So you've gone through the construction phase, and your construction job is finally done. Congratulations! Time to cut the ribbon and get on with your life, right?
Not quite. If you’re here at the end, then you’re quite familiar with the pre-construction phase. Well, guess what? There’s a post-construction phase as well.
The post-construction phase is there in case something happens after your building construction is complete. Maybe you find that something isn’t meeting your needs, or you quickly realize that you will require an expansion. If you find yourself in this situation, you likely worked with a contractor who didn’t have a post-construction process in place.
Like the pre-construction phase, the post-construction phase protects you should any situations come up after the build is complete. A good contractor knows that the work isn’t done once you cut the ribbon and open your doors.
Here’s a look at the post-construction process to help you know what to expect once your job is complete.
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Post-Construction Starts Sooner Than You’d Think
As your build nears its end, your contractor should be preparing you for the post-construction phase. He or she should arm you with the tools and information you will need to manage your new building, facility, or home. That’s right — the post-construction phase actually begins before the build is done.
In fact, the client can be prepped for the post-construction phase before the building even begins. Proper preparation is key through every step of the build, and you should have an idea of what to expect in the post-construction phase early on in the process. Just like with the pre-construction checklist, you will have one to go through after work is finished on the home. You will be able to make changes as needed during the construction and be confident that you know your building inside and out at the end of construction.
When a construction job wraps up, some documents will certify a project has come to its end. These official documents are an important part of the post-construction process.
The Final Post-construction Paperwork
Every construction company will have its own terminology for handing over the reins to the building owner. However, what they should all have in common during the closeout process, is that they don’t leave their client hanging.
After every construction element is complete and the owner moves into the facility, the architect should call for any issues. Of course, they should have planned for any such issues during the pre-planning process, so whatever may happen should not come as a total shock.
To give the owner peace of mind, there are actually documents that will say whether a project is truly complete. The architect for the project will issue a certificate of substantial completion when the building has been inspected and is deemed finished according to every step of the construction documents. The local government authority will also issue a Certificate of Occupancy that will declare that the building complies with all of the proper permits and local regulations. At this point, occupancy is now permitted.
Once the final punch list has been completed, those documents have been signed and issued, a cessation of labor is then filed, when the construction project will reach its completion. The owner will make the final payment to the contractor, and the job is done.
However, there is likely language in the contracts and warranties that will protect the homeowner if they need any additional work from their builder. But first, to help you out with your new building, your builder will provide you with some materials during the post-construction phase. These may include final drawings and operations manuals.
Final Building Drawings and Operations Manuals
Your builder will work off of schematics, a project scope, and a construction schedule to build your home of the new office. In the end, it’s time to turn those documents over to you in the form of a final drawing or blueprint and an operations manual. These items will help the building owner gain a full understanding of the layout of their building and all of its technical systems.
Having smart features installed won’t do you any good if you don’t know how to use them. A good contractor won’t just install items and leave it up to you to figure it out — they’ll teach you. You’ll emerge from the construction with intimate knowledge of your building and be able to relay that knowledge to your employees.
Training and Follow-ups
Most contractors will offer more than just a drawing and a manual to help you with the post-construction phase. They should walk you through every aspect of the final building and show you how everything works. You’ll learn how to use your new building and all of its features safely.
The contractor shouldn’t wipe their hands clean at this point and never be heard from again. You should expect for there to be a follow-up meeting to check in on how everything in the building is performing and see if any issues need to be addressed. The contractor should stand behind their work and be there to make sure it is of the highest quality.
Often, the post-construction phase will be protected by warranty, which owners should take advantage of should there be any issues. Contractors should have no issue honoring the warranty if the issue is something they should have prevented. As long as they can fix the problem, they should be there to do the work.
And if they can’t, they should send the appropriate subcontractors to get it done. The post-construction phase should be as painless as possible and only serves to protect the client.
Planning for Future Expansion
Good builders should have plans in place for future expansion as well. Often, facilities are built, and the business moves in and quickly realizes that they need more space. The builder can often plan for such a circumstance and even be ready should business boom and expansion be required. Before the build even begins, during the pre-construction planning stages, your builder should be prepared for these situations and consider them as pre-construction costs.
Otherwise, you’ll end up with a facility that can’t be expanded and have to start the process of searching for a new site all over again. Taking future expansions into account, therefore, actually fits somehow into both the pre and post-construction phase. It’s all connected, after all!
By carefully planning, you and your builder will save time and money by staying ready for any situation that requires expansion. This is a best-case scenario next move, so it’s certainly something that you want to be ready for when it happens, rather than in a panic, scrambling for more space to catch up with demand.
Accounting for Turnover
This actually pertains to the builder, not you and your employees. Being prepared for turnover within your construction company is something every builder will have to deal with at a certain point in time. However, turnover should never affect the quality of work that a builder produces.
If you require something to be expanded, updated, or fixed after your build is complete, it is the builder’s responsibility to manage turnover to ensure their new team members can get the job done. Just because an employee wasn’t there during the initial build does not mean they cannot assist with renovations or expansions.
You can plan for this during pre-construction by asking bidders how the plan for turnover and maintain project continuity. In fact, this is one of the key elements of post-construction since there may come a time when you need to call upon your builder to help you out. The professionalism of your builder and their employees should remain consistent throughout the turnover process.
Preparing for Adjustments
Things tend to change as a facility goes from finished product to used building. The facility's demands may change as the business grows, and more space is needed, or certain functions may be required that weren’t before. During the post-construction phase, your builder should be prepared for any of these adjustments.
During the post-construction phase, your builder should be ready to make adjustments and modifications to your building. They should also be able to optimize anything that isn’t performing properly or make improvements so certain items can be more efficient for your needs.
The post-construction phase exists to make sure your building performs as intended throughout its useful life.
It is likely that your building wasn’t constructed during every season of the year (we hope). If so, the builder should return to perform seasonal testing to ensure that the building performs as expected during opposite seasons. This is because all system cannot be tested at full load during the construction phase, especially if there will be different seasonal climate conditions.
For example, the air conditioning probably won’t be tested if your building is constructed in the winter, and vice versa for your boiler if the construction company installed it in the summer. Off-season testing should be a part of the post-construction phase to ensure these systems operate correctly when they are needed.
If there are issues, you should expect them to make the necessary corrections.
The post-construction stage will also include a review of what can be done with the facility and when you and your company happen to move out. The building should be such that they can recommission the facility for other uses. Your builder will actually put together a plan to recommission the building through its life cycle.
Final Satisfaction Review
At some point, the warranty periods of every build will come to an end, at which point the post-construction phase will fizzle out as well. Your builder should still be available should any issues come up after the warranty period, but they are no longer bound by any contract or contract documents to help you out.
The final review will typically occur a year after the owner moves into the building. At this meeting, tests should be conducted on all facilities to ensure their quality, and the builder should ask the owner questions about their satisfaction. This way, the contractor can learn from the experience and use it in future builds. It also serves as a nice way to put a bow on the relationship between client and builder.
The entire construction process can seem like an arduous journey, especially when you factor in this post-construction phase. However, these methods are in place to protect the owner of the building and make sure they are satisfied with their final product for years to come and ensure the feasibility, quality, and safety of the building and those inside.