Anytime you start a project, it’s important to have a plan in place to accomplish it.
Whether it’s new construction, renovation, restoration, or rebuilding, a well developed construction project plan, also known as a construction management plan (CMP) is essential for successful completion on schedule and within budget.
Summit Reconstruction and Restoration contractors and crews have successfully completed a number of projects and have experience with project planning and management for a variety of construction projects. Continue reading to find out what makes a good construction project plan, and check out our projects to see the results of good construction project planning.
What is a construction project plan?
Construction planning is the process of figuring out the most efficient and cost-effective method of arriving at a satisfactory construction project. The construction project plan is a roadmap that guides the project from conception to completion.
The project planner, usually a construction project manager, also called a CM, assesses all of the materials and labor required to complete a construction project and schedules those tasks in a way that improves the efficiency of the project as a whole. The goals of a construction plan usually include:
- A definition of the work tasks of each entity involved in the project.
- To clarify the relationship between different work tasks and the individual entities that are performing those tasks.
- Make decisions about which technologies will be used to bring about the successful completion of the project.
- Provide a comprehensive assessment of all resources required to complete a project.
- Use the plan to arrive at a timeline and budget for the project.
What makes a good construction plan?
Good construction plans are comprehensive and accurately assess the costs and needs of a given project. An accurate and strategic plan can define what work needs to be done and in what order for reference of pending work tasks, and enable the delegation of those operation and maintenance tasks.
Important aspects that should be included in the plan are:
Define All Work Tasks
Break those tasks into sub-tasks, continuing as needed to have a granular view of all work required to complete the project. This includes the work for all teams on the project, from design and engineering team members, to the general contractor and subcontractors.
Determine the Work Sequence & Duration
The work sequence defines the order in which work occurs. If work is done incorrectly it can result in project delays and wasted hours of labor. The project manager must estimate the duration that each task will take to complete.
This is important for both determining a budget after the strategic plan is in place, and ensuring that the sequencing of all work tasks makes sense. Some tasks may be allowed to overlap, other tasks must be completed sequentially. An accurate duration assessment will result in more efficiency overall.
Accurately assessing the resources required for a task will result in a more accurate budget and ensure that the right amount of each resource is ordered and that other considerations, such as storage of that resource until it is ready to be used, has been accounted for.
Why You Need a Construction Plan
Construction plans help you justify project feasibility and help you develop schedules and goals accordingly. Commonly, they can help bridge the communication gap between cross-disciplinary teams whose input is critical before starting a project.
As fluid projects, the strategic aspects of a project can change as the circumstances of the project change. Throughout the course of construction, the original plan may be disrupted or need to be altered to accommodate changes in weather conditions, materials, work crew, or technical difficulties as they arise.
Construction plans can help the construction manager and other stakeholders refer back to their original plan to ensure that the project is moving forward smoothly. These plans maintain project commitment levels by holding people accountable, ensuring that work is completed on schedule, and within budget.
Creating a Construction Project Plan
There are three approaches to a good construction project plan:
- Strategic plan: This is the high level overview of all project objectives. Here, you’ll outline the work, and what the overall project goals are.
- Operational plan: This is the nitty-gritty that gets into how each part of the project will be solved.
- Schedule: This puts operational plans on a time scale, with milestones and benchmarks for project completion.
The Stages of Construction Project Management
Design & Initiation
At the beginning of the project, carry out a high level of risk analysis during the initiation phase. Identifying key risks at the beginning of the project will help your team prepare for anything that may occur. There are four parts to designing a construction project.
What are the needs, goals and objectives of the project? You’ll be making decisions based on the size of the project, the site allocated for the build and the actual design of what your building. This consists of a list for each room or space under consideration, including all critical data.
The Schematic Design
This is a sketch that identifies all the various parts, materials, sizes, colors, textures, etc. It includes the floorplan, elevations, etc., even a site plan.
This requires research. You’ll be refining the original drawings from the previous stage now to reflect these decisions. Knowing local building codes and adhering to them will be important at this stage.
- What are the materials to use?
- What equipment will be needed?
- How much are the materials?
Get the contract documents together. These are the final drawing and construction specs. These will be used by outside contractors to bid on the job.
