Project Closeout – what’s all the fuss


Our Vision of the Completed Visitor Center

Closing out a project and turning it over to the owner is the final moment that every project works towards. It’s a celebratory event where all parties can say to each other “job well done.” It’s accompanied by ribbon cutting, christening, food, beverage and proud moments of fellowship. Well, that’s the ideal path. But it seems that closing out a project is not always a simple procedure. There’s a lot to accomplish in the final weeks and days. So FSB agreed with the contractor that we would make bringing the project to a timely and smooth closeout a focused and determined joint effort.

To give you a sense of the work involved, FSB dedicates a full specification section to project closeout titled “017700 Closeout Procedures.” within this specification there are 4 other related specification sections referenced (Execution, Operation and Maintenance Data, Project Record Documents, Demonstration and Training) along with all specifications in general as individual product and system specifications will identify closeout items specific to that product. The Closeout Procedures specification discusses 4 main topics:

  • Substantial Completion Procedure
  • Final Completion Procedure
  • Warranties
  • Final Cleaning

It seems very straight forward; the first and most significant step in the process being Substantial Completion. I thought I would take a look at what the web has to offer on the subject.

  • Why is Substantial Completion so significant?, “No milestone in a construction project is more significant than substantial completion” starts an article by Construction Pro on construction law.
  •  Substantial Completion on the Construction Project: How is it defined?, “Substantial completion is another one of those “terms of art” that lawyers love” cites Construction Law in North Carolina.
  •  USLegal weighs in with “Substantial Completion Law and Legal Definition”.
  •  Ever Wonder What Substantial Completion and Punchlist Really Mean?, “It was discovered that there does not appear to be a uniform understanding on what the terms “Substantial Completion” and “Punch List” mean” states the Capital Projects Office of the University of Washington.

The majority of the web entries were focused on the legality of it all. Wikipedia takes the definition back to its legal roots where the term started as “substantial performance” before morphing into Substantial Completion. This whole thing coming from legal beginnings is starting to make sense of why it is so hard to get a grip on this stage of a project.

  • From the land where the great profession of law has significant roots comes the
    following; “The certificate of making good defects is now referred to as the ‘certificate of making good’ in the new JCT ’05 suite of contracts. Once practical completion has been certified, the defects liability period begins (now called the ‘rectification period’ in Joint Contracts Tribunal (JCT) contracts). Typically, the defects liability period is six to twelve months” from DESIGNING BUILDINGS WIKI a site for clients, practitioners and students in the UK. That certainly helps clear things..
  • Boiled Architecture’s philosophy of providing a hard boiled approach to giving you more building and less drama clarifies the difference between Substantial Completion and Final Completion with a decidedly legal spin. They cater to owners, architects and general contractors. I’m not much of a fan of boiled anything let alone architecture.
  • AIArchitect begins an article titled Substantial Completion, Where Art Thou? with the following “The hallmark of successful project delivery is substantial completion. It is a milestone that can bring reward and satisfaction, or it can be the source of frustration and discord. It is sometimes elusive and difficult to achieve, can be complex, and is often viewed with very different expectations by members of the project team. Substantial completion is the brass ring for which everyone reaches; the Holy Grail that is diligently pursued.” At least I think I understand what’s being said here.

Why all this hoopla? Let’s just “get ‘er done.” The following is FSB’s list of items to be completed by the contractor before requesting inspection for Substantial Completion:

  1. Prepare a list of items to be completed and corrected (punch list), the value of items on the list, and reasons why the Work is not complete.
  2. Advise Owner of pending insurance changeover requirements.
  3. Submit specific warranties, workmanship bonds, maintenance service agreements, final certifications, and similar documents.
  4. Obtain and submit releases permitting Owner unrestricted use of the Work and access to services and utilities. Include occupancy permits, operating certificates, and similar releases.
  5. Prepare and submit Project Record Documents, operation and maintenance manuals, final completion construction photographic documentation, damage or settlement surveys, property surveys, and similar final record information.
  6. Deliver tools, spare parts, extra materials, and similar items to location designated by Owner. Label with manufacturer’s name and model number where applicable.
  7. Complete startup testing of systems.
  8. Submit test/adjust/balance records.
  9. Terminate and remove temporary facilities from Project site, along with mockups, construction tools, and similar elements.
  10. Advise Owner of changeover in heat and other utilities.
  11. Submit changeover information related to Owner’s occupancy, use, operation, and maintenance.
  12. Complete final cleaning requirements, including touch-up painting.
  13. Touch up and otherwise repair and restore marred exposed finishes to eliminate visual defects.

Substantial Completion for the Chickasaw Visitor Center is now anticipated to occur between August 1st and 15th, 2013.

The following comic by John McPherson posted on the site of the Capital Projects Office of the University of Washington/Finance & Facilities may say it all

Comic By John McPherson posted on University of Washington/Finance&Facilities site

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