Construction requires both macro and micro planning to stay on budget and on schedule. Learn how to design efficient checklists that your whole team can use.

Construction Project Checklist - To-Do Items, Steps, Processes

No matter the scale of your build, construction projects are a significant undertaking. This means planning is imperative. Construction project checklists can be a lifesaver.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • The impact of poor productivity on the construction industry
  • Recommendations for increasing productivity (hint: communication)
  • Job site safety concerns
  • Three types of construction project checklists

Our goal is to leave you with action-items for integrating powerful construction project management checklists into your build routines. These documents can leave a positive impact on how your job sites run.

What Do the Numbers Say?

Based on data from 2015, the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that poor productivity in the construction industry cost the global economy USD $1.6 trillion a year. That’s right, a trillion.

The Global Institute differentiated between large-scale and small-scale players. According to their research, teams working on heavy-duty civil and industrial work were generally 20 to 40 percent more productive than teams working on smaller projects, like single-family home renovations.

To combat this, McKinsey recommends companies over-invest in planning. They explain that many companies regularly implement 30-, 60-, and 90-day plans, but struggle with managing the construction process’s short-term planning. The thing is, micro plans are super helpful to ensure that a project’s upcoming few days will run smoothly.

How can you incorporate short-term plans into your job site? Construction project management checklists are one option.

Checklists can mobilize a team’s planning and get enough eyes on a list of tasks to ensure that all your bases are covered.

Construction Project Checklist: How to Make A Micro Plan

Picture this: it’s Monday morning and you’re headed to the job site. Your team is completing a full basement gut and remodeling with a one-month turnaround. Week one went well, and everyone is feeling good. You get to the job site in a great mood, until you meet with your team. No one’s on the same page. Everyone heard something different about today’s schedule. The week ahead looks confusing and unproductive.

It’s to be expected that construction projects will hit bumps in the road. However, implementing micro plans can minimize their frequency.

You can think of these plans as mid-project punch outs. Like closeout checklists, they deal with the immediate rather than the long game. Micro plans can be short (two or three-day) action steps that keep the energy moving forward.

For example, you can create a micro construction project checklist for a screened-in porch build that’s part of a larger home renovation project. It could look like this plan from Family Handyman:

Day One

  • Build the deck square
  • Install the joists and decking
  • Remove overhang and siding where the porch will be

Day Two

  • Build the trusses
  • Frame the walls
  • Brace the walls
  • Install the trusses

Throughout the project, subcontractors will need to get much more than a screened-in porch built. Those two days are just a small portion of their project.

However, being specific about action steps they need to take in their upcoming week can ensure that their project stays on schedule.

Providing workers with an outline of what needs to get done each day can make long-term goals easier to understand in the short-term, and therefore more achievable.

woman in gray tank top and blue denim jeans sitting on bed
Image source: Roselyn Tirado

How to Communicate with Homeowners

If you’re regularly working with homeowners, we have some residential construction advice: focus on creating a communication plan!

Your customer will be more likely to understand budget and time constraints if you take the time to walk them through the process. Checklists are a simple bite-sized way to do this.

Construction Project Checklist: The Six Phases

Average home and business owners will be unfamiliar with the rhythms of construction projects. If you are completing renovations for them, it’s important to translate technical language into terms they can understand.

After all, they’re the ones funding the project. You don’t want to leave them in the dark.

If building owners are well-informed about realistic goals and timelines for their project, change order frequency should decrease. That’s a budget win for all stakeholders.

Consider outlining the phases of construction in a checklist to distribute to relevant stakeholders unfamiliar with the industry. We’ve outlined these six phases below in easy-to-understand language for your homeowners’ convenience.

1. Pre-Design

During the pre-design phase, project participants take their ideas and fit them into the project’s budget and time constraints. To-do items in this phase include:

  • Defining reasons the project is needed
  • Determining project requirements
  • Settling on project financing
  • Submitting a project for review

2. Design

The design phase is the time for all building plans to get ironed out. Key players in this phase will depend on the scale of the project. Some renovators may work with design firms. Others may keep it simple and collaborate directly with the construction team. Design to-dos can include:

  • Reviewing and finalizing designs
  • Discussing what kinds of contractors the project requires
  • Approving the design
  • Approving the budget

3. Document Development

Phase three is when it’s time to draw up technical build documents for subcontractors. This will ensure that they know exactly what they’re doing on the job site. Homeowners can likely take a step back during this phase, since they’ve already approved the designs. To-do items here include:

