10 Project Closeout Tips


man writing on paper, next to laptop

Tocci considers 10 key project closeout tips

Project closeout is typically thought of as the last phase of the project life cycle – before the Owner utilizes the project for its intended purpose. Common examples of project closeout documents include, but are not limited to, record drawings, special or extended warranty statements, operational and maintenance (O+M) manuals and owner / system training sessions.

Generally, the project closeout process consists of administrative or procedural requirements which are set forth in the project’s contract documents (or plans and specifications).

Since the majority of project closeout documents reside with subcontractors, or suppliers, on typical construction projects, general contractors and construction managers must manage the completion of these requirements concurrent to the completion of the remaining work activities. For that reason, project closeout can be seen as the job within the job.

Here are 10 project closeout tips to consider:

  1. Start the project planning process early in the project lifecycle. List out all contractual requirements or deliverables on the submittal schedule at the beginning of the project. Assign these requirements to the appropriate subcontractors, or suppliers, for their review and action.
  2. Write the specific project closeout requirements into the scope of each subcontract or purchase order agreement in order to assure contract compliance.
  3. Negotiate the appropriate values for project closeout requirements on subcontractor’s and supplier’s ‘schedule of values’ breakdowns in order to provide a financial incentive for them to complete these requirements.
  4. Pre-punch work areas as early as possible. Formal mock-up reviews are an invaluable way to establish the acceptable level of work quality before completing significant portions of the project scope. Also, make the best use of project management software packages to individually track punch list items to formal acceptance.
  5. Check the process of recording ‘as-built’ or record drawing information throughout the construction phase. Many times, the general contractor or construction manager will maintain a clean set of drawings in the field office for recording ‘as-built’ information and posting design directives which alter the contract documents. Subcontractor ‘as-built’ records should be checked on a monthly basis, concurrent with the requisition review process, in order to assure compliance.
  6. Submit advance operation and maintenance (O+M) manuals early for design team and owner review. These manuals should be considered a formal submittal requirement and be submitted for design approval. The final versions of the O+M manuals can be issued with copies of all test reports and system information at a later date.
  7. Submit specific training agendas for design review prior to the scheduling of owner training sessions. Complete the start-up of all systems and instruction of the owner’s personnel in the proper operation and routine maintenance of systems and equipment. Since training sessions are commonly videotaped for future reference, a detailed agenda is key to providing clear and concise instructions.
  8. Submit special or extended warranty statements for design review concurrent with the submittal process. Since manufacturer’s warranty language may vary from the terminology with the architect’s technical specifications, warranty statements should be approved in advance of the closeout phase. Following the determination of a substantial completion date, final versions of the special warranties can be provided at the end of project closeout.
  9. Submit attic stock or spare parts listings for design review. Spare parts lists are commonly included in O+M manuals. Maintenance or attic stock listings should be determined in advance of project closeout and conform to the requirements of the contract documents. In some cases, attic stock requirements for certain building materials may be specified as a percentage of the materials required on the project. Material listings should be signed off by the Owner to confirm receipt of these materials. Care should be taken to prevent attic stock materials from being used to complete punch list repairs. Further, since available space may not exist on site, owners should anticipate their storage requirements for all attic stock and plan accordingly.
  10. Plan for the final transfer of all closeout documents. In many cases, it may make more sense to provide the owner with multiple flash drives for project closeout documentation, rather than numerous sets of three-ring binders. Discussions should occur in advance to confirm how the transfer will occur. Also, the final closeout documents should include a subcontractor / supplier listing for the owner’s reference.

A streamlined project closeout process benefits all project team players and, when properly completed, can result in better customer relations and repeat business. Lastly, don’t forget to celebrate your successes!