How to Create and Use Pre-construction Meeting Checklists

Every project has the same series of questions that must be addressed prior to starting work. For example, it is important to know where to place a trash container or what dust-control measures will be used during the work. Making assumptions about the answers can foul up a project and make a homeowner unhappy with the remodeling process. Using preconstruction meeting checklists can avoid these problems by getting the client involved
in the decision-making process.

“Our pre-construction meeting checklist serves a couple of purposes,” explains Gregory Harth, CR, CAPS, president of Harth Builders, Spring House, Pa. “First, it establishes communication between the production team and homeowners. Second, it formulates a plan of where things will go and what is expected of the crew and homeowners during the process.”

Harth’s meetings typically are two-hours long. He requires that all clients attend. The meetings begin with introductions and the exchange of contact information between the production team and homeowners. Then a
weekly meeting is scheduled between the lead carpenter, production coordinator and homeowners. There also is a review of what will be happening during the project, a discussion of all site issues and any miscellaneous items that
are specific to the project.

A company must create a checklist specific to the needs of its remodeling process. Harth suggests taking the following steps:

  • Identify information inconsistently relayed to clients, problems that typically occur on a job and steps in the process commonly missed to figure out where to focus on solutions.
  • Write down what your company currently does day-to-day on each project. It’s easier to edit a process currently in place than to create one from scratch.
  • Revise the process and change things that aren’t working to solve current problems.
  • Create supporting materials, like flowcharts, written instructions, calendars, binders or standard operating procedures. Get the input of lead carpenters, office managers and clients in creating these materials. The feedback will create a better process in the end.

Following a pre-construction meeting checklist can help create consistency on every project for a company. To make the process clear, Harth breaks down his preconstruction checklist into six main areas:

  1. Introduction: The point people for the company introduce themselves to the homeowners and describe what everyone’s role will be on the project.
  2. Basics: The team establishes the hours of operation, house access and health considerations, as well as exchanges alternative contact information.
  3. Procedures: The team reviews proper communication procedures, payment schedules, product selection, change orders, the tentative start and completion dates, and site cleanup.
  4. Site issues: The team addresses sitespecific issues, such as pets and children that may be in the home; removal of items from the work zone, including furniture, wall hangings and other valuables; items to be saved, such as fixtures, cabinets and appliances. In addition, locations for Dumpster placement, parking and staging areas are created.
  5. Miscellaneous: This portion of the checklist typically includes locating electric/gas shut-offs, taking pre-construction photos, noting existing property damage and putting a jobsite sign in the yard.
  6. Post-meeting: The post-meeting section ensures items, like a Dumpster and project lumber, have been ordered and an invoice for the project has been created.

When Harth Builders once failed to follow its own pre-construction checklist procedure with a repeat client, items weren’t removed from an adjacent work zone wall and were damaged. Because this was the fourth project the team had completed with the homeowner, the team skipped through the pre-construction meeting checklist and assumed both parties knew what to expect. “The checklist ensures the same conversation happens every time with every client to avoid miscommunication,” Harth says. “It was something we neglected to do in this instance and resulted in damaged artwork.”

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