Preconstruction & Planning
From here, it’s time to start assigning roles and plans to make the project successful. Define teams, and make sure that those teams have the skills and certifications required to complete a task. If you have parts of a team that aren’t trained, make sure to get everyone trained up.
Investigate the site and check to see if anything is needed. The site must be ready for the construction, which might mean dealing with environmental issues, such as the suitability of the soil for construction.
At this step, fundamental guidelines should be established, including scope, cost and schedule, and then fine-tuned. Risk is defined and possible solutions mapped out according to a number of scenarios. There should be a clear understanding of who is responsible for what.
You have people and you’ve planned for the construction and materials necessary to complete it, now you must obtain those materials and equipment. This might be the responsibility of the general contractor or subcontractors, depending on the organization of the business doing the construction.
This is the stage you’ll be working with purchase orders, which are used as an agreement between the buyer and the seller, as well as requests for proposals (bidding/tendering) from architects and engineers to contractors. Every viable proposal is examined in the light of the owner’s priorities and the contractors’ ability to follow through. This can include general contractors, specialty contractors, specialized equipment, furnishings and landscapers, and more.
Execution & Construction
Finally, you’re ready for the build! But first you have a preconstruction meeting to deal with work hours, the storage of materials, quality control and site access.
During this time, things will inevitably change or go wrong. Ensure that your team is communicating and staying flexible. Good project managers know how to adapt to and solve problems. Go into the project knowing that some things will not go according to plan.
Delivery & Close
This is the ending portion of the project. Consolidate a list of anything left incomplete and assign a team member to complete these items.
Ultimately, the satisfaction of the owner determines the overall success of the project. The last part of the project is after the construction is complete and the occupants move into or take ownership of the site. You must make sure all their requirements have been met, and usually provide a warranty period to make that arrangement official and binding.
Components of a Project Plan
A good project plan starts with baselines. You create a project baseline, followed by a baseline management plan, and a business plan. Along the way, you need reams and reams of documentation. We’ll explain.
Baselines (Performance Measures)
This is the construction project’s approved starting points (cost, scope, and schedule) that determine if the project is on track. A PMB allows you to efficiently monitor and manage how a change in one component affects the others. Using baselines make it easier to accurately estimate costs, assess performance, and calculate earned value.
Baseline Management Plan
Projects deviate from course, and baseline management plans include the documentation on how the baselines vary and how to handle them. With additional planning, management will determine the acts that the team will do when variances to the baseline arise.
The two sectors of construction are commercial and residential. If the construction project is a commercial one, the project plan should include a business plan.
The business plan explains the “why’s” of the project:
- Business Benefits: what is the return on investment (ROI) of the project?
- Planning Permission: The plan for approval and adherence to building and municipal codes.
- Project Description: An outline of what the project is and how you’re planning to execute it.
- Project Management and Team: Who is leading the project and who will make up the teams executing the plan.
- Project Design: The plans, blueprints and other drawings detailing the build.
- Bid and Contract: There are a couple of different bidding methods, which should be detailed here, also the details of the contract.
- Construction Process: Identifying activities and resources required to make the design a physical reality.
- Occupation and Defects Liability Period: This helps outline the process the client takes once possessing the development to occupy it.
- Evaluation After Occupation: This is like a post-mortem to note what worked and didn’t over the course of the project. Project managers look at the stated goal of the project and then figure out what it will take to get there.
Documents in a Construction Project Plan
These are the documents and drawings that are important and advantageous to have in the planning stage because they provide a representation of what’s going to be constructed.
Scope documentation is the overall needs of the project, and is usually a list of goals, deliverables, features, functions, tasks, deadlines, and costs. It will also detail the benefits among the milestones you’ll track to reach them.
Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
This document visualizes the key project deliverables and organizes the work a team will do when the project is started into manageable sections. Think of it as a “hierarchical decomposition of the work to be executed by the project team,” as defined by the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK).
To effectively implement various aspects of your project plan, you must articulate them clearly and deliver them efficiently. You need to define your goals and objectives, then decide on what tools and methods you’ll use to deliver them. Make sure every interaction is documented to keep your teams regularly informed. Reporting mechanisms must be transparent in recording hours, communication strategies, contributions, conflicts, and reconciliations.
