Right from the Start: Conducting a Quality Pre-Construction Meeting

Norb Slowikowski / June 2018

I had the great opportunity of presenting a program on the benefits of holding pre-construction meetings to minimize risk at AWCI’s Convention & Intex Expo in March. This article covers the significant parts of the presentation. Everyone who has a role in the construction process should know about running pre-construction meetings, so here are the highlights.
Have you ever heard this job myth? We’ve got so many jobs to do and things are moving so fast that we don’t have time to plan. Or this one: Once we have a plan, so many changes occur while the job is progressing that the plan becomes useless.
In my view, those two statements are excuses from people who don’t want to monitor the job correctly.

It’s hard work to pay attention to all the details in a job, but if you have the proper systems and processes in place, things will move in an organized, efficient way. If you don’t start the job on the right footing, then you’ll find yourself in trouble as the job progresses. A thorough pre-job construction meeting is the best kickoff to any size construction job.
In my communications with drywall contractors over the years, this is what they revealed as their biggest concerns when they attend a pre-construction meeting with the general contractor:

  • Understanding the “needs” versus “wants” of both parties.
  • Schedule and scope expectations.
  • Building a relationship of trust and sharing core beliefs.
  • Provide key technical information and key contractual requirements and expectations known from the start.
  • The subcontractor’s responsibilities to the general contractor, and vice versa.
  • The general contractor’s paperwork requirements.
  • Importance of a job organizational chart.

You need to identify what your concerns are, what you want to accomplish and your plan for the job.
All of this should be introduced in the pre-job construction meeting.

Schedule the Meeting
First, the project manager contacts the GC to request and schedule the meeting two weeks before job start date. Be sure to state the purpose of the meeting and who should attend.
The subcontractor’s attendees are the PM superintendent, foreman, safety manager, estimator, project engineer and warehouse coordinator. The GC’s attendees are the project manager, superintendent, safety manager, etc. (Who is Etc.?)
Agree on the date, time and location for the meeting. Make a good impression by having all pertinent information to sell yourself and inform the GC about who you are and what you’ll deliver.

Prepare for the Meeting
The subcontractor should conduct an internal meeting with the key players prior to the pre-construction meeting. Review the following items:

  • Team member roles.
  • An organizational chart.
  • Contractual responsibilities and review of plans and estimate.
  • Discuss job sequence. Focus of manpower.
  • Have timelines in order with key deadlines. Review the GC’s schedule.
  • Discuss setup of the job cost input sheet.
  • Identify and discuss real and potential challenges.
  • Discuss jobsite logistics (e.g., parking, location of trailer, location of tools and equipment etc.).
  • Prepare a client contact list of phone numbers and email addresses for all key players.

Identify the GC’s Pet Peeves
These are some typical GC pet peeves:

  • Lack of preparation and planning.
  • Quality control.
  • Schedule delays.
  • Lack of safety readiness. (What are the rules?)
  • People relationships not a high priority.
  • Poor communication.

You need to impress and reassure the general contractor at each stage of the job.
When you align expectations with the general contractor through a well-planned pre-construction meeting, you will develop a win-win relationship and minimize risks that include disorganized job sites, hazardous job situations, higher insurance premiums and a negative image in the industry that causes you future work.
A pre-construction meeting that is set up and run correctly allows you to create a collaborative process for problem-solving. This will empower you to resolve any job dispute or obstacle that might come up during the day-to-day work on the job.
Next month we will continue with key technical information for job startup.

Norb Slowikowski is president of Slowikowski & Associates, Inc., Darien, Ill. To contact him, email norbslow2@gmail.com.