With preconstruction being the foundation of a construction project’s success, properly executing meetings to prepare for building is crucial. Without meetings for decision-making and conflict resolution, projects are much more likely to encounter difficulties mid-way.
In other words, preconstruction meetings are key to project success, and thus, it’s important to carry them out accordingly. Having an agenda and asking the right questions are a part of this. Agenda items should be centered around crucial project elements like schedules, blueprints, estimates, and so on.
Here’s what you need to know about meetings for preconstruction.
What is a preconstruction meeting?
Meetings for preconstruction are meetings in which key project stakeholders gather to work out details for how a construction project will be planned and built. This can involve deciding on design elements, identifying and preventing potential issues, designating obligations and worker responsibilities, establishing channels for communication, and more.
Stakeholders involved in preconstruction meetings
Clients (or owner representatives) and project managers should generally always be present for any meetings for preconstruction. Project managers are, after all, responsible for coordinating attendants and preparing the actual meeting agenda. They’re also the ones who will be leading the meeting.
Meeting attendants should include relevant project personnel, whether that’s members of office teams or on-site workers, as well as any consultants or external contractors as required.
The importance of preconstruction meetings
Meetings for preconstruction are important because they allow time to clarify project specifications and address potential construction issues before they become bigger problems. Signs of project failure can manifest even before construction begins, so meetings are the perfect time to get everything in order. This, in turn, can prevent delays and cost overruns.
Here are ways that meetings for preconstruction can be helpful.
Allows stakeholder input for questions, concerns, and changes
Meetings allow stakeholders the opportunity to ask questions, raise concerns, and propose changes. Before the construction begins, it’s important to discuss things like site conditions and the project’s scope of work to ensure that everything is clear and that everyone is on the same page, as once a plan is implemented, it can be inconvenient (and costly) to make changes.
A meeting is the perfect place and time to clarify project specifics and go over matters that may be of concern.
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Gives time to designate responsibilities
Preconstruction meetings allow for time to assign responsibilities accordingly and clear up obligations for each stakeholder involved in the project. During the meeting, you can ensure that everyone knows the exact role they play in the project and address team member questions promptly and effectively.
Coordinates communication and prevents mistakes
Meetings for preconstruction prevent misunderstandings from forming and festering. Miscommunications can lead to error, which results in the need for expensive reworks.
During meetings, you can coordinate how communication will be carried out and what the project’s chain of command will look like—i.e., what channels will be used to exchange information, who to report to regarding each segment of the project, and so on.
Creating a preconstruction meeting agenda
To properly carry out a meeting, it’s suggested to have an agenda outlining outstanding items to discuss. An agenda can function as a guide to map out the meeting, which will ensure that it remains on track and will prevent topic deviations that eat up precious time.
The agenda can be sent beforehand to team members to give them time to look it over. This lets all parties know what they can expect from the meeting, and will allow team members to make any necessary plans prior to it. Stakeholders can prepare questions to ask in advance and will be more ready to talk about any relevant responsibilities.
When everyone comes prepared, the meeting is much more likely to be effective. Transparency is a key factor in ensuring that everything is properly addressed.
What preconstruction meeting agendas should include
An agenda for a preconstruction meeting needs to be informative enough to benefit stakeholders and ensure that the meeting goes as planned. Since needs tend to differ from project to project, the most important topics to discuss may vary, but a standardized meeting agenda should include subject matter revolving around:
- Key project milestones
- The construction project’s schedule
- Site conditions
- Contracts to be reviewed
- Payment schedules
- Plans for communication
- Responsibility and leadership designation
Conducting preconstruction meetings
To make the best use of the agenda, you can follow these steps to effectively conduct a preconstruction meeting.
1. Go over agenda items, reviewing relevant documents
First, address the most important issues at hand in accordance with the meeting agenda. This may include looking over documentation, prioritizing ones that must be signed off or finalized. Documentation should always be readily available to pull up during the meeting to review and reference.
Some important documents may include:
- Blueprints or drawings
- Building plans
- Cost estimates
- Safety plans
2. Finalize decision-making on designs
Preconstruction meetings provide the time for crucial decision-making. The building’s design is of particular relevance, and time should be allotted to review and finalize it.
During the meeting, it may help to go through each room or area in the building with the client to confirm that they’d like to proceed with the design. This will reduce the likelihood of the client asking for changes at the very last minute, which can result in delays and cost overruns.
During this time, visual aids like videos (in addition to diagrams and drawings) may be useful. Visualizing the potential final product not only provides supplementary information, but can help generate more specific questions and concerns to go over.
Having a centralized document that everyone can view or a whiteboard during the meeting can provide the structure needed to keep up with the discussion. Make sure to highlight key deadlines and create lists to make information more easily digestible.
3. Confirm everyone understands their responsibilities
After going through any necessary documents and finalizing the design, take the time to make sure that every stakeholder knows what role they’ll play within the project and what their obligations will be to ensure the project is carried through to completion.
The meeting is also the perfect time to review expected timelines for work and arrange payment schedules.
4. Ask if anyone has any questions to address
Once all meeting items are addressed, you can open the floor up to participants to ask any additional questions they may have thought about while other items were being discussed.
Some common preconstruction meeting questions that people ask include:
- What project goals should be prioritized?
- How will this affect the project’s budget?
- What kind of changes need to be made to the design to accommodate what the client wants?
- What kind of materials or finishes are ideal based on the project’s design?
- Who is the main contact for this aspect of the project?
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Preconstruction meetings are vital for verifying how a construction project will be executed. From design finalization to labor organization, these meetings lay the foundation for a project’s success. Having an agenda and asking the right questions are key components of these meetings.
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