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How to Effectively Plan Your Construction Project Timeline

It’s common for people outside the construction industry to see a building being constructed and not understand how much planning goes into that project before the first shovel breaks the ground.

The construction of a building is just one phase (of many) that make up a construction project timeline. In fact, the phases leading up to construction are, in many ways, just as crucial as the construction itself.

Creating and utilizing a strong yet flexible construction project timeline before breaking ground can help your team be prepared for all phases in your construction project. Below, we define what a construction project timeline is, what it should include, and tips on how to plan an effective timeline for a successful project delivery. Keep reading to learn more!

What Is a Construction Project Timeline?

A construction project timeline is a chronological order of construction events from design concept to project closeout. This timeline is broken down into phases, each phase acting as a milestone for the project as a whole and as a predecessor for the next chronological task to move forward.

Depending on the desired project schedule, the individual phases can lag or overlap the predecessor phases to speed up the construction project timeline. However, expediting a project timeline out of chronological order can increase risks to the project that may result in additional costs or schedule delays, making it important for the contractor and owner to understand and collaborate on all facets of the construction project timeline.

What Should Be Included in a Construction Project Timeline?

A construction project timeline should typically include 10 phases. Each phase should have its own timeline that varies based on different factors such as project size, complexity, location, approval processes, and revisions needed for each phase.

These individual phase timelines are typically estimated during the “owner project requirements” and “design development” stages of the construction project and can be further defined as the project progresses.

Below, we list and provide an overview of the 10 phases of a construction project timeline, giving you a detailed insight into the critical elements needed to plan a successful construction project.

  1. Owner project requirements and design development The project owner’s ideas, intent, and desires are communicated to the contractor. The contractor and owner work together to make the project design come to fruition. During this phase, the owner and contractor should identify and resolve any potential issues that may arise during the project’s entirety, which will result in a smoother, more efficient construction phase.

  2. Construction site survey and plan designA professional survey of the project site is performed and the civil engineer drafts the site plan for the project. The project team then identifies and works through any potential issues, including zoning, stormwater management, DNR-designated mapped wetlands and DNR-designated wetland indicator soils. Any setback requirements and achievable grade elevation issues could result in modifications and reconsiderations to the building design.

  3. Preliminary project plansThe contractor and owner work together to create plans that give the contractor the opportunity to start communicating and coordinating with subcontractors. The project team will start to gather preliminary costs from contractors and vendors. In addition, the site plan design will be sent into the local municipality for site plan approval. The process and timeline for site plan approval may vary per municipality.

  4. Construction documents — The contractor and owner iron out the project's finer details. The goal is to create a final set of construction documents that will be utilized to finalize the project cost. These documents will also be submitted to local and state approval authorities for permits before beginning construction.

  5. State and local project plan approval timeline — Project plans are submitted to state and local governments. The review times can vary based on municipality and state workload and your location. On rare occasions, state or local reviewers may require revisions to the project’s design, in which case the plans will need to be revised and resubmitted.

  6. Procurement — The contractor gathers subcontractor bids and material pricing for the project and qualifies the quotes. The contractor and owner discuss prospective subcontractors and select the most qualified for the project.

  7. Building permits & construction mobilization — Once the project has acquired state and local approval, local building permit applications are submitted and permits obtained. The general contractor and subcontractors begin mobilizing the project site with job trailers and equipment. Proper safety and site management (fencing, barriers, erosion control, etc.) are put in place. Groundbreaking events are coordinated and held during this phase.

  8. Construction —The project has progressed from the creation of the contract documents to the physical construction of the project. A master schedule created by the contractor (with the owner's approval) guides all project partners, allowing all team members to construct the project efficiently. Regular project status meetings are held with the owner, and the schedule is maintained and updated to reflect current project conditions.

  9. Project closeout – The construction phase has been completed. The owner will be trained on how to operate their building and supplied with operating and maintenance manuals for various equipment. Mechanical and electrical equipment is programmed to meet the design of the building and punch-list items are recognized and resolved. The allotted time required for successful closeout is often overlooked, but both parties should have a thorough understanding of the closeout process and work together to establish a proper move in date for the owner.

  10. Project completion – The project has been completed with all systems functional. The owner has proper knowledge of their facility, any applicable warranties for the project now go into effect, and an occupancy permit has been fulfilled. It’s important to remember that, in some cases, office furniture cannot be moved into a building until an occupancy permit has been obtained.

Did you know A.C.E. Building Service uses the design-build construction delivery method? Learn more about the five phases of the design-build process and how we can help successfully plan your manufacturing construction project here!

How to Effectively Plan Your Construction Project Timeline

Planning a construction project timeline can seem daunting at first, but following the below recommendations should help make the process much smoother and less stressful, ensuring you complete your project on time and within budget.

  • Establish the schedule — Create a schedule that includes all construction phases. It’s important to understand how the tasks in the schedule link to each other to form a critical path and create realistic time frames for the different phases. This is also the perfect time to identify possible constraints and build in float time for any issues that arise.

  • Contingency planning — Having a contingency built into the schedule ahead of time can ease the impact of unexpected events and drawbacks.

  • Schedule maintenance — The project schedule should be a moving and breathing asset that's regularly updated to meet the current conditions of the project. It's important to track all tasks that are ahead and behind schedule and ensure project stakeholders are held accountable.

  • Understand responsibilities — Ensure clear communication and ownership by understanding the responsibilities of yourself and your partners. It’s also important to understand how all these responsibilities correlate to the project.

  • Communication — Consistency and communication are integral to the management of any project, so it’s important to establish open lines of communication between partners by designating clear points of contact and authority for decisions.

  • Organization — Have productive, well-documented meetings and create organizational tools such as an “action items” list. Having a shareable list with constraints, corresponding action items, and resolutions helps the team stay organized and on track.
Take a deeper dive into the steps you should take while planning your construction project timeline here!

A.C.E. Building Service offers commercial and industrial construction services, providing comprehensive design-build contractor services as a single source for all your facility needs.

We are proud to be an exclusive distributor of the Butler product line in Northeast Wisconsin and the Lakeshore counties of Manitowoc and Sheboygan. With the help of Butler’s pre-engineered metal buildings, we are able to design and execute functional, tasteful, cost-effective, and efficiently constructed buildings under compressed project timelines.

Contact us today to learn more about our construction services or request a quote. We hope to hear from you soon!

Design-Build Buyer's Guide | ACE Building Service

Topics: Construction Schedule, Construction and Renovation

Written by Chris Herzog

President
Chris is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Platteville where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Construction Management. A LEED accredited professional (AP), he began his career as an estimator for a local construction company and worked in field operations for a road construction company prior to joining A.C.E. in 2005 as an estimator/project manager. Chris works with owners to develop construction projects from the idea to design phase to construction. Much of his work is in pre-construction services where he assists owners in land selection, performs feasibility studies and works with government officials to obtain permits and approvals. He helps align owner’s goals with finished building projects and serves as the owner’s representative to A.C.E. construction personnel.