How to make a construction plan: a step-by-step guide

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 28 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A construction plan is a set of documents that show the stages of a construction project from start to finish. The plan usually includes the details of the build, the resources for the project, its schedule and its budget. A well-written plan is crucial for the success of a construction project, helping project managers to deliver the project on time and within its budget. In this article, we explain how to make a construction plan, share the five stages of the construction process and review the key elements involved in a construction plan.

What is a construction plan?

A construction plan is a guide that shows professionals how to complete a construction project. The plan includes an outline of each step of the project, the resources required to deliver each stage, budgets, timelines and project teams. This type of planning document is a crucial part of the construction process because it carefully maps out the complex processes and stages involved in almost every construction project. The construction plan can ensure that all project elements remain under control. A well-written construction plan also substantially increases the potential success rate of a construction project.

Related: How to become a construction manager: a step-by-step guide

How to make a construction plan

It's usually the project manager's responsibility to understand how to make a construction plan and compile one for every project. You can follow this step-by-step list to create your own:

1. Learn the 5 parts of a construction plan

The plan is typically made up of several documents that you can use at different stages of the project to ensure it remains on course. It's important to take the time to create each document and carefully map out each process at the conception of a construction project. Here are the documents you can create for your construction plan:

  1. The scope document: The scope document outlines the objectives, features and deliverables of the project. It explains the overall aim and the steps to take for the project to succeed, including the milestones to achieve along the way.

  2. The task breakdown structure: This document lists the deliverables of the project and details all the work activities required to meet these deliverables. The structure breaks down the project into a series of achievable milestones that helps with organising the workforce and other resources.

  3. A communication plan: The communication plan outlines the communication process throughout the project. It involves defining goals and objectives for the project and outlining how you plan to deliver on them.

  4. A risk management plan: The risk management plan is a critical element of the construction plan. It ensures that you can thoroughly assess all risks before commencement and establish whether the project is safe to proceed with.

  5. A visual plan: The project plan also includes visual projections and renderings of the project that project managers can share these with stakeholders, local officials, and, if necessary, the press to help them visualise the project before commencement. These visual aids are a crucial element in helping the project gain support and traction.

Related: A guide on how to become a construction project manager

2. Define the project

At the outset of the project, the first stage of the planning process is to define the project. This stage involves clearly establishing the purpose and objectives. Project managers may consider the details of what they intend to build, the purpose of the building and what it can achieve to determine the crux of the project. The project manager identifies the relevant stakeholders at this stage and details how they're going to execute the project.

3. Write the business case

Each construction project requires a sound business case that outlines why the project is a good investment. Construction projects require a great deal of funding and investment, but they can provide a strong return on investment for stakeholders. The purpose of the business case is to persuade investors that the project is both necessary and viable from a business perspective.

Related: Types of civil engineering jobs and their primary duties

4. Create an outline of project activities

The project manager may outline the project activities using an activity breakdown structure, which helps project managers visualise the different stages of the project. This detailed analysis includes information on the different tasks to complete at each stage of the project and the milestones that indicate your progress. The outline of activities is a detailed document that provides a guide for project managers and contractors to use for the duration of the project.

5. Designate resource allocations

Once you've defined each element of the project activities, the next stage is to allocate the resources that the project team and contractors require to complete the work. This can include building materials, tools and equipment. The resource allocation may also include references to the workforce required to carry out the project.

Related: Types of construction contractors (with requirements)

6. Develop budgets

A detailed budget is essential to ensure project costs don't spiral out of control. To create a construction budget, project managers determine estimates for the costs of each stage of the process, including the costs of the materials and equipment required. The project manager closely monitors the budget throughout the project and may review it for unexpected challenges that increase costs.

Related: How to become a construction estimator: a step-by-step guide

7. Set schedules and timelines

The project schedule outlines the deadlines for construction of the project, all the way through from start to finish. It includes all the main milestones and breaks down each stage in detail so that the project manager can prevent delays. The schedule also includes significant information about key dates for ordering supplies, details of when specific contractors are likely to be working on-site and the dates of planned inspections and tests.

8. Seek construction permissions

Once the project has been fully scoped and outlined, the project management team seeks the necessary permissions for the project. The permissions depend on a variety of factors, including the scale and type of development, the location and any local restrictions relating to matters like the conservation status of specific areas. The project can't proceed until identifying and applying for the necessary construction permissions and getting them approved. This stage of the project can take several months, and the exact timeline depends on the local authority to review, process and award the necessary permissions.

Related: How to become a site manager: salary qualifications and skills

9. Select the project team

To complete the final part of a construction plan, select the project team and appoint contractors to carry out the work. This team includes a project manager, who oversees the project, various consultants and numerous contractors who work on the site itself. The consultants include a wide range of designers, engineers and architects. The on-site construction team typically includes site managers, supervisors, contractors and subcontractors within various specialist fields. These expert skills include bricklaying, plumbing, electrics, roofing and joinery. The project team may also include suppliers who play a pivotal role in the construction process.

5 stages of the construction process

The construction plan is just one stage of the construction process, with each construction project generally following the five established phases of project management. The five stages are as follows:

  1. Project initiation: The project initiation stage is the first step of any project management process. It includes determining the overall scope and objective of the project—what you're trying to build—and outlines the stakeholders, resources and expected budget.

  2. Planning stage: The planning stage maps out each element of the project, setting clear goals and milestones along the way. The planning stage includes creating a detailed work schedule, defining the activities and tasks for completion and determining success metrics to judge the project against.

  3. Execution phase: The execution stage involves assigning contractors and carrying out the construction activities. Project managers oversee the construction process to ensure contractors successfully follow all stages of the plan.

  4. Monitoring and quality assurance stage: Alongside the execution of the project, project managers monitor the work done to ensure the project stays on track. Project managers also ensure the build meets predetermined quality standards throughout.

  5. Conclusion and evaluation: Once the team completes the build, the project manager closes out the project and conducts an evaluation. This evaluation identifies areas that went well and any areas for improvement in future projects.

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