Building construction is an ancient human activity that began purely from a functional need to provide shelter from the elements. Over time, human beings have adapted to a variety of climates. The first human shelters were basic structures that did not last long.
Now, more durable structures are available thanks to the development of durable construction materials, elaborate building techniques and processes, and improvements in construction labor.
Building construction is a complex undertaking, irrespective of the type of building. Succeeding requires a lot of time, effort, and financial investment. The first step to a successful construction project is to develop an extensive plan.
The building construction process must be done step by step to ensure an efficient construction process. Consider important aspects such as the purpose of the building, finances, utility, and demand for work before starting the planning phase.
This article will discuss the building construction process from start to finish.
Table of Contents
What is building construction?
Building construction describes the physical activity on a construction site that contributes to building or structure construction. This process involves unloading plant, machinery, materials, cladding, fixture, fitting of installations, formwork, and external finish.
The building construction process is a series of routine tasks completed by skilled persons. It involves a lot of time and tedious work and must be managed carefully. This process can be split into three phases: pre-construction, construction, and post-construction.
Step 1: Pre-construction process
Before a project begins, the client must work closely with the design team and contractor to develop the project plan. The pre-construction process is where the contractor and the design team develop detailed drawings, budgets, schedules, and labor projections.
The core team defines the project and prepares cost estimates depending on the client’s budget. The team must also identify potential risks and develop solutions to ensure optimal use of resources.
The pre-construction phase is characterized by deliberate thoroughness to ensure that all potential needs are identified and addressed early. Regular communication between the core project team and the consultants is vital during pre-construction.
The most crucial step in building construction is acquiring land for the project. The location should be well-suited for the project requirements. Before the land acquisition, it is best to conduct feasibility studies to ensure the land is strategically located and is free from land-related issues. It is also necessary to evaluate the project's cost-effectiveness before kickoff.
The pre-construction phase starts with an initial meeting between the client and the general contractor. The parties can familiarize themselves with each other. It also allows contractors to understand the client’s needs.
The two parties must define the goals and objectives of the project at this stage. The client has an opportunity to ask questions that the contractor must resolve. The contractor must use this meeting to understand the client’s vision and decide whether or not they can execute it.
The initial meeting allows the contractor to determine the scope of work, the feasibility of the project, and the amount of work required. The contractor can then define the project deliverables and outline a schedule.
Estimating and budgets
Once the initial meeting is completed, the contractor can visit the site and develop a design and layout. Building construction involves a considerable quantity of material and budget, and it is easy for costs to overrun. Once the planning and structural detailing is done, the construction estimator shares the details.
The construction estimator estimates the quantity and quality of materials needed. The contractor will then develop a budget that includes estimated costs of labor, materials, machinery, and other requirements. The budget will depend on the quality and quantity of materials needed.
If financial resources are limited, the contractor and the property owner must seek pre-approval loans before construction.
Once the project scope is laid out and the contractor has done a site visit, it is time to develop a project schedule. The schedule defines when certain aspects of the work will start and end.
The schedule is typically updated during the project lifecycle to paint a clearer picture of construction timelines. Project scheduling is crucial as it affects overall project costs and profit margins.
Step 2: Building construction phase
With the project plan and team in place, it is time to clear the site and start building. The building construction phase is where the project comes to life. It is a critical step because it involves multiple working parts and deadlines.
Each contractor and subcontractor must now execute the plan, from site preparation to construction.
Site preparation is the clearing of the site in readiness for construction. Site preparation clears the way for other remedial or demolition work required before workers start constructing the building.
Site clearing involves removing rubbish, machinery, equipment, and unwanted materials. Some site preparation activities may require approvals. The workers must take care not to destroy any trees that are meant to be protected.
A site waste management plan (SWMP) is essential to ensure materials are managed and disposed of efficiently and legally. The SWMP also outlines the reuse and recycling of materials where possible. Only professional disposal experts should handle hazardous substances like asbestos and contaminated waste.
Site preparation is typically carried out under the main construction contract but can be carried out in advance. Site preparation can also be part of a wider enabling works contract, including soil stabilization, demolition, construction of access roads, and services diversion.
The construction process begins at excavation and ends once the interior and exterior finishes are complete.
Once the site is cleared, it is time for excavation. Excavation refers to the removal of earth to form a cavity in the ground. Small sites may do excavation manually using shovels, picks, and wheelbarrows. However, heavy plant machinery is used in large-scale excavations.
Excavation can be classified according to the material being removed, for instance, topsoil, muck, earth, and rock excavation. It can also be classified according to the purpose: trench, road, basement, and bridge excavation.