Risk Management Plan
You’re going to have to provide safety management, which will include a thorough assessment of what might go wrong and how you resolve it. These risks aren’t only physical or life-threatening, they also include time and cost estimates and other more mundane aspects of the project.
This document analyses the impact of the project on a number of factors including stakeholder approval, environmental and social impact, probability of hazards and the extent of profitability posed to clients, teams and your firm. Look at the goals, cost and timeline to see if you have resources to reach a successful project end within those constraints
Building Site Specific Plan
Depending on the size and nature of a building project, including demolition and excavation, the local municipality may require another construction management plan to be drawn up for approval. Items covered often include:
- Public safety and site security
- Operating hours
- Controls to limit noise and vibration
- Proper management of air, dust, stormwater, and sediment
- Waste and materials reuse
- Traffic management.
This kind of CMP also typically requires submission in advance with a pre-defined period for approval.
Some other examples of construction planning documents that may be included in the project plan, depending on the project, are Blueprint drawings and specifications, submittals and approvals, permits, fees, and licenses.
Personnel, Roles, & Responsibilities
There are a number of tasks and responsibilities throughout the process of construction project planning and execution, and it’s important to define who will be responsible for which tasks. The typical breakdown of roles and responsibilities includes the project manager and their support team.
Support team positions may include:
- Contract administrators to help the project manager with managing contracts and procurement.
- Superintendents are on site to keep construction activities on schedule in terms of the materials, deliveries and equipment.
- Field engineers are positions that deal with paperwork and day to day operations.
The Construction Project Manager
Construction project management is run by a construction project manager. This person is tasked with the planning, coordination, budgeting and supervision of the construction project. Construction project manager responsible for the following tasks:
- Formulate budget, and estimate and negotiate project costs
- Create schedule and work timetables, workload management and resource allocation
- Determine which methods and strategies are appropriate for the project
- Communicate with clients and stakeholders, detailing the cost, scope, duration, quality and communications used in the project
- Lead or interface with workers, teams and other construction professions on technical and contract details
- Clearly communicate the plan, so everyone is on the same page and understands what needs to be done over the life cycle of the project.
- Work with building, construction and regulatory specialists
- Track project performance and monitor progress with key performance indicators for cost, time and quality.
- Identify potential issues and risks
- Outline the tasks within the timeline, noting project milestones, and the resources needed to do those tasks within the budget allotted.
- Look at the goals, cost and timeline to see if you have resources to reach a successful project end within those constraints.
- Define the reasoning behind the project and make sure it’s sound.
- Create project charter to help initiate the project
- Make sure design meets with building codes and other regulations.
Tips for Construction Project Planning
In addition to being strategic about resources, operations, and scheduling, there are some aspects to consider when creating and implementing the project plan.
Anticipating costs is important to keep in mind when forming a project plan, because construction can come with a certain level of uncertainty, which includes discovering additional, unforseen costs as the project progresses. You should try to budget and estimate costs as accurately as possible to reduce overhang that could have been spent elsewhere, while also leaving a little bit of slack for overtures or surprise expenses.
Usual areas where expenditures can go beyond the budget are payroll, project budgets, safety equipment costs, material supply, and machinery. The best way to prepare for this is by doing thorough research to reduce the occurrences of unforeseen costs, and be plan strategically to be able to address them with as little disruption to the rest of the project as possible.
Include Quality Control of Materials & Output
The client and stakeholders have to specify the quality of the construction project in terms of material, budget and actual output. Performance of different teams should also be included in the plan.
For example, an overview of the civil engineering project management plan will be a part of the CPMP. Accordingly, efforts can be assigned to different components forming the core of the labor. With monetary and personal investments in play here, quality assurance audits need to be conducted before signing them off.
