Ensuring Success in Facility Renovations: 5 Expert Strategies by GBA Builders

GBA Builders has historically specialized in completing construction projects inside existing critical environments. These construction projects are typically inside active facilities. These facilities cannot be shut down or disrupted during construction. Construction projects in these environments are challenging and leave no room for mistakes.

Critical environments, such as hospitals, introduce several other factors project managers and superintendents must manage, including facility age, owner input, facility staff and patient safety. Assembling the right team with the proper knowledge and experience is an essential factor in how successful a project can be. Success can be defined differently depending on a person’s view or the project’s scope, but there are several ways to ensure a project is successful in both the owner’s and contractor’s view.

Define Success:

You must know the owner’s priorities to achieve success. Ensuring your definition of success compliments the owner’s definition is critical to success. The owner’s idea of success may be more than just keeping the project on budget and on time. Each owner stakeholder may have different priorities. Depending on the type of construction, the owner may be concerned with air quality, pressure management, utility interruptions, impacts on patient services, noise or vibration. Make sure you understand what is most important to them. Incorporate any owner-required tracking or monitoring during construction.

Effective communication:

Project success depends on the project team’s ability to communicate effectively with all types of people, including clients, facility staff and subcontractors. The project team should be able to express their ideas clearly and concisely, listen actively and provide feedback. Regular communication must begin with all stakeholders as early as possible. Listening and understanding each stakeholder’s concerns and addressing them well before construction starts is vital to managing expectations and keeping the project on schedule. In turn, communicate stakeholder concerns to your trade partners. Any critical project conversations must be well documented and distributed to the entire team.

Experience and strong leadership:

Managers should be able to lead their teams effectively by setting clear goals, managing project finances, providing direction, identifying project risks early and leading the team to mitigate those risks. Projects will be completed more effectively if the project team is brought in during the design phase. Their knowledge and constructability experience can be invaluable if the project is phased or in a critical facility area. Experience also brings the ability to identify missing scope items and address them early before the budget is set. Experienced project managers know the typical issues that arise while working in an active facility and put in place measures to keep typical issues from affecting the duration of the project.

Detailed scheduling:

Project teams must be able to plan and schedule projects thoroughly by defining project scope, identifying tasks and maintaining the project’s critical milestone dates. Equipment and material lead times are driving project schedules more than ever. Contracting and securing these items early and identifying them in the schedule is an essential part of building a schedule. The overall schedule must outline all major milestones identified by the owner, each start and end date for each project phase, substantial completion and closeout periods. Project managers and superintendents will use a look-ahead schedule to supