion timeline.
Incomplete Document Production
As the project owner, you’ll want all of the documentation relevant to the project in your hands at the time that the keys are handed over. There are a variety of reasons for wanting a comprehensive collection of project documentation. Not only is it necessary for accurate record-keeping, but you may need documentation for equipment maintenance and warranty services. You may also need documentation in the future if a portion of the construction doesn’t match up to the requirements outlined in the contract.
Not receiving all of the documentation for a project is a problem that may not be readily apparent at the time you take over a building. Too often, owners find out they don’t have a required piece of documentation months or even years after the project has been completed. By then, it can be difficult to track down the individual or organization that does have the documents you require. The potential complications stemming from this make it a necessity to receive all required documentation as part of the project closeout process and prior to taking ownership of the premises.
Communication is an essential component of any successful construction project. This is true throughout the project, including during project closeout. Communication becomes more challenging once each entity involved in a project begins to demobilize. Getting necessary documents from each entity becomes more difficult as time goes on and individuals and businesses involved in the project move on to other jobs. The slowing and eventual breakdown of communication between stakeholders in the project can introduce significant delays to each aspect of project closeout. Change orders on the punchlist may be delayed, and documents may not be produced.
How to Avoid Project Closeout Problems
The simplest way to avoid any problems associated with project closeout is to work with a construction project manager that provides a comprehensive project closeout management service. This service isn’t something you might prioritize during your search for a project management team, but you’ll thank yourself in the end if you work with a project manager that can help oversee the closeout process.
Effective project managers are adept at understanding what is required during the project closeout phase and anticipating any potential problems. Avoiding the potential problems we outlined above can be accomplished through effective planning and communication. Through document management efforts conducted throughout the life cycle of the project, construction management teams can ensure that all necessary documentation is flowing to them. Similarly, construction project managers that prioritize communication can ensure that information is flowing between stakeholders throughout the post-construction process.
Construction project closeout is a critical time in the life of a construction project. During construction project closeout, any final change orders are completed, the work site is cleaned up and prepared for occupancy, the owner’s staff is trained on all necessary equipment, all documentation related to the project is organized and turned over to the owner, and any necessary inspections are completed.
In order for construction project closeout to be as complete and seamless as possible, you’ll want to work with a construction management team that oversees this process. Through effective organization and oversight, many of the potential problems associated with project closeout can be avoided from the beginning. Although it isn’t often thought of as such, the post-construction phase can produce delays that impact the project completion timeline and budget. Additionally, if any required documentation isn’t produced during project closeout it can result in incomplete records down the road.
Managing the construction project closeout process requires open communication and effective planning. Working with a construction project management team that understands the importance of project closeout management can help avoid costly delays and ensure that your project is completed smoothly and seamlessly. For more information about project closeout management services, please contact Gilliland Construction Management today.