  • Creating detailed construction drawings
  • Determining the necessary equipment
  • Beginning to draw up bid documents

4. Bid Process

Once all the documents are created, it’s time to assemble the team. Depending on the size of your project, you may already have enlisted the skills of several contractors. The bidding process is how this all happens. Basically, contractors let homeowners know how much the job will cost. Then, it’s time for:

  • Reviewing bids
  • Deciding who to hire
  • Finalizing contracts

5. Construction

This is the fun part! Once plans are finalized, budgets are in place, and contracts are signed, project participants can get to work. The to-do items will depend entirely on the nature of your project. For a kitchen renovation, it could include items like:

  • Removing existing light fixtures
  • Wiring and installing new lighting
  • Removing old cabinet doors
  • Painting and installing new cabinet doors

6. Occupancy

Homeowners might not want or be able to stay in their building while construction is in progress. That is, until the occupancy phase. During this phase, project participants may continue to address items on the punch list (the project’s final to-dos), while residents move back in. Action items may include:

  • Coordinating residents’ move back into the space
  • Addressing the punch list
  • Closing out the budget

Homeowners’ Peace of Mind

Consider customizing the above list for the next home renovation project you do. When homeowners are satisfied, close out will be easy, and payment can be finalized in a snap.

Strong construction communication might seem unnecessary now, but this solid foundation will go a long way, especially in mitigating potential future issues.

person holding black smartphone
Image source: Luis Villasmil

Subcontractor Safety

Additionally, checklists can be an effective tool for ensuring worker safety.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration team (OSHA), “5,333 workers died on the job in 2019.”

When OSHA inspects worksites, the top ten safety violations they note include:

1. Fall protection, construction
4. Scaffolding, construction
5. Ladders, construction

This means that problems at construction sites account for 60% of the OSHA’s top five workplace safety violations. Addressing these issues would greatly increase the well-being of all subcontractors participating in your projects. Improving construction safety on your site should be a top priority.

Consider creating safety checklists to ensure that all your project participants take the proper precautions at all times. Beyond keeping your workers healthy, preventing accidents will help keep your project on schedule and on budget.

Construction Project Checklist: Safety Goals

The first step to creating a safety checklist for your construction project to determine what areas are relevant to your team. Are you fixing a roof? Demolition precautions won’t apply. How about gutting a basement? Then scaffolding standards are likely irrelevant for this project.

However, when it comes to safety, over-planning is better than under-planning. If you’re not sure whether a topic applies to your build, go ahead and add it in case.

Here, we’ll cover standard safety precautions that WorkSafeBC recommends putting in place on construction sites. Our goal is to provide you with a checklist skeleton that you can build on to fit your next project’s needs.

Training Workers

  • Did you provide workers with any and all types of information, supervision, and instruction they will need to safely and successfully complete a project?
  • Did you ensure that all subcontractors received this training?

Assessing Hazards

  • Did you ensure that workers will be able to remain above the minimum distance from electrical conductors?

Demolishing and Renovating

  • Did you check for hazardous materials like asbestos, mold, and flammables?
  • Did you create a hazard assessment report and make it available on site?
  • Did you stabilize walls, chimneys, stairs, and rails?
  • Did you disconnect electrical, gas, and water services?
  • Did you safely remove glass?
  • Did you ensure that no materials will fall or be thrown into access points?

Mitigating Chemical and Physical Hazards

  • Did you develop procedures for using, storing, and disposing of chemicals? This could include substances like glues and coatings.

Supplying First Aid

  • Did you create a supply of first aid for workers to use on site?
  • Did you develop and distribute first aid procedures?

Providing Personal Protective Equipment

  • Did you ensure that all workers have the proper footwear and clothing?
  • Did you mandate that workers wear eyewear (when necessary)?
  • Did you mandate that workers wear headgear (when necessary)?
  • Did you ensure that workers have access to and use respirators if there is asbestos or silica dust present on site?

Conserving Hearing

  • Did you ensure that your subcontractors receive yearly hearing tests?
  • Did you provide workers with proper noise-cancelling devices when necessary?

Excavating and Other Underground Service

  • Did you have an engineer evaluate your project if you are doing excavation work?

Ensuring Electrical Safety

  • Did you talk to workers about the limits of approach for electrical components?
  • Did you inspect electrical cords and discontinue use of broken ones?

