Potential construction defects can be eliminated early on through sound project management techniques. Here’s one I like to use for private contracts.
The period of time between when a contractor’s bid has been accepted and the signing of the construction contract presents unique opportunities and this “sweet spot” is typically underutilized. This is the period of time when the parties are “happy-happy”—the contractor has won and the owner or PM has identified someone they can work with. Work has not started yet so nothing has gone wrong. This is when the pre-scope meeting should be employed to iron out the expectations of the contractor and whether anything was missed in the bid, as is typically done. However, the pre-scope meeting should also be a technical meeting and key technical people need to attend.
Here is a unique opportunity to really delve into the written specifications, drawings, materials types, installation techniques, construction methodologies, when key construction observations will be made by the PM, input from the manufacturer’s representative during the project, how situations unique to certain trades and products will be handled, and when to expect holding key discussions, to name a few. Yes, these things should have been looked at during bidding, but now a second, even closer look is merited.
This only works if key technical people from the owner’s and contractor’s sides attend though (e.g., architect, engineer, onsite PM, construction supervisors), and, this spirit of open communications will be better maintained throughout the project. In my opinion, most construction defects issues have their roots in bad or missing communications. -Joel Breuer, PE