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By Jenna Guy Tuesday, September 15, 2020
Today we’re starting with the basics: what is construction project management (CPM)? Simply put, construction project management is the planning, coordination, and execution of a construction project, from residential and commercial to industry, civil, and environmental. Planning, coordination, and execution refer to all the estimating, budgeting, scheduling, communication, and actual building that are required to get a project from start to finish.
CPM applies to all types of construction, though it’s most often referenced on larger building projects. That doesn’t make it any less valuable for custom home builders and remodelers. What construction project management really boils down to is organization, regardless of whether you’re building high-rises, major infrastructure projects, or custom homes. Organization is critical for builders of all types and sizes. That said, if you’re a custom builder or remodeler, your margins might be even tighter than larger builders, making it even more important that you stay on top of projects.
In this post, we’ll be looking at why construction management is a game-changer for custom builders and remodelers, and how you can add structure and organization to your projects.
Effective construction project management has significant benefits for builders. It increases the likelihood you’ll finish projects on time, under budget, and without legal problems. The latter is a benefit that many builders don’t think about, but it’s an important one to keep in mind because the construction industry can be extremely litigious.
CPM mitigates a lot of risk that builders take on, whether it’s financial or legal. Custom building and remodeling projects are involved and have a lot of moving parts. With project management processes and technology in place, you have what you need to streamline the planning, designing, and construction process.
With proper project management, you increase efficiency, improve communication, and gain visibility across your business. From schedules to budgets and everything in between, you know what’s going on with each of your projects.
The 4 Stages of Construction Projects
As you know, there are a lot of individual steps required to get a project across the finish line. You have to work on a concept with your clients, send out bids to put together a budget, build a schedule that details how long every stage of the building process will take, work on selections, manage change orders, send purchase orders, and deal with small adjustments throughout.
This means there could be hundreds and hundreds of individual line items to check off during a project, which can easily become overwhelming. A key part of CPM is grouping individual tasks into essential phases. Each phase provides an outline for defined tasks and objectives, so you have a high-level framework for your project.
There’s no one right answer for how many stages there are for construction projects. Depending on who you ask, there can be as few as three and as many as nineteen. For the purposes of this post, we’ll keep it simple by looking at four essential phases: planning, pre-construction, construction, and post-construction.
1. The Planning Stage
The planning stage begins with your client. They come to you to build their dream home and you start by helping them develop a concept. What are they looking for? What timeline are you working with? What are their budget expectations?
Once you have an idea of what your client is working with, you can develop concept art and rough specifications to begin building on. In this stage, you’ll be working with designers and architects to scope out a plan. The key is to align initial designs with your clients’ expectations and budget to ensure the project is feasible for you both.
Uploading drawings, specs, and redlining to arrive at a working plan is something a construction project management tool like BuildTools can help you do. You and your designers and architects have access to the most up-to-date files and can easily collaborate to develop a plan that will function as the foundation of your project.
2. The Pre-Construction Stage
The pre-construction stage is where you begin to get more heavily involved. You’ve signed a contract with a client and have plan for the build. Now you need to get building permits, send out bid packages to subcontractors, build a budget and a schedule, and all the pre-work that goes into a project before you can break ground on a new build or begin demoing for a renovation.
This stage involves a lot of moving parts. You need to work closely with your project manager, your crew, and your subcontractors to ensure everyone is on the same page. This means clearly communicating what is expected of everyone, including a description of the work to be done and when it should be completed by. Another important point to be clear on: when and how much contractors will be paid.
All of these aspects of the pre-construction process can be managed with a construction project management solution. Every piece of information you enter moves you on to the next step in the building process. Once you’ve selected your bid, the proposal information can be used to populate your budget. Once you build your schedule, you can make adjustments and notify affected trades with a single click.
3. The Construction Stage
The construction stage begins once you have your working budget and schedule, and you’ve lined up your subcontractors. Your project manager will be the key to overseeing work at the job site and ensuring everything is going smoothly. Are you on track to complete work as scheduled? Are there any hiccups that need to be addressed?
Your project manager is also responsible for communicating changes and updates to clients. The construction stage can be chaotic if you’re not organized, which is where technology comes in. Construction management software simplifies the back-and-forth communication required to keep a project moving. Poor planning or execution can easily derail a project. If you project manager can easily get clarification, adjust schedules, document changes so everyone has access to the latest files, you can avoid costly mistakes and make the building experience a positive one for your crew, subs, and clients.
4. The Post-Construction Stage
The final stage of the building process is the post-construction stage. Your job isn’t done when the last touches are put on your custom home or remodeling project. The post-construction stage is where you wrap everything up, from inspections to owner occupancy and outstanding service tasks or warranty requests.
The good news is that a construction project management app can help bring you over the finish line. Providing your clients with a positive closing experience is key considering the majority of leads in the custom building industry come from client referrals and reviews. With an industry-related tool, you can let clients request service work and share photos, manage and document post-construction work orders, and notify subcontractors when work needs to be done.
Having CPM processes and tools in place to organize your projects can help you control costs, avoid mistakes, and increase profitability. But it’s important to have the right technology in place. Learn more about finding the right construction management software for your business with our free buyer’s guide.
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About the Author
Jenna Guy is the Demand Generation Manager for the Residential Home Construction division of ECI, responsible for planning, organizing, and activating marketing programs for lead generation. A digital marketer with experience in content creation and inbound marketing, Jenna began her career in marketing after completing her Master’s degree in English Literature.
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