The cleared and excavated site is now ready for construction, and the foundation can be poured. The foundation is the lower part of the substructure. It transfers the building’s loads to the ground.
The foundation is built according to the architect’s drawings. The drawings determine the foundation's length, width, depth, size, and type.
Concrete foundations are widely used for building structures. However, the choice of foundation can vary depending on the water table level and soil composition of the location. Soil testing is crucial to determine the bearing capacity of the soil.
Shallow foundations may be adequate for low-rise buildings. However, pile foundations are best for high-rise buildings. Builders will place formworks and reinforcements in the excavated trenches to construct the foundation. The Engineer must monitor the reinforcement works.
Framing is the installation of wood frames and steel beams to support the building. It is a time-consuming but crucial part of building construction as it sets the groundwork for the rest of the building.
Now that the framing is complete, it is time to begin the masonry work. The architect’s drawings will determine the material used: ash brick, concrete blocks, or bricks.
The masons bind the building materials using a cement mortar mix, leaving gas for the doors, windows, and doorways.
Electrical and plumbing work
The specialty contractors are brought in to complete the rough plumbing and electrical work. This process involves installing pipes and wires under the floors, ceilings, and walls.
The electrical and plumbing work is not completed at this stage; only the rough work is done to enable drywall, insulation, and ceiling installation. The point and pipe ends must be left out and finished later with plumbing fixtures and electrical fittings.
This step is important to ensure that electrical and plumbing work is not visible after finishing.
Once the basic structure is done, roofing is installed. Roofing protects the interior from the weather elements, preventing damage and disruptions. The contractors should be brought in to start working on the exterior of the building at this stage.
Exterior finishing involves plastering the external parts of the building. It also involves external cladding to elevate the house.
Heating and cooling work
With a roof and exterior walls in place, it is time to address the heating and cooling needs of the building. This process involves the installation of vents, ducts, heating units, and cooling systems.
The next step is to plaster the internal walls for a smooth finish and install tiles on the floor. Interior finishing also includes installing drywall, ceiling, and insulation. The electrician can also come in and finish the outlets and install the light fixtures.
Woodwork and fixture fittings
The construction is almost complete now, and it is time to complete the plumbing fittings in the kitchen and bathrooms. Toilets, cabinets, windows, and doors are fitted too.
Waterproofing is the process of preventing water from penetrating the building. Waterproofing is done to reduce humidity and keep the house dry.
Painting gives the house a beautiful finish and protects it from exposure to rain, dirt, sunlight, and stains. A good paint job can give a building 5 to 10 extra years of life.
Step 3: Post-construction phase
The post-construction phase is the final process before the building is handed over to the client or owner. The post-construction phase includes completing the punch list items and the final walk-through. A punch list is a document that lists all the contract items a contractor must fulfill to be paid.
Once the construction is complete, the team must walk through the building to confirm that all the project specifications have been met. The contractor and the architect must certify that the building is fully functional.
If the architect is satisfied, they will issue a certificate of satisfactory completion. The relevant supervisors must confirm that the building meets the local authorities' requirements, and the local government will issue a certificate of occupancy.
The contractor can now hand over the building to the owner. The owner is given substantial time to confirm that they are comfortable operating every aspect of the new building. The contractor can provide training and support as necessary.
The contractor also must hand over all the blueprints and operation manuals to the owner.
The building construction process is essential to the success of any construction project. It consumes a lot of time and resources but ensures no stone is left unturned.
The building construction process can be split into three main phases, pre-construction, construction, and post-construction. The three main phases of construction involve many systematic activities.
The pre-construction phase includes acquiring land, strategic design, preparing budgets and estimates, acquiring licenses and permits, and hiring experts. The construction phase involves site preparation, excavation, foundation, framing, masonry work, roofing, interior finishes, and exterior finishes.
Finally, post-construction involves the final walkthrough and the handover of the completed building.
What is the building construction process from start to finish?
The building construction process starts from pre-construction, construction, and finally, post-construction. Each of these phases involves different activities.
What is the construction project cycle?
The construction project cycle begins from strategic definition and design to construction and then handover.
What is the order of construction?
Construction order refers to the major sequence of work followed while constructing a building. Construction order typically starts with marking, excavation, foundation, framing, brick masonry, roofing, flooring, and finishing. All these steps include several activities.
What is the first step of building construction?
The first step of building construction is ensuring the ground is cleared and graded properly. The next step after preparing the land is pouring the foundation. The type of foundation is determined by the type and size of the building.
The skeleton is then created through framing. The walls and windows, doors, and fittings are installed. The electrical and plumbing are done Next. The roof is put up, and the finishing is done.