The process of construction is complicated, stressful, and almost always hectic. Anything can happen during this process, extreme weather can directly damage a building under construction and/or hold up the job for months or years on end. Legal and zoning changes can completely break the feasibility of even the most well-thought out building. Even the most experienced commercial contractors will be faced with unforeseen problems. 

Why have “phases” of construction?

The best way that we have of dealing with the unknown, is to plan. This process involves breaking the entirety of the building process down into concise and separate steps. Every construction contractor has a slightly different philosophy on how its done. Some contractors will break the whole process down 4 or 5 phases. Other contractors will break down the entirety of the process into 6 main phases, each separate from the others. Regardless of how the construction process is organized, it will be broken down into distinct parts. This helps with the overall flow of the project, and with everyone completing their own specialized job. It also helps with knowing when to increase investment, change plans, or cut and run, in the case that a project is found to be no longer feasible.

For this guide, we have broken down the construction process into 3 main phases, with the sub-steps listed and described in each phase. 

Phase 1: Pre-construction

This phase is arguably the most important step of the whole construction cycle. It largely determines the outcome, scope, and feasibility of the project.


This is where the owner of the business comes up with the idea in the first place. This stage is also where the broad strokes of the project are determined. Will it be a completely new construction? Will it be a remodel or renovation of an existing structure? What kind of business are we talking about – a movie theater, restaurant, office building, factory, or something else? This phase can take weeks, months, or even years, and is placed almost entirely in the hands of the business owner.


Once the project has moved out of the ideas only stage, concrete steps can be taken to make it a reality. At this stage, the owner will start to bring more people into the project. She/he may contact an architect, a design firm, financial consultants, and/or commercial building contractors. The feasibility, including costs, potential revenue, scope, legality, and logistics will be analyzed during this step. This is also the step where a project may be canned altogether, as its feasibility or scope may simply not be  a possibility.


Now that the project is deemed feasible, it’s time to get down to brass tacks. During this stage, many outside parties are brought into the project. The specifics are also wrought out. Contractors will bid on the project. Material sourcing will be planned, legal and permit requirements will be figured out, and the business owner may want to attract more investors to the table. Among the most important parts of this phase are:

  • Project timeline
  • Budget
  • Size and scope

Contracts and legality

Once everything has been figured out, it’s time for the documents to be signed. The following (or more) should be decided upon and most likely have contracts:

  • Architect
  • Construction contractor 
  • Independent contractors (electrical, plumbing, etc.)
  • Permitting and zoning
  • Materials suppliers
  • Project manager
  • Investors and/or stakeholders

Once contracts are signed, and everyone is ready to go, the pre-construction phase finally comes to an end.

Phase 2: Construction

Here is the actual building process. This phase sees the first shovel in the ground to the grand opening of the new building. Unlike the last phase, which can be broken down into distinct subsequent steps, this phase sees several things happening at the same time.


The contracted building company will bring equipment, personnel, and building infrastructure to the location. Depending on how the location status before construction begins, this could be anything from surveyors to heavy equipment. Preplanned logistics will be put in action that will determine the delivery of goods, equipment, and necessary personnel to the site.


While building is in process, the project must be closely watched. During this phase, the construction project manager will carefully observe the following:

  • Timeline adherence. Is the project going according to plan? There should be existing policies from the planning period to decide what to do if the project is behind schedule.
  • Budget adherence. Is the project controlling costs? Big problems can happen if costs are out of control.
  • Safety and zoning laws are being followed.

In order to ensure that everything goes according to plan during the building phase, good communication and collaboration are vital for every role. Once all construction is complete, and the building is ready to be used, it’s time to move on to the last phase.

Phase 3: Post-construction

Finally, time to start making money. The end of construction and beginning of a business.

Final hand-off

Once the construction is complete, then the contractors and building owner will officially make an agreement handing it off to the business owner. Contractors aren’t completely done at this point however, as often the building will be under a warranty for various purposes. 


This step actually continues throughout the end of the construction phase. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say it begins again in a different way in post-construction. Once the project has become an active business, it still needs careful observation. First and foremost, it needs to be ensured that the building’s services, utilities, and amenities work. These parts include electrics, HVAC, insulation, etc. There should be a part of the contract decided during pre-construction that details what steps to follow in case that something fails. Corrections that need to be made immediately after construction will be compiled into a punch-list which must be completed. Once all immediate fixes have been made, final payment is arranged.

Do you construction the right way

Reliable Commercial Construction has over 35 years of experience in the field, and knows how to get things right the first time. Contact us today to get your project started.