June 24, 2024

The 5 Basic Construction Phases: Project Management Guide

Ari Baranian
Ari Baranian
CEO & Co-founder of Pirros
construction worker

All construction projects, from small kitchen renovations to huge skyscrapers, follow five basic construction project phases. No steps are skippable, and each one requires a deep understanding of the tasks involved.

Regardless of your involvement in the project, everyone needs to be on the same page and understand what each phase entails. 

In this article, we've created a guide on the construction process, from project initiation to turnover.

Explaining the 5 Phases of Construction

Construction projects are broken down into five key phases, each playing an important role in making sure everything gets done right. Let's take a closer look at what each construction phase involves.

1. Project Initiation

We can argue that the first step to any construction project is the crucial one, and it's definitely where you want to put your best creative and logical minds together. Without a solid start, things can get tricky later on.

The project initiation phase is where it all begins and lays the groundwork for the entire project. Here's what happens:

Feasibility Study

The first step in project initiation is conducting a feasibility study to create a project initiation document (PID), the foundation of your construction project. This involves checking if the project is doable with the budget, materials, and time available.

Essentially, the feasibility study assesses the overall scope and resources to make sure the project can be completed as planned. It looks at whether the project makes sense financially, technically, and practically. 

Through careful evaluation of these factors, you can figure out if the project is worth going ahead with and spot any major challenges early on.

Defining Objectives

Next, it's important to clearly state what the project aims to achieve during the pre-construction meeting. Defining objectives involves setting out the project's goals and specific targets.

These objectives guide every phase and decision that follows so everyone understands what the project is supposed to accomplish. 

Clear objectives help keep the project on track and provide a way to measure success as things progress.

Stakeholder Identification

Recognizing everyone impacted by the project is another key step. Stakeholder identification means figuring out who has an interest in the project, from the project team to end-users and even outside parties like local authorities.

This step ensures that all relevant voices are considered in the planning process, which helps address their needs and concerns right from the start.

Schematic Design

The next step is the schematic design. This is where you create preliminary drawings and plans that outline the project's basic concepts and structures.

These early designs give you a visual idea of the project's layout and design, letting stakeholders see how everything will look and function on the actual construction site. 

It's an important step for getting initial feedback and making adjustments before diving into more detailed designs.

Contractual Agreements

The final step in this phase is setting up contractual agreements, which involves drafting and finalizing contract documents with everyone involved, like contractors, suppliers, and stakeholders. 

These agreements spell out the terms, responsibilities, and expectations for all parties.

Remember: Clear, well-defined contracts help prevent misunderstandings and allow everyone to be on the same page and committed to the project's success.

2. Pre-Construction

Once the project gets the green light, the pre-construction phase kicks in. In this phase, the whole team is plann

ing and getting everything ready for the build. Common steps in this phase include:

Design Development

First, you dive into design development, which means creating detailed blueprints and specs based on what the project needs. Architects and engineers work together to ensure the final drawings are practical and meet all the standards.

These detailed plans guide the construction process and make sure everyone knows what to do. 

Plus, it will help the project team estimate construction costs and make adjustments according to the project budget.

Permits and Approvals

Next up, you need to secure the necessary permits and approvals from local authorities. This includes getting building permits, zoning approvals, and environmental clearances.

Needless to say, these permits are essential as they guarantee the project follows local rules and can move forward without legal hiccups. 

Getting these approvals can sometimes take a while, so it's important to start this process early.

Site Preparation

The final part of pre-construction is all about getting the job site ready for the build. This means clearing the land of any debris, trees, or old structures, and conducting necessary tests like soil testing. 

You'll also need to set up temporary facilities like offices and storage areas for all the materials.

Making sure there’s easy access to the site is crucial for the smooth delivery of materials and equipment. Additionally, utilities such as water, electricity, and sewage need to be connected and ready to use.

3. Procurement

After you finalize the designs, permits, site prep, and other pre-construction needs, the next step is to gather everything you need for the actual construction.

Note that the procurement phase can be tedious, depending on the project size. You'll want to maintain proper communication with everyone involved and make sure you have enough time for each step before the construction project begins.

Selecting Vendors

First, you or your project manager will find reliable vendors and suppliers for materials and equipment. 

You'll need to do your homework to compare quality and prices, and then pick those who have a good track record of timely delivery and quality products.


Once you’ve chosen your vendors and suppliers, it’s time to finalize contracts. 

These contracts lay out the terms, responsibilities, and deadlines, ensuring everyone knows what’s expected of them.

Logistics Planning

Finally, you plan the logistics for getting materials and equipment to the site. This involves scheduling deliveries so that everything arrives on time without causing any hold-ups. 

Good logistics planning is key to keeping the project on track and avoiding delays, and this duty usually falls in the hands of project managers or whoever oversees the construction team.

wood pallets
4. Construction and Monitoring

All that effort in the pre-construction phases comes together in the construction stage. The project managers, architects, and engineering teams have laid out the groundwork for a successful project execution phase. 

Now, it's time for the contractors and sub-contractors to execute the plan.

Executing the Plan

This is where the rubber meets the road. Workers follow the blueprints and specifications to construct the project. 