Hold a Kickoff Meeting
A kickoff meeting is a practical step to bring stakeholders together to go over the project in depth and trust is built among team members because everyone’s input is on the table. Topics to discuss in a kickoff meeting are:
- Ground rules
- Roles and responsibilities
- Project sponsor
- Defined business exports
- Project manager
- Project team
- End users
- Team commitments
- How to make decisions
Project Management Tools
Many project management and construction software tools exist to help automate and accelerate the production of a CMP. Programs that run on workstations in the contractor’s offices or that are accessible online as a cloud computing service offer streamlining of:
- Construction activity project management
- CAD (computer-aided design) for preparing 2D or 3D project drawings
- Construction estimating for costing projects
- Construction accounting
As projects grow in complexity, both clients and contractors may use these kinds of software and exchange data and files between one another. BIM (building information modeling) software can federate all the different information effectively to make an even more extensive CMP. The CM’s preferred construction management software is used to pull it all together and estimate time, risk and cost of permits, contractors, insurance, labor, materials and so on, down to the last coat of paint.
Consider using a cloud-based construction software to ensure that the project is on track and collaboration is available at every aspect of the project’s life cycle. Project management software is beneficial because it keeps the whole team on the same page.
Examples of CMP tools include:
Construction project plans commonly use Gantt charts for project scheduling. There are a number of tools and softwares for creating Gantt charts, and similar construction schedule templates and project management plan templates using Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. Other programs are specifically created for construction project planning.
Example Construction Plan and Template
Every project is a little different so every plan will be a little different, but generally they will outline tasks, subtasks, and the timeline in which they must be completed. Below is an example of common tasks included in construction projects.
- Receive notice to proceed and sign contract
- Submit bond and insurance documents
- Prepare and submit project schedule
- Prepare and submit schedule of values
- Obtain building permits
- Submit preliminary shop drawings
- Submit monthly requests for payment
- Site Grading and Utilities
- Clear and grub site
- Install underground utilities
- Install temporary power service
- Install exterior fire line and building fire riser
- Erect building batter boards and layout building
- Excavate foundations
- Excavate elevator pit
- Form column piers and spread foundations
- Rough-in electric and plumbing in elevator
- Form elevator pit walls
- Pour column piers, foundations and walls
- Strip forms
- Install pneumatic tube in elevator pit
- Prepare and pour concrete floor in elevator pit
- Steel erection
- Erect steel columns, beams and joist – 1st and 2nd floors
- Erect steel columns, beams and joist – 3rd floor and roof
- Install miscellaneous iron and bracing – 1st and 2nd floors
- Install miscellaneous iron and bracing – 3rd floor and roof
- Install stairs and miscellaneous iron railing
- Touch-up paint on steel
Form and Pour Concrete – Floors and Roof
- Install rebar and in-floor utilities (including mechanical, electrical, plumbing)
- Pour separate floors
- Cure separate floors
- Strip forms
- Form roof slab including all floor openings
- Install electrical underground
- Install plumbing underground
- Install rebar and in-floor utilities
- Rough-in plumbing at toilets and masonry walls
- Lay masonry at core, mechanical, and toilets
- Install exterior masonry work
- Install roof drains
- Install tile in toilet rooms
- Install flashing at parapet walls
- Pour lightweight concrete roof fill
- Install seamless roofing material
- Spread stone ballast on seamless roof
- Set rooftop equipment
- Install millwork and wood trim
- Paint walls and woodwork
- Install conduit at ceiling plenum space
- Install duct in ceiling plenum space
- Install ceiling grid
- Install ceiling tile
- Hang wallpaper
- Install building carpet
- Install hardware and accessories
- Complete interior and exterior sod and plantings
- Pave, curb, and stripe parking lot
- Rough-in plumbing in drywall walls
- Tie-in fire line riser and set valves
- Set plumbing fixtures and trim
- Flush, test, and clean piping and fixtures
- Rough-in electrical in masonry walls
- Rough-in electrical in drywall walls
- Pull wire in conduit and set area transformers
- Install and terminate electrical devices
- Make electrical terminations for HVAC equipment
- Heating and Ventilating – AC
- Set equipment in mechanical room
- Rough-in mechanical in masonry walls
- Rough-in mechanical in drywall walls
- Install duct in building chase
- Install light fixtures – test and clean
Complete Final Inspections
- Complete elevator inspection and certification
- Perform architect’s inspection
- Perform local building agency inspection
- Perform Fire Marshal’s inspection
- Final Clean-up and Occupancy
- Install hard tile flooring in common areas
- Clean hard tile floors
- Remove debris from building and do final clean-up
- Substantial completion date
- Complete punch list items from all inspection