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By: Kevin Budd project close-out

December 28th, 2021

As design professionals, we often consider project close-out first when we are putting together our fee proposal and once again near the end of construction when we begin formalizing the final punch list. It is very easy to allocate the “typical” 3-weeks to the close-out period in our fee, but the time and effort ultimately required for this phase of the project could vary significantly depending on several factors. Some of these factors, like the size and complexity of the project, a building’s age and construction type, and existing regulatory encumbrances, are known at the time we prepare our proposal and should therefore be carefully considered when determining how much time to allocate to close-out. Other factors, like the competency of the selected contractor, magnitude of cost and schedule impacts borne throughout the project, lack of project team continuity, and ultimately the number of unforeseen conditions encountered and design changes required will have to be managed effectively as they arise throughout the construction phase.

By taking a broad view of what is required for project close-out, we can categorize the steps and deliverables into 3 main categories:

  1. Project documentation of the requirements of the construction contract. This would include things like as-built drawings, guarantees, and warranties as well as progress photos, and field reports, and meeting minutes that document the history of the project.
  2. Regulatory sign-off to include items like Post Approval Amendment (PAA) drawings and any DOB forms requiring sign-off.
  3. Financial close-out to document that all financial obligations are settled between all parties and to protect against future encumbrances being levied on the property or against the Owner.

As we start to take a more detailed look at the specific processes and deliverables within each of these broader categories, it becomes clearer that thorough documentation should be the main driver for this, not just at the closeout phase, but from the beginning stages of the project. 

Thorough documentation safeguards against potential risks from future disputes on scope, contracts, warranties, or expectations. It verifies that all project requirements have been satisfied and establishes future accountability for maintenance and warranties. Complete and well-organized documentation underscores the project team’s credibility. Implementing a comprehensive, forward-thinking approach to closeout procedures ensures handing over a completed project with confidence. It also ensures the client is left with the knowledge and resources necessary to maintain any new aspects of their renovation and have full and proper documentation of the work should any problems arise with the construction.

Admittedly, project close-out is not the most challenging or exciting part of a project, but if it is not planned for properly, it could require additional time and resources expended at the end of the project and reduce profitability. Thoughtful planning early on and maintaining thorough, well-organized documentation throughout a project’s lifecycle can set the entire team up for successful project close-out.

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