5 Must-Have Stages for Your Construction Project Checklist

Category: Construction | By Holly Hughes-Barnes | 13 minute read | Updated Oct 17, 2023
Construction Project Checklist

One study found that 98% of large construction projects are delivered late and at nearly double their projected cost. 

So, if you’ve ever managed any type of construction project that went over time and over budget, you aren’t alone. 

But that doesn’t mean you should be satisfied with the status quo. There are ways to streamline your construction management processes and get better results.

And they all start with understanding the five stages of construction project management:

  1. Initiation
  2. Planning
  3. Executing
  4. Controlling
  5. Closing

This article will outline each of these project management steps and it will give you a construction project checklist for each stage of project management, to help you finish your construction project on time. Then you can use these lists during each phase of construction to start delivering quality work.

What is a construction checklist?

As with any checklist, a construction project management checklist is a way to keep projects organized and on track. It breaks down each phase of a construction project into smaller steps and helps you track things like materials, equipment, tasks, and more.

As each item on the checklist is completed, it provides a clear direction to the next step in the process.

Benefits of having a construction checklist

Construction projects frequently run into issues due to miscommunication or not having a clear understanding of what is supposed to be happening, by whom, and when. Construction checklists provide the needed guidance to stay organized and provide multiple benefits.

Set priorities

With a construction checklist, your crews and leads will understand which parts of the projects are priorities and which can wait. This way, they know what to do first and won’t waste time working on steps that are not necessary at that particular phase of the project.

Develop your teamwork

When everyone knows what needs to be done, they’re better able to work as a team, rather than individuals on their specific jobs. 

Set a shared goal

With a clear outline of the project and each step and what’s expected for each one, everyone has the common goal of getting the job done and getting it done right.

The five stages of project management for your checklist

The five stages of project management provide a structured approach to effectively plan, execute, and complete projects of all sizes and complexities. 

Incorporating these stages into your project management checklist ensures that you have a comprehensive framework to guide you through each phase of your project, from initiation to closure. 

Stage 1: Initiation

The initiation stage of a project involves everything that needs to happen to get a project started—from deciding if the project is the right fit, to signing the contracts necessary to get going.

In a construction project, the initiation stage is part of pre-construction. In a typical design-bid-build delivery model, the first step in initiating a project is responding to a request for proposal or RFP.

But before you spend the time, energy, and money it takes to respond to an RFP, you need to evaluate whether or not the project makes sense for your company.

Here are some questions you and other company stakeholders should ask before placing a bid:

  • Is the value of the project worth our time?
  • Are our services fit for the client’s needs?
  • Do our other jobs leave room for us to take on this project? 
  • Do we have the resources we need to do a good job?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then don’t proceed. But if you can answer yes to all of them, you should start drafting a proposal.

And if you want to create a winning bid, you’ll need to do quite a bit of pre-planning. 

Your proposal should include an overview of how you’ll manage the project. It should include a list of the project’s stakeholders as well as the project’s scope and deliverables. You’ll also want to include a risk assessment, a list of estimated costs, and a start and end date.

Then, when you’ve won the bid, you can negotiate a contract. And once it’s signed, the initiation process is over. 

But it isn’t time to jump straight into the construction phase of your project just yet. Instead, you’ll need to move to stage two of project management, which is creating an even more detailed plan. 

But before we move on, let’s review the steps to take during initiation.

Checklist for initiating a construction project:

1. Evaluate RFP’s

  • Is the value of the project worth our time?
  • Are our services fit for the client’s needs?
  • Do our other jobs leave room for us to take on this project?
  • Do we have the resources we need to do a good job? 
2. Draft a proposal

  • Define the scope of work
  • Define project deliverables
  • List all stakeholders
  • Define start date
  • Define delivery date
  • Include a risk assessment
  • Outline a risk mitigation plan
  • Estimate fees and costs 
  • Place competitive bid 
3. Negotiate the contract

  • Define payment terms
  • Double-check that the proposal and contract terms correspond
  • Re-negotiate clauses that don’t split risks evenly
  • Include how to manage change orders
4. Sign the contract 

Stage 2: Planning

In construction project management, the initiation and planning stages often overlap because planning starts when a proposal is being drafted. 

