The construction of a new athletic field is an expensive project. You may have waited many years for the budget to afford the undertaking. Your involvement in, and management of, the project can greatly affect the outcome and costs.

Tips for a successful field construction experience

The construction of a new athletic field, of any type, is an expensive project. You may have waited many years for the budget to afford the undertaking. Your involvement in, and management of, the project can greatly affect the outcome and costs.

Hopefully a qualified sports field Contractor has been selected and hopefully a design that will produce success has been specified as well. Regardless, it is still up to you to ensure that the project is built correctly and to the specifications. Take the time, now, before the project commences to outline your management procedures. Speak with the Contractor to determine their normal operating practice and combine practices to achieve the optimal result. Above all, let the Contractor know that you will be on site every day and do it.

Some basic management procedures required for success

Exchange contact information. Determine the Contractor’s chain of command; who will you correspond with, who do you contact first, who will/can make decisions? Share the same information with the Contractor from your side. Be certain to include cell phone numbers. Remember, construction is not a 9 to 5 job. There may be times when you are needed for a rapid response that are outside of your normal working hours. Waiting for a reply can delay the job and the Contractor for hours. Expect the unexpected and make certain that the procedures are in place to deal with such events in a timely manner to mitigate the impact to the project.

Require a project schedule. Ask where the float is; ask how the Contractor has accounted for weather delays. As an example, the Contractor’s schedule may be based solely on a 5 day work week. Saturday then is open to become a workday that can be implemented without increasing the project duration.

It is fair and smart to disclose information unique to the project to the Contractor such as the high volume traffic times, is there an event planned that will increase traffic. A large volume of material is required for the construction of an athletic field. This means a lot of dump trucks rolling in and out. Ask for advance notice of large delivery days, work together to ease the impact to your institution and the Contractor’s schedule. Unless the site has its own construction entrance with ingress and egress, anticipate some disruption, be realistic and try to remain flexible.

Determine the frequency of progress meetings. Be aware, though, that each time a meeting is held, the Contractor or his representatives are off the job site. Where will the meetings take place, who will attend, who will take the minutes and record them for distribution? The meetings don’t have to always be formal but there must be distributed minutes that include open issues, action items, closed issues, schedule changes, trade conflicts and the like. An agenda will help make certain that all items are covered. Lunch meetings at the site where food responsibility is switched back and forth between the Owner and Contractor are both pleasant and minimize the time the Contractor is off the project. And yes, the minutes are still written and distributed.

The most important procedure to put into place is the requirement of a daily log. This document will become the project record, a means of communicating, a method for tracking materials, the reason for delays or change orders, a history of weather and site conditions and so forth. The log should include the weather conditions and site conditions. The rental equipment and Contractor owned equipment that is on site should be recorded. The Contractor’s personnel as well as any Subcontractors should be listed. The day’s goals and the actual work completed should be in detail. Any problem areas should be recorded; it’s a heads up for you. The recording of deliveries and visitors as well as any testing keep you in the loop and becomes a calendar of progression. Include space for the next day’s work goals. The preferred practice is to have the Contractor send the previous day’s log the following morning. This will assist you in keeping on track with the project and with what to expect for the day. Insist upon it and read it.

All this before the project even starts? Yes, and it will pay off in the end.-By Sally Ziegler, Chief Estimator/Project Manager, Alpine Services, Inc.,