A construction project’s life-cycle, from conception of idea till final demolishing or restructuring the project, can be majorly divided into three phase namely pre-construction stage, construction stage and post-construction stage. The Pre-construction stage of the project usually starts with a need-base for the project, which is further followed by identification of objectives of the projects, undertaking feasibility study, finalising outcomes of the project, etc.
The pre-construction stage of a construction projects have to be very carefully dealt with; because this stage forms the basis for offing of the project. The most basic considerations that is required to be factored into pre-construction planning shall be the current and future market demand of the project. We have a number of construction examples that have been a great success from the start of the concept itself till the construction and as well as during the operation and maintenance stage and still there is an unending demand for the same. One of the best example that can be given for such great success is Delhi Metro. Whereas, there are also many projects which started with great concept to address the market demand, which were constructed but lead the way to project’s failure such as Mumbai Monorail. Both the projects were well planned, successfully constructed and successfully operated; but one led to success while the other led to failure. Inference that we get from the comparison of the above two highly anticipated projects is that the pre-construction activities for the successful project has met the expectation or exceeded of that of stakeholders, achieved financial feasibility and forecast consideration as per the assumptions, whereas the failed project’s pre-construction activities did not meet the expectations of stakeholders and forecasting of financial feasibility were not considered realistic or practical.
Pre-construction planning for any construction project is much more important than any other phase of project we discussed above. During construction phase, the stakeholders are aware of the construction outputs, which was well defined and finalised during the pre-construction phase. Hence, the unknown elements or objectives for the project, is reduced during construction and hence the lesser impact of risk from change in scope or design of the project. However, construction phase is affected by other dynamic risks and uncertainties during the execution phases. Due to various technical advancement in construction processes and stricter norms for health, safety and environment, proper adherence to good practices can easily mitigate the risks during execution stage. Furthermore, during the operation and maintenance stage of the project, the project is totally completed and has to be maintained till the designed life span, which has been also finalised during the pre-construction phase of the project.
The stage which remains the most uncertain and unclear in the entire life-cylce of the project is the journey from concept stage to actual finalisation of the project scope; to processes and design for materialising the identified scope of the project. To be more specific, the pre-construction stage is where the success of the project is pre-determined even before the execution has begun. Proper planning, strategy and risk identification are a crucial part for this stage to make the project achieve its objectives of cost, quality, time and sustainability. The difference of a one degree deviation may not be much for a one meter straight line, however for a one kilometre straight line the same deviation cause thousand times the difference and effect is multifold. Same is the case with effects of pre-construction planning stage on the entire life-cycle of the project. Even a small deviation from the original assumptions considered for the project, can determine the fate of the entire project. A project may start with the pre-construction planning stage, but whether it will see the completion of the pre-construction stage, or the construction stage or the maintenance & operation stage totally depends upon the successful planning of pre-construction phase and the implementation of the same as well.
The aim of the pre-construction planning stage is to identify the output expected from the conception stage, whether the output can be achieved, and if so then preparing the strategy outline or framework for stakeholders’ approval, after approval the detailed design programme with expected cost and time frame and a sustainable life span of project is estimated before procurement process for the construction of the project is started. Furthermore, promising new technologies such as Building Information Modelling, Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain will transform the way the pre-construction planning is put through in current scenario. Adoption of such technologies is bound to create a huge demand for new skills in the built environment sector, with focus and expectation of ethics in the professions at a pinnacle level in pre-construction planning stage. This slow but steady trend of shift for importance into early planning of project, shall drive the success of future sustainable built environment projects in the world.