But planning doesn’t stop after the proposal is accepted.

While the scope of the project, proposed budget, quality control plans, and risk assessments are included in the bid, more detailed plans should be completed once the project is won.

And you will use the bid proposal and contract agreement to inform these plans.

These plans will be the roadmap that guides all the actions during the construction phase of a project. They will break down work structures, nail down schedules, and outline procurement plans.  

Checklist for detailed planning of construction project:

1. Define what success looks like

  • Profitability
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Employee/Sub satisfaction
2. Detail budget

  • Include contingency allowances
  • Include hard costs
  • Include soft costs
  • Create a cash flow chart
  • Create a cost control plan
3. Breakdown of work structure

  • Detail project scope
  • List deliverables
  • Break work into small chunks
  • Lay out on-site logistics
4. Create schedules

  • Outline critical path 
  • Decide how to stack trades
5. Create communication plans

  • Compile a personnel list with names, jobs, and contact information
  • Set preferred communication method(s)
  • Establish frequency of stakeholder meetings
  • Establish frequency of on-site meetings  
6. Create procurement plans

  • Vet and choose vendors and subs
  • Source equipment
  • List items to order early because of backlogs, etc
  • Create inventory management plans
7. Create a site safety plan 

Download this Free Construction Checklist

Keep track of detailed information of activities and phases in your construction project.

Stage 3: Execution

The execution stage is where the work gets done, aka the construction phase of a project. 

During the construction phase, you’ll spend less time planning and more time making sure plans are carried out. So the execution stage goes hand in hand with the controlling stage of construction management.

Stage 4: Controlling

During the controlling stage, you’ll be monitoring the project’s progress. 

If the project starts going off course, take corrective action to keep the project within scope, costs within budget, and schedules on time.

Checklist for executing and controlling the construction project:

1. Keep daily activity, work, and safety logs
2. Monitor and manage change orders
3. Monitor materials use
4. Monitor who comes on and off the site
5. Monitor equipment
6. Monitor costs vs. cash flow
    • Make sure client payments are on time
    • Make sure subs are paid on time
    • Track all expenses 

Stage 5: Closing

The closing stage of a construction project involves everything that needs to happen to finish work and deliver the project.

This stage usually starts when a project has reached substantial completion. And it isn’t officially finished until the client has paid and an end-of-project review has been done.

Checklist for closing out the project:

  1. Finish Punch List
  2.  Get final inspections
  3.  Double-check your work represents what was agreed to in the contract
  4.  Meet with the owner to review the satisfaction
  5.  Obtain a certificate of completion
  6.  Hand over schematics, operation manuals, utilities instructions, and keys
  7.  Send construction invoices to the owner for the remainder of the fees
  8.  Make sure all subs and vendors are paid in full
  9.  Make sure all rented equipment is returned in good condition
  10.  Make the final budget report
  11.  Make sure all documentation is filed properly for future review 
  12.  Do an end-of-project review to assess the project’s successes/failures 

Additional tips for using a project management checklist

By following these additional tips, you can make the most of your construction project checklist and increase the likelihood of a successful and well-executed project:

  • Be specific and detailed in your checklist.
  • Break down large tasks into smaller, more manageable tasks.
  • Assign deadlines to each task.
  • Update your checklist regularly as the project progresses.
  • Share your checklist with the project team and stakeholders.

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It takes a great deal of forethought to plan and run an efficient project. Hopefully, this must-do for a construction project checklist will help you consistently deliver high-quality work—on time and under budget.

For even more tips on how to deliver the highest quality construction projects, visit our post, 10 Tips For Quality Control on Your Construction Project.

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