Managing renovations in-house: the outline

By Matt Anderson, CSFM and Amy Fouty, CSFM

Over the years we have been involved in many different types of projects that require varying degrees of time, money, and resource. Whether you are doing a small project or a stadium build for the Olympics, successful renovations planning and execution follow a strategic pattern. We created the following outline from a presentation we gave at the STMA National Conference this past January.


  • Big Picture/Strategic Planning
    1. Discuss Master Plan with senior administrators
    2. Discuss Program needs with sport administrators and coaches
    3. Determine priorities for each sport area
    4. Deciding if Renovation is Major vs. Minor
      1. What is driving the need to renovate?
      2. Major
        1. Total reconstruction
        2. Addresses major issues
  • Minor
    1. Corrects minor problem
    2. Could be Operational, Agronomic or Cosmetic
  • Define the Stakeholders
    1. Who needs to be involved in the planning process?
      1. Turf Manager
      2. Internal- Coach, Administrator
  • External- contractors, Architect, consultants, and engineers
  1. Suppliers- Vendors and donations
  1. Discuss ideas and components
    1. Objectives
      1. What is driving the change
    2. Scope
  • Approvals
    1. Who has final say?
  • Define Responsibilities
    1. What can you contribute?
    2. What is my staff capable of?
      1. Have to understand strengths and weaknesses
        1. Technical ability/ knowledge
        2. “We want to think we CAN do it all…question is SHOULD we?”
      2. Do I need subcontractors?
        1. Does the project require specialized equipment?
          1. Survey
          2. Laser grade
        2. Are the tasks labor intensive?
          1. Sod install
          2. Irrigation install
  • Analytic services
    1. Soil testing
  1. Who else needs to assist/ be involved?
    1. Trades
    2. Parking
  • University Communications
  1. University Planning
  1. What about Specs?
    1. Project Scope and Size will determine if spec needed
    2. Does organization require specs?
  • Does bid process require specs?
  • Plan the Project
    1. Process should not be rushed
    2. Define the “List”
      1. Wishes vs. requirements
        1. Good idea to prioritize things so cuts are easier to decide on
          1. Communication with stakeholders is CRITICAL during this step
        2. What is best “bang-for-your-buck”
      2. Define the “Budget”
        1. What is source of funding?
          1. Sometimes project is defined, then funds raised to complete
          2. Sometimes budget is set, then project designed to fit funding
        2. Cost/budget estimate
          1. Accuracy is important
          2. Can be time consuming
          3. Don’t estimate low
  • Plan for a 10-15% contingency funds
  1. Project Schedule
    1. What are deadlines
  2. Identify Materials needed and sources
    1. Procurement Rules can make this challenging
    2. Availability and lead tie needs to be considered
  • Don’t forget to account for Freight and Delivery costs
  1. Make sure plan is clearly communicated to all stakeholders
  • Define the Schedule
    1. Work schedule
      1. What is the hard deadline?
        1. What are key milestones
      2. What is the sequence of events?
        1. What can be flexible
        2. What can happen simultaneously
      3. Identify peripheral needs
        1. Permits
        2. Staging areas
  • Access to site
  1. Haul routes
  1. Resources needed
    1. Rental equipment
    2. Material lead time
  2. Sub-Contractor schedule and availability
  • Review
    1. Review all aspects of schedule with stakeholders
    2. Get final approval from decision makers
  • Communicate
    1. Address any questions or concerns
    2. Define expectations following project
      1. Use concerns
      2. Maintenance impacts
    3. Important to keep people in the loop
  • Execute

Comments from Matt Anderson, CSFM

In my experience, communication is the key to everything. It is listed as number seven on the list, but really it is a critical component of every single step in the process. I’ve had projects hatched from a simple conversation where an issue or need was clearly communicated. I think it is important to be honest and upfront when communication the needs of your facility. Sometimes people might not want to hear that thousands of dollars need to be spent, but that doesn’t change the fact that there is an issue to be resolved. You need to put forth the best possibly solution and let the conversation unfold from there.

Another comment I would make involves the decision-making and planning process. This cannot be done in a vacuum. It is critical that everyone with a stake in the project has a chance to be heard. There will be many different perspectives on what is important and what the priorities are. You need to have a civil and honest discussion to ensure everyone is on board. You should always be open to hearing the ideas, concerns and comments from others. When people have inputs from different perspectives it can be helpful in making sure no details get missed. We always try and ask to see what other projects may be on the horizon at or near a facility we are planning to work on. A lot of rework can be avoided if simple things (like dropping a conduit or sleeve in the ground) are discussed and added into your project. When we renovated our softball field a couple years ago, a conversation with the project manager for a new clubhouse allowed us to coordinate a water line installation through the field with minimal disruption to either of our projects.

Comments from Amy Fouty, CSFM

I do not think that you can discount the importance of building relationships and trust with those you work with. Over time, communication, and the trust and understanding that evolve, will enable you to become more active in the decision-making processes of your organization. Our particular skill set as sports turf managers are highly specialized and very different from the other operations within your organization. I have always felt it was my responsibility to educate those around me about what I do, so that they understood the complexity and wide variety of skills needed by the sports turf manager to create what they see on game days. We are a piece of a greater operation and need to be active in discussion for the organizations success.