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Closing Out a Construction Project, by Corinne Maddox, CCM, CFM

It is sometimes said that the last 5% of any project requires the same effort as the first 95% - this can be true of construction. The construction closeout period, if not done properly, can be the undoing of the efforts and good work of the first 95% of the project. Proper project closeout ensures the orderly and timely completion of the project, including development and completion of punchlists, commissioning and training, warranty periods, assembly of project documents, resolution of outstanding issues, and analysis and settlement of claims or disputed issues. Punchlist completion usually requires multiple surveys to confirm completion status. Commissioning includes startup, calibration, systems integration, system database and software development, operation and maintenance training, and certification of the facility, equipment and systems. Assembly of final project documents should include "as-built" drawings, shop drawings (from subcontractors and vendors), manufacturers' literature, operating and maintenance manuals, and warranties, as well as all project contacts, records, contracts, meeting minutes and correspondence. For major projects, the requirements for this phase should be spelled out in great detail in the construction specifications and contract. It is generally not easy to complete the closeout. Consultant and contractor team members become reassigned to other projects and few have the time or tenacity to struggle with subcontractors to finish the last items. The most common and most effective method to successfully closeout any project is to withhold the final construction payment until all items are received and all issues are resolved to the owner's satisfaction.

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