Tips for a Successful Build: A Project Checklist

Ideally, I could say that every project that we’ve built during the last 25 years has been perfect. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. As our company has matured beyond those early years, it’s become evident that starting out with a good game plan and a properly laid concrete foundation makes the rest of the job go much more smoothly. A few thoughts on getting it right:

Estimating and Preconstruction
Communicate clearly
. Ensure all parties understand the scope, specifications and plans and quality of local suppliers. All are not created equal.

Gather the troops. Before construction starts, have a meeting with all involved to ensure everyone is on the same page and the same team. An honest forum and cooperation are paramount.

Make a reasonable schedule. Get buy-in from all with clear expectations on the duration of each step in the construction process.

Speak to your concrete suppliers. Discuss the ability to supply and deliver at an appropriate and acceptable rate. You’ll find this very important.

Get submittals completed. This way, after the project starts you only have to deal with the on-site challenges, not the paperwork. It’s an important detail not to be overlooked.

Create a safe workplace. Safety is king.  If you’ve ever been on a project where someone was severely hurt or worse it’s not a pretty sight. Do everything you can to prevent injury before it happens.

Construction
Double check the surveyor’s layout. Getting it right in the beginning has lasting effects for a long, long time.

Lay foundations properly. Quality work upfront will make the rest of the job go much more smoothly.

Achieve proper compaction for stone sub-grade. Remember the slab is only as good as the sub-grade. If you fine grade stone to π” tolerance or greater, this will help to reduce cracking in the slabs on grade.

Have a pre-pour meeting. You’ve had a pre-construction meeting, but get everyone back together before pouring concrete slabs to ensure they’re on grade.

Maintain edge forms with tight tolerances. Concrete needs to have consistent slump.  Use early entry saw method to motivate cracks where you wish them to be placed.

Specifics for Tilt Wall Projects
Proper layout is key. Check and re-check for accuracy before you begin work.

Have safety meetings prior to work beginning. Continue regular safety meetings for duration of panel placement.

Brief crew members. Each should know his particular task and placement and be looking out for others. This will help avoid confusion and accidents.

Get a properly-sized crane. Don’t skimp, it will cost you.

Be prepared. Have tilt panel books and embeds ready as soon as possible.

Clear expectations and open communication coupled with a good team of contractors will provide a quality project. Effort up front may save you money in total. At the least, the organization will give you peace of mind.


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Merrill Stewart is Founder and President of the Stewart Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham, Ala. Contact him via email.

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