From laying the foundation to putting up the walls and installing the roof, every step must be done according to the detailed plans developed earlier.

Quality Control Inspections

Quality control is key to making sure everything meets the project requirements and legal standards. This means regular inspections and testing of materials and workmanship.

When a construction manager checks the quality consistently, you can catch and fix any issues early and prevent bigger problems later.

Additionally, you will need a health and safety manager to approve that the site is safe for both workers and everyone who's going to use the project later on.

Monitoring Progress

Keeping track of progress ensures that construction work stays on schedule and within budget. This step involves construction project managers regularly checking project milestones, timelines, budgets, and completed work.

Effective monitoring allows for quick adjustments if something goes off track. Otherwise, project construction costs may exceed allotments and lead to further issues down the road.

5. Post-Construction

The construction is now complete, but the work isn't over yet. Now, you transition to the post-construction phase, where you wrap up the project and hand it over to the client. However, project closure is not as easy as it may seem. 

Here’s what you still need to do:

Final Inspections

First, you conduct final inspections to check if everything has been built according to the plans and meets all required standards. 

This involves a thorough walkthrough of the site and checking that all work is completed to satisfaction. Any issues that come up need to be addressed before moving forward.


Next, it’s time for the handover, which means officially transferring the project to the client or project owner. 

You’ll provide all necessary documentation, such as as-built drawings, warranties, and operation manuals. It’s important to make sure the client has everything they need to manage and maintain the new structure.

Post-Project Review

Finally, the project team begins the post-project review. They'll analyze the finished project to see what went well and what could have been improved. 

It’s a chance to gather valuable feedback from the team and the client, which can be used to improve future projects.

an architectural plan
How Design Detail Management Can Help

We've mentioned before that the pre-construction phase is one of the most important stages of a construction project. 

That's because keeping track of all the little things during the design stage can make a huge difference in the overall success of the project.

Here’s how effective detail management can help during the design phase:

Creating Accurate Blueprints

Detail management helps make sure that the blueprints are spot-on and thorough and involves double-checking measurements, materials, and specifications to check if everything is correct.

Accurate blueprints reduce the risk of mistakes during construction, which helps save time and money by preventing the need for costly corrections. 

Plus, it will help the design and planning team create a more accurate project cost estimate.

Coordinating with Stakeholders

Effective detail management in design means keeping all project stakeholders in the loop, including architects, engineers, contractors, and clients. 

For example, the design team can share the construction drawings with the general contractor so that every detail is clear and executable.

By addressing everyone's input, you can see to it that the design meets everyone’s needs and expectations. Such coordination helps prevent misunderstandings and keeps the team aligned.

Identifying Potential Issues Early

Paying close attention to details in the design phase allows you to spot potential issues before they become big problems. 

This includes checking for structural integrity, compliance with building codes, and potential design conflicts.

Catching these issues early helps avoid delays and extra costs during construction.

Compliance with Standards

Detail management helps ensure that the design complies with all relevant standards and regulations, such as local building codes, safety standards, and industry best practices. 

When you focus on compliance from the start, you can avoid legal issues and allow the project to progress smoothly.

Facilitating Smooth Transitions to Construction

When the design phase is managed with attention to detail, it makes the transition to construction much smoother.

Clear, detailed plans and specs make it easier for construction teams to understand and execute the design. This reduces confusion, speeds up the building process, and minimizes the chances of errors.

Spend Less Time Managing Details With Pirros

Work towards project completion without the long and demanding process of detail documentation. 

With Pirros, you can log your design details in one place—one with advanced search, organization, and collaboration features, so you won't have to spend hours searching for every detail you need.

Spend less time on detail management and more time pouring creativity into your designs. Book a demo today!

FAQs About the Construction Process

What is detail management software?

Detail management software helps manage all the intricate details of a construction project, from planning to completion. It ensures that every aspect is tracked, monitored, and executed according to plan, reducing the risk of errors and delays. For Pirros, it stores and tracks all the details in design.

Why is detail management important in construction?

Detail management helps you avoid unexpected costs, ensure high quality, stay on schedule, and improve safety. Construction projects involve a lot of details, so it's important to make sure nothing slips through the cracks.

What are common challenges in construction projects?

Common challenges include delays, cost overruns, supply chain issues, labor shortages, and unexpected site conditions. Effective management and problem-solving skills are crucial to overcoming these challenges.

How do you handle changes to the project scope?

Changes to the project scope should be documented, approved by all stakeholders, and incorporated into the project plan. Proper construction project management helps minimize disruptions and maintain project continuity.

What role does detail management play in reducing project risks?

At Pirros, keeping a tight handle on details is crucial for nipping potential problems in the bud. By paying close attention to every little thing from the get-go, we can spot and sort out issues before they turn into big headaches.

Ari Baranian
CEO & Co-founder of Pirros
Ari is the CEO and Co-founder of Pirros, a detail management system for structural engineering & architecture firms. Before Ari co-founded Pirros, he was a practicing structural engineer working at KPFF where he created the Software Development Group to develop tools that streamline commonly encountered design problems to maximize efficiency and profits. Now, Ari spends his days developing Pirros, web based platform that makes it easy to reference info you need to detail.

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