Getting through the finish line of a construction project can be difficult. Transgressions may have happened during the project , and the window to “settle the score” may seem to be vanishing. Owners, builders, subcontractors and architects may double-down and gird for confrontation. This is usually a poor strategy for project completion.

Construction projects have many elements: the actual physical construction, the players, the money, the time, the emotions, the inconvenience, all to hopefully balance out the result.

So let me analyze and suggest from my past 35 years of related experience of closing out construction projects. There are some common factors in almost all construction projects that will need to be addressed. Here’s a link from the contractors viewpoint

Closeout Dos

A. Get your ducks in a row. Locate and review all the related paperwork including payments, invoices, certifications, permits, inspections, change orders, warranty, certificate of occupancy, punch-lists, lien waivers. You will appear organized and prepared- this lets the others know you are serious and value their time. The others will usually follow suit so they do not cede any ground for possible negotiations that may follow and also helps stream line the process. Stress how this is to everyone’s advantage to settle efficiently and move on.

B. Create an exit strategy that includes deliverables by certain dates .(approximate dates at least ) i.e “punch-list to be completed by September 2, 2020”. This will require negotiation and input from various sources (i.e. building dept., bank, various subcontractors) . One will need to create a work-flow schedule since the sequence of close-out usually entail work and approvals from various parties. Don’t forget to update your certificate of occupancy and notify your insurer.

C. Monitor progress. Whether it is daily or weekly -pick an interval and a means to communicate regularly to review. Course corrections, pivots and adjustments are normal and seem basic- but this takes discipline and redundancy and some flexibility. Remember to incentivize- whether it is the release of retainage money or future good referrals on social media the “carrot” definitely gets you further than the “stick”

D. Show appreciation when appropriate. Yes many projects are simply transactions of business, but a human touch can go a long way to soothe bumps and hurdles encountered during construction.

Closeout Don’ts

A. Don’t be a hard-ass. This is tough to do and requires a high level of self-awareness. Nothing can galvanize a tenuous relationship more than digging in their heels at a critical time. Sincere, logic-based discussions are always more fruitful. Sometimes a 3rd party or meeting in very public place can help in these talks to take the animosity out of the air (or at least create more civil discourse). Pull on the same end of the rope when possible to make completion easier. Talk about the benefits of completion.

B. Don’t dawdle on decisions and final plans/dates. Make timely decisions if you are an owner or stake-holder.

C. DON’T WITHHOLD PAYMENT IF DUE! Nothing can derail a project faster than an anxious General Contractor who has mounting debts to his subcontractors and suppliers. Pay promptly don’t risk a lien being filed.

D. Don’t suddenly be an expert on i.e.masonry because you read an online wiki post on mortar and now feel entitled to discuss mortar efflorescence. Respect for others knowledge and craft is helpful.

Article by Steven Secon