Client Relationships are critical to the successful completion of any project. Open and continuous communication during all phases of a project whether it be preconstruction, construction or close out makes the difference between a successful and a potentially rocky project.
A very critical point in the project where a contractor needs to work closely with our customers is the turnover stage of the project. This is an exciting time when the customer is poised to take his project and begin operating a new facility. It is also a time when they are filled with anxiety and overwhelmed by the magnitude of things they must do once they take the project. They have to hire employees, fixture the building, learn and understand what we have built for them and how it works, they may have licensing to deal with, they may even have a whole different operating company coming in to run their facility that they need to acclimate to the project and they have a huge investment that will not be able to return income to them for quite some time as the project fills up. With this level of pressure and insecurity on our customer’s side, it may be understandable why completion and turnovers can be tense and have their difficulties. It is our job as building professionals and client advocates to make this transition from construction to owner-occupied project a smooth one.
What can we do to make this a smooth transition?
As I said earlier, Communication is key. Stay close to your client and inform them when you will be ready and when they can begin to start their transition into the building. Perform your punchlist early and focus on signoff early to prevent disagreements over damage to the building when fixturing starts. Performs training with the owner’s personnel and video tape the systems training for future reference. Help your owner deal with the licensing or other inspections which they may need to obtain after our completion.
Inevitably there will be items discovered after a turnover that was not part of the punch list that should be attended to quickly. Handling owner requests for changes to the project after we are done and helping them to work directly with subcontractors can ease the burden on us to be on site and let our owner know we care and will help them to complete their building so it can function as they need it to serve their clients.
Our client’s success in starting up their new project will result in continued opportunities and their recommending us to others. It’s important for contractors to do their best to make our project turnovers the smoothest and best part of the building experience for our clients.
Peter Douglas, P.E.
The Douglas Company
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