Clearing Access Points and Securing Ladders

  • Did you ensure that elevated walkways are over 20 inches wide?
  • Did you carefully cover and guard openings in the floor and/or roof?
  • Did you check that all ladders are in good condition?
  • Did you secure ladders to prevent slipping?

Creating Sturdy Scaffolds

  • Did you ensure that project scaffolding is up to code?

Using the Safety Checklist

You won’t need to attend to each item for every single project you do. It’s all fully customizable.

However, you will need to cover the basics–like training, first aid, and clearing access points–on every project you complete. Even for low-stakes projects. Accidents happen, but when your team is trained and properly supplied, you can minimize the damage.

How to Distribute an Effective Checklist with Rivet

Creating checklists is all well and good, but how can you efficiently distribute them to all your project stakeholders?

Don’t worry, we’ve thought of this! Printing and passing out papers is time-consuming and unreliable. Typing up and emailing lists is better, but digging through your inbox for a list you need immediately is inefficient.

We’ve built a construction app that addresses these common communication problems. Here, we’ll outline a few ways you can use Rivet to distribute construction project checklists, from safety to micro plans to homeowner explanations.

Let’s get started.

Construction Project Task List

If you’re looking to create and distribute a classic checklist directly within an app, that’s an option on Rivet.

It allows users to manage daily to-dos with the help of one of our tools. There are a few unique capabilities that may help keep things moving, and create a clear record for communicating with clients.

First, tasks, or task lists, can be easily created with just the task name, and returned to later to organize, assign, and add details. Tasks can be free of organization, added to a project, or added to a project channel. When you add a task or task list to a project or channel, all members of that area will be able to view it. So, if it’s not organized, only you and whomever you add can see it. If it’s added to a project, all project members can see it. If it’s added to a channel, all channel members can see it. This allows clients to see what’s coming, without being bombarded with reminders.

Second, tasks, or task lists, have a handful of helpful features, like due dates, assignees, attachments, and customizable reminders that get sent out via text message or email for people who are not on the Rivet app.

Finally, all tasks have the ability to comment and add pictures, videos, or files. Many teams use this as a mechanism to organize before and after photos to better track progress and create a record. It can also be used to request status updates, provide plan any plan changes, or simply converse about a specific thing in a place where you can easily get back to that conversation later.

Construction Project Checklist Channel

If your team's to-do items are constantly in flux, you may prefer to organize convos about checklists in a project channel. This way, members can ping last-minute items and questions back and forth, all in one centralized location. Gone are the days of sifting through old texts and emails to figure out what’s happening on site.

You can add any project members relevant to the conversation to this channel. Some teams may choose to add homeowners to these to-do list channels so that they can get live updates on their project without frequently emailing workers.

Construction Project Checklist Hub

Items like safety checklists will require less constant tweaking. Construction project managers can create a new safety list or customize a pre-existing one from another project. Then, they can upload this document to the project info hub on Rivet.

This hub is a catch-all for critical site information that all project participants should be able to access at the touch of a button. It can include almost anything you want. The most popular types of information builders and contractors using the app today add are:

  • Job site address
  • Lockbox codes
  • Project contact information
  • Links to plans
  • Links to selections
  • Permit numbers
  • Safety checklist

No matter how involved in the build project participants are, there will be details relevant to them in the project info hub. And adding them in the hub saves everyone time.

The purpose and importance of the checklist

In their article, “The Information-Related Time Loss on Construction Sites: A Case Study on Two Sites,” Sheng Xu and Hanbin Luo found common reasons for wasted time on construction sites. Poor communication was a major cause, stemming from:

  • Information errors (issues in translation)
  • Blocked paths (chain of command dictating communication)
  • Specialized expression (technical lingo blocking understanding)
  • Reluctance to collaborate (interpersonal conflict)

Issues like these often have their roots in poor communication systems. For example, exchanging information with multiple parties through text and email can leave some project participants in the dark about what’s going on.

Additionally, this long chain of communication can work like a game of telephone, leaving important information mottled and incorrect at the end of the communication chain.

By organizing your build with construction project checklists and storing them in Rivet for everyone to access, you significantly reduce the chance of communication breakdowns. This can also help ensure worker safety and boost homeowner’s understanding of technical construction processes.

Once these important details and checklists are ironed out, you can get to the fun stuff, like making your customer’s vision a reality.

At Rivet, we aim to create tools that make communication easy between all members invested in your project–from contractors to homeowners. For more information, you can call us. We’re happy to answer your questions!

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