Capital projects can be complex endeavors. They require an immense amount of planning, strategizing, and coordinating from conception to closeout. (And take note: Capital projects are NOT the same as Capital Campaigns. More on that in future blog posts.)

The first stage of a capital project is referred to as pre-construction and this is where the foundation of a successful project is laid. At the beginning of the pre-construction stage, the Owner assembles a team of project managers, architects, engineers, and in some cases a construction manager. This is the team that will work together to bring your project from concept to completion. As Project Managers we may be a little biased, but we believe the Owner’s Project Manager should be engaged as early as possible in the process.

In short, the role of the Project Manager is to advance your capital project while allowing your staff to focus on your organization’s core mission. In the very early stages your Project Manager can help your organization build a preliminary project schedule and help you assemble a design team that is a good match for your project. Then, as your project team develops they can help you determine the best Project Delivery Method (PDM) for your project. (PDMs will be the subject of an upcoming blog post.)

Other activities that take place during pre-construction can include (but not limited to):

  • Design charrettes with stakeholders

  • Determining permitting requirements and submitting permit applications

  • Establishing a project schedule

  • Design, including Conceptual, Schematic, Design Development, and Construction Documents

  • Producing detailed budget estimates at strategic points along the design path

  • Providing continuous updates to stakeholders

Depending on the scope and scale of your capital project, the pre-construction stage can take months, and, in some cases, years. That may sound daunting, but the time, effort, and focus that is applied during the pre-construction stage will go a long way to ensuring your project is successful.

Follow along with our “Stages of a Capital Project” blog series on our website at

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For any organization, a capital project reflects a belief in the future of that organization, and the desire to address its ever-changing needs. Investments of this scale always bring challenges, including clearly identifying the need, allocating resources, and assembling a project team - all before an architect draws a line or a single shovel of dirt is turned over.

Before pursuing a capital project it is important to consider all the components involved. Why is this project necessary? What are the goals of this project? Is funding in place for this project? What is the scope and cost of this project? How long will it take to complete?

Sometimes the project need is clear, other times it is more elusive with multiple approaches possible or diverse interests to manage and fulfill. The first step for the Owner, often in collaboration with consultants, is to establish the Owner’s Project Requirements (OPR). After that, it is essential to establish the budget, and then reconcile the OPRs with the budget. This is the beginning of the first stage of a capital project, often broadly referred to as pre-construction.

Once the OPRs are clearly established, the Owner is ready to proceed with building out the project team to take the next steps in bringing the project to fruition.

Follow along with our blog series, “Stages of a Capital Project” starting with the first phase, pre-construction on our website at In this series we will break capital projects up into the three primary phases: pre-construction, construction, and project close out. Pre-construction is an extremely vital phase to ensure that all of the proper planning is in place before construction begins.

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Over the years that we have been in business, we’ve heard variations of this question dozens of times. Fundamentally it’s really a very good question and one that we are happy to answer. Sometimes the best answer is another question. Here are a series of questions that project owners might want to ask themselves when starting to put together their project team:

Do you have the knowledge and experience required to manage all of the details of a construction project?

Do you have a project team? If so, is there one person on your team whose sole purpose is to watch out for the Owner’s interests?

Do you have the time and/or expertise to manage all of the details of a construction project?

Do you know how to determine the best project delivery method for your project?

Do you have the data and experience to produce detailed and accurate budget estimates?

Do you know how to determine, without a doubt, if a contractor is qualified to build your project?

During construction do you know what to look for and what questions to ask to ensure good quality and contract compliance?

Do you have the experience and time to make sure the contractors have met all their obligations and the project is closed-out properly?

If you’re a homeowner contemplating a project do you have the expertise and time to manage your project and still leave time for family and work obligations?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you may need an Owner’s representative / Owner’s Project Manager.