10 Preconstruction Meeting Questions You Need To Ask For A Successful Construction Project

Written by Dane Dickerson

DateMar 7, 2024
Reading time8 min read
construction site

The preconstruction meeting is an opportunity for all project stakeholders to norm on what the finished project will look like and how to get there. In this meeting, a project manager and other parties will flesh out the construction schedule, define and plan for risks, delegate responsibility, finalize budget expectations, and establish effective communication frameworks to use throughout the construction project.

Why Are Preconstruction Meetings So Important?

A successful preconstruction meeting sets the tone for a successful construction project. It is an integral precursor for projects that are completed on time, within budget, and of sufficient quality.

A project without a thorough preconstruction meeting is akin to winging a school group presentation. Without a designated meeting to review the presentation’s slides, delegate talking points to classmates, and review the scope of the presentation, execution will be awkward and clunky. There is a greater chance that important information will be left out and the final product will be half-baked. 

Questions for a particular pre-construction meeting will vary widely depending on the scope of the construction project, the schedule, and the client’s vision. As a reference to build on, here are ten crucial questions a successful project.

Must-Ask Meeting Questions Before Construction Begins

Here are the top 10 preconstruction meeting questions you'll need to ask before you begin a construction project.

Question 1: Has the subcontractor been informed of the timeline and confirmed their start date?

Aiming to complete a project by a set date is not a one-step process, but rather the culmination of meeting several mini-deadlines. This goal is the responsibility of all parties involved in a construction project, but subcontractors hold an especially large responsibility in meeting deadlines.

Reviewing a scheduled start date antecedently can allow projects to hit the ground running. If there is any confusion as to when construction begins, it needs to be cleared up before that date. Scheduling review can also help reaffirm a team's understanding of project milestones in the context of a larger schedule.

Question 2: Can we ensure all product data submissions within the subcontractor’s scope have been reviewed to identify any limitations?

Product data submittals provide important specifics about their requirements and implementation in the context of the entire project. Product data might have a requirement that is inconsistent with what the contractor is prepared for in the preconstruction phase, or inconsistent with the capabilities of other products. Such requirements may also require site management tools that were not previously considered.

For example, product data says a substrate needs to have holes no larger than ¼” but the contractor’s current substrate doesn’t have such a requirement. This would require the contractor to either patch those holes first, delay the construction schedule to replace the substrate, or risk failing a warranty inspection later on.

Or maybe, product data says it must not be left exposed to the sun for longer than 30 days. Schedule and site management logistics would then need to be reviewed to see if this is feasible.

A thorough understanding of all of these product data intricacies is necessary for project completion timeliness. Discussing and preparing for product requirements in a preconstruction meeting will help streamline a construction project and honor an expected completion date.

Question 3: Is the presence of manufacturer representatives required for any part of the project, and if so, when are these visits scheduled?

This question is dependent on your construction project and may not be as important in every situation. Manufacturer representative visits are required in commercial construction for various products to provide a warranty. 

Proper use and installation of their products will secure a warranty, so it is important to prepare for these visits in advance. Scheduling them during preconstruction meetings ensures that all team members are aware of them, and can ultimately avoid schedule delays down the line.

Question 4: Have all the samples been reviewed and approved by the architect?

Product sampling is an important aspect of controlling the final product of a commercial construction project. Ideally, the architects and project managers will have a chance to review product samples thoroughly before construction begins. Seeing how individual samples will fit together in the project can help weed out glaring flaws before it is too late.

The aesthetic value of samples is a factor in choosing products, but the functionality can also be tested using free samples from manufacturers. For instance, if an apartment complex is intended to be advertised for quality and furnishing longevity, the architect and project team would benefit from testing a sample of tiling or counter materials for durability. Moreover, a team could pick the desired thickness of a given tile in the context of a desired baseboard. These examples are seemingly minute but it is better to consider them before you have mistakenly installed hundreds of feet of tile that simply won’t mesh with other products.

Question 5: Is there a need for mock-ups, and if so, what are their scheduled timings and who must be present for their review and approval?

Similar to samples, mockups are a great tool for visualizing a completed project. Visual aids like mock-ups can set clear expectations for a project team. Accounting for mockups and their approval in the schedule ahead of time can help keep your team on track. If mockup approvals aren’t planned for, a simple change in design can add more delay time than needed.

Question 6: Could you outline the procedures for testing and inspections, including who will conduct them, their scheduled times, and the criteria for acceptance?

Testing and inspections are another must for a project schedule if a team hopes to finish by a deadline. Planning for necessary inspections and ensuring all responsible parties have prior knowledge of them can help a project team avoid delays or rushed preparation.

A clear understanding of who is going to be on-site and when gives a team time to prepare necessary materials for them. Like mock-ups and samples, defining adequacy criteria in advance creates a goal to strive towards long before the construction starts.

Question 7: Are attendees able to easily access and view the shop drawings or manufacturers' details?

Shop drawings, or fabrication drawings, are essential visuals for a project team to create, install, and replicate all components of a project plan. Simply including them in a presentation slide is not enough. Having copies of shop drawings replicated either on a poster or handouts for all attendees of a preconstruction meeting is optimal. This way, members of the meeting can refer to them to check their understanding as they see fit throughout the meeting

###: Question 8 What is the recommended approach for on-site storage of materials?

Material management practices can make or break a project’s efficiency. Ensuring all parties are on the same page regarding how materials will be stored on-site will set a project up for success.

Labor productivity culture, either positive or negative, can be infectious. Solid organization and security in material management prevent micro-delays involved in searching for the right materials. These micro-delays may seem insignificant, but when compounded over weeks and months they can become colossal enough to derail entire project schedules. 

Additionally, a proper catalog of materials can help eliminate waste. Subcontractors aiming to order just enough materials are wise to keep consistent inventory levels that are transparent to all team members.

Question 9: Is our project adhering to lean construction methodologies?

Agreeing to a lean construction plan has quite a lot of implications and responsibility. The extra collaboration and planning of lean construction practices will likely require a more lengthy meeting or set of meetings. If this is a part of a project plan, it needs to be obvious to all parties from the get-go.

Lean construction focuses not only on the project’s life in the short term but also on what happens to it when it has expired. This kind of long-term thinking requires extra forethought as well as a more conscientious mindset by all parties.

Secondly, lean construction emphasizes enhanced collaboration on every piece of the construction process, like project design and supply chain management. Instead of individual parties being responsible for their respective needs and ideas, lean construction requires an open discussion format where each party works towards the goal of eliminating waste and streamlining productivity.

Question 10: Can we discuss the current status of open submittals and RFIs?

New submittals and RFIs are almost guaranteed to pop up during the heat of the construction process, often at the least convenient times. RFI’s and submittals during construction add stress to the entire project team. A goal of the preconstruction meeting is to clarify as much confusion in project details as possible. 

When running a preconstruction meeting, designating a time to resolve open submittals and RFIs will increase the fluidity of a project once it begins. The earlier submittal questions are answered, the less risk of schedule delay in the future and the less chance there is for rework.

Parting Thoughts

Having a preconstruction meeting agenda can ignite beneficial discussion. Use this list as a guide. Add unique questions, edit what doesn't apply to your project, and don’t be afraid to be meticulous. Remember, the idea of a pre construction meeting is to establish good communication with your project team and to anticipate the unexpected before it causes problems.

Written by Dane DickersonUpdated on Mar 8, 2024

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