CRECP No Comments


Receiving a new set of construction documents marks a crucial phase in any high-value commercial real estate project. How you start can significantly impact the entire construction process, from timelines to budgets. Proper planning and organization at this early stage can streamline the project, helping to avoid costly mistakes and ensuring a smoother journey from blueprint to building. In this guide, we’ll explore key steps to take when you get your hands on these vital documents, setting you up for success in your complex construction endeavors.

Understanding the Scope:

Thoroughly reviewing the construction documents is the first step to grasping the full scope of your project. These documents represent the blueprint for your entire construction endeavor. By studying them carefully, you gain a comprehensive understanding of what needs to be done and can identify potential challenges as well as cost saving opportunities early on.

Key elements to look for include architectural documents, which detail the layout and design of the building, structural documents, which show the framework and support systems, and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) documents, which outline the critical systems. Each of these components is crucial to the overall functionality, core and unit efficiency, maximization of unit counts, space allocations for tenants, manufacturing floor space, parking and accessory space and safety of the building, making it essential to pay close attention to detail during this initial review process.

Organizing the Documents:

Once you’ve reviewed the documents, the next step is to organize them for easy reference and navigation. This step is crucial, as it can save you time and prevent confusion down the line. One way to organize the documents is to use advanced digital tools such as project management software or cloud storage solutions. These tools allow you to store and access the documents from anywhere, making collaboration easier for large, geographically dispersed teams.

Another option is to organize the documents physically using binders or folders. Label each binder or folder clearly with the project name, document number, and revision date. This way, you can quickly locate the documents you need without having to sift through piles of paper. Whichever method you choose, the key is to establish a system that works for you and your team, ensuring that everyone can access the documents they need when they need them.

Organizing the documents is critical for tracking changes pre and post contract signing with a developer, construction manager, general contractor and their subs. Your contracts will be based on the latest contract documents included in the exhibits attached to your contract. Change Orders such as cost increases, credits and schedule extensions or reductions will be based on what was reflected in the documents included in the contract in addition to the language of the contract.

Assessing the Building Core and Shell:

In addition to structural and environmental assessments, evaluating the existing building core and shell is crucial in determining the feasibility of an office-to-residential conversion. Factors such as floor heights, column grid spacing, natural light and air considerations, as well as the locations of existing mechanical and electrical risers, stair cores, and façade types, must be thoroughly evaluated. These considerations help confirm whether the building is a good fit for conversion, impacting everything from design to overall project costs.

Identifying Critical Path Items:

In construction project management, the critical path is the sequence of tasks that determines the shortest possible duration for the project. Critical path items are those tasks that, if delayed, would directly impact the overall project timeline.

Understanding the critical path is crucial because any delays in these tasks will result in a delay in the project’s completion. By identifying critical path items early on, you can prioritize these tasks and allocate resources accordingly to ensure that they are completed on time.

To identify critical path items, review the construction documents and project schedule to determine which tasks are dependent on others and which have the most significant impact on the project timeline. Once you’ve identified these items, focus your efforts on ensuring that they are completed on time to keep the project on track.

A simple example of critical path logic is that the concrete slab must be completed before the interior wall partitions can be framed. Similarly, the permanent electrical power must be energized before final electrical inspections can be signed off. The construction manager and developer may implement strategies within the schedule to expedite construction, such as overtime work for concrete placement, accelerated interior framing, or early temporary electrical services to provide the site with temporary power for contractor use. However, critical elements must be completed first, and any delays in these key tasks will result in delays to the overall project timeline.

Having a clear understanding of the construction documents will enable you to identify key tasks that you can discuss with the builder. This understanding is crucial when reviewing their means and methods for completing your project on time and within budget constraints.

Reviewing Different Sets of Construction Documents:

The construction process involves multiple stages of document development, each with its own purpose and timing for review:

  • Sketches and Concept Designs: These initial drawings provide a rough outline of the project’s vision and are typically reviewed to ensure that the conceptual ideas align with the overall project goals.
  • Schematic Design (SD) Documents: These documents develop the concept further, outlining the basic spatial relationships and overall form. Review these to ensure the project’s fundamental design aligns with investor expectations and regulatory requirements.
  • Design Development (DD) Documents: At this stage, the design is refined with more details on materials, systems, and dimensions. Thoroughly review these documents to confirm all design decisions and to start preliminary cost estimates.
  • Permitting Documents: These documents are prepared for regulatory approval. Ensure they comply with local building codes and regulations to avoid delays in obtaining necessary permits.
  • Bid Set Documents: These are used to solicit bids from contractors. Review these documents to ensure they accurately reflect the project’s scope and quality requirements.
  • Construction Documents (CD): These detailed documents include all specifications needed to construct the project. A final comprehensive review is crucial to ensure all aspects are covered, preventing miscommunications and change orders during construction.

A critical process during each review phase is the coordination among the various design disciplines. The project architect, engineers, and design consultants are responsible for ensuring that all design elements included in the documents comply with the latest building code requirements. They take the lead in making sure everything fits within the project constraints. The construction manager or general contractor reviews the documents at each issuance and performs a detailed examination to understand the documents, work through estimating, delineate scope, and develop the critical path schedule. They uncover constructability concerns and issue RFIs (requests for information) to the design team for any discrepancies they find.

A simple example of this would be a building column shown on the structural drawing located directly in the middle of a pool shown on the architectural drawing. Such errors are not uncommon. They often arise due to the skill level (or lack thereof) of the design team, insufficient communication between designers, the use of different drafting tools that do not communicate with each other, and the speed of drafting requirements.

The next set of reviews, which we always recommend be conducted concurrently with the construction manager’s review, are the developer’s and owner’s representative’s reviews. These redline reviews are critical for ensuring a clean set of documents is issued to the construction manager and its trades for pricing prior to executing a contract. This process is also valuable for identifying value engineering and cost-saving opportunities. If documents have already been incorporated into contracts and you are investing midway through construction, you can still redline the documents and course correct during construction to eliminate inefficiencies or resolve problems before the workforce is mobilized to install those problematic elements.

Investor Considerations for Early-Stage and Stalled Projects:

Early-Stage Investments (Pre-Development and Pre-Permit Phases):

  • Feasibility Studies: Conduct thorough feasibility studies to assess the potential of the project, including market demand analysis, financial projections, and risk assessments.
  • Due Diligence: Review initial planning documents, zoning regulations, and preliminary design concepts to ensure the project is viable and aligns with strategic investment goals.

Investments in Stalled Projects:

  • Project Viability Assessment: Evaluate the current status of the stalled project, including a detailed review of existing construction documents and progress reports to identify completion status and remaining work.
  • Due Diligence: Conduct a thorough due diligence process to assess the reasons for the stall, such as financial, regulatory, or logistical issues. Develop a recovery plan that includes timeline adjustments, budget reallocations, and strategic interventions to get the project back on track.

Role of an Owner’s Representative:

Hiring an owner’s representative is a strategic move that can significantly benefit your construction project. An owner’s representative serves as your advocate throughout the construction process, ensuring that your interests are protected and that the project is completed to your satisfaction.

One of the key roles of an owner’s representative is to interpret the construction documents. They have the expertise to understand the technical aspects of the documents and can help you make informed decisions based on their interpretation. This can be especially valuable if you are not familiar with construction terminology or processes.

Additionally, an owner’s representative serves as the liaison between you and the project team. They coordinate with architects, contractors, and subcontractors to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that the project is progressing according to plan. This coordination is crucial for avoiding delays and ensuring that the project stays on track.

Overall, an owner’s representative plays a vital role in ensuring the success of your construction project. Their expertise and experience can help you navigate the complexities of construction and ensure that your project is completed to your satisfaction, on time, and within budget.

Coordinating with Team Members:

Effective coordination and communication with the project team are essential for the success of any construction project. Once you’ve reviewed the documents and identified critical path items, the next step is to collaborate closely with your team to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Share the documents with relevant team members, including architects, engineers, contractors, and subcontractors. Encourage open communication and regular meetings to discuss progress, address issues, and make decisions. By keeping everyone informed and involved, you can prevent misunderstandings and ensure that the project stays on track.

Additionally, consider using project management tools to facilitate communication and collaboration. These tools can help you track progress, manage tasks, and share information easily with your team, ensuring that everyone has the information they need to do their job effectively.

Developing a Plan of Action:

With a thorough understanding of the construction documents, organized materials, and a clear understanding of critical path items, it’s time to develop a detailed plan of action. This plan will serve as your roadmap for the construction project, outlining the specific steps you need to take to move from the planning phase to completion.

Break down the project into manageable tasks, assigning responsibilities and setting deadlines for each task. Consider factors such as resource availability, budget constraints, and potential risks when developing your plan. By taking a proactive approach and addressing potential issues early on, you can minimize delays and ensure that the project stays on track.

Regularly review and update your plan as the project progresses, making adjustments as necessary to accommodate changes or unforeseen circumstances. Communication with your team and flexibility in your approach will be key to successfully executing your plan and completing your construction project on time and within budget.


Starting a new construction project with a solid foundation is key to its success. By understanding the scope of the project, organizing the documents, identifying critical path items, and coordinating with your team, you can set yourself up for success. Hiring an owner’s representative can further enhance your project’s success by providing expertise and ensuring that the project stays on track.

Remember, effective planning and communication are essential throughout the construction process. By developing a detailed plan of action and regularly reviewing and updating it as needed, you can minimize delays and ensure that your project is completed to your satisfaction, on time, and within budget.

By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can navigate the complexities of new construction documents with confidence, knowing that you are well-prepared to tackle whatever challenges come your way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *