A Guide to the Commercial Construction Process - From Start to Finish

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When constructing a new commercial building, the multitude of tasks can often overwhelm new project managers. Project managers assume the responsibilities for planning, coordinating, and supervising the project from start to finish. Ultimately, project managers must ensure the project stays on budget by completing on schedule, negotiating contracts and supplies, and securing building permits and licenses.

A Guide to the Commercial Construction Process From Start to Finish 1

Fox Blocks presents the following outline designed to help project managers maneuver the commercial construction process. The outline describes six significant steps of the commercial construction process: development and planning, pre-design, design, pre-construction, construction, and post-construction.

Step 1. Development and Planning

Finding a location

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A developer's selection of the location for a new commercial building is one of the first and most important decisions he or she makes for the project. A developer must consider these ten factors before choosing a location for a new commercial building:

  1. The location for commercial construction must consider access to clients and employees and proximity to other buildings.
  2. Verify appropriate zoning for the location of the new construction.
  3. Ensure the location does not have a moratorium on building.
  4. Ensure that the nearby infrastructure can handle the needs of the future business.
  5. Does the area have sufficient fire hydrants and flow to handle a fire emergency at the location?
  6. Verify that the water and sewer lines can handle the needs of the business.
  7. Hire a soil engineer to determine if the building requires piles at the location.
  8. Conduct environmental testing to determine if there is any contamination in the soil. Removing contaminants is very costly.
  9. Hire a surveyor to produce a boundary survey and an elevation certificate for the property, and make sure that the survey shows all easements.
  10. Check and see if the property needs re-platting, which is a long process involving many county departments.

Setting a Budget

Commercial building costs can average from $16 to $20 per square foot. These costs include delivery, building packages, and foundation. For buildings requiring additional finishing such as insulation, average construction costs per square foot may increase to $30 and $40 per square foot.

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Unfortunately, in 2018 and 2019, nonresidential construction costs rose by 5 percent. Most building professionals attribute the increase to product expenses and labor shortages. Fortunately, Fox Blocks ICF wall systems offer a superior solution to rising commercial construction costs.

Fox Blocks Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs) will help commercial contractors reduce building costs by lowering labor and material needs and combating volatile and increasing building product costs. Fox Blocks ICF commercial construction expedites the timeline to completion and occupancy. The buildings also offer long-term financial savings since they create durable, operational energy-efficiency, and disaster-resistant commercial buildings.

Step 2. The Pre-Design Phase

The pre-design phase defines the intentions or goals of the project and establishes the total project cost to a reasonable level of accuracy. Also, at this point, a developer should introduce the architect and general contractor - or, better yet, hire a company specializing in design-build commercial building construction services, which streamlines the process.

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Architects and builders complete the following tasks during the pre-design phase:

  1. Select and determine the cost of the building and design products and required equipment.
  2. Determine the overall size and function of the rooms.
  3. Determine the building’s orientation to utility connections and development covenants to ensure a feasible project.
  4. Determine if the project can include the client's desired amenities. Factors like utility connection, site access, and building orientation can impact the compatibility of amenities with a construction project.
  5. Create contract documents to establish a project timeline.
  6. Set the costs of each phase of construction.
  7. Contractors and architects should create a construction document package with code-compliant designs.
  8. At this point, construction bidding can begin.

Step 3. The Design Phase

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The design phase produces a full set of drawings with final specs that contain costs and timelines for each stage of construction. Contractors use the drawings and final specs to construct the building. The design phase involves other professionals besides the architect and builder:

  1. Structural engineers take responsibility for structural design.
  2. Mechanical engineers handle the air-conditioning and plumbing plans.
  3. Electrical engineers decide on the electrical design and layout for the project.
  4. Commercial projects require a civil engineer for drainage, parking lot design, and connection to the nearby infrastructure.
  5. Buildings with 3 or more stories require a threshold inspector to conduct structural inspections during the construction phase.

Step 4. The Pre-Construction Phase

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Before beginning construction, contractors must complete several, sometimes time-consuming steps:

  1. Obtain the Building Permit
    1. Submit the plans to the building department.
    2. The building department may issue comments on the plans.
    3. After complying with the comments, the building department will issue the building permit.
  2. Obtain Insurance
    1. Builders Risk Insurance
    2. Commercial and Contractor General Liability Insurance
    3. Workers’ Compensation Insurance
  3. Obtain Bids from Vendors
  4. Establish a Construction Team
    1. Project Manager
    2. Superintendent
    3. Contract Administrator
    4. Field Engineer
  5. Procurement
    1. The general contractor manages the procurement phase of securing all the building materials and services required to begin the construction project.

Building with Fox Blocks offers advantages with few sub-trades and possibly lower insurance rates.

Step 5. The Construction Phase

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  1. Site Preparation:
    • Implement drainage to building code
    • Excavate site
    • Lay utilities
    • Arrange power, water, and sanitation
    • Remove vegetation
    • Construct temporary storage facilities
    • Begin inspections: structural, building code, utilities, HVAC, electrical, etc.
  2. Foundation
  3. Framing
  4. Roofing, Siding, HVAC
  5. Interior
  6. Exterior
  7. Landscaping.

Step 6. The Post-Construction Phase

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Upon completion of the project, the contractor and client will walk through the structure and create a punch list. The punch list identifies unsatisfactory components of the construction that need further attention before officially completing the project. After completing the punch list, the building may obtain a Substantial Completion certificate, and a building official can perform the final inspection.

Constructing a commercial building requires many steps and good communication and collaboration between numerous professionals to ensure the project stays on budget. Selecting building products that enhance the efficiency of the building process, like Fox Blocks ICFs, can help contractors and commercial building developers save both money and time. Moreover, energy-efficient, disaster-resistant, durable, and low-maintenance Fox Blocks ICFs provide value add and lower the long-term expenses of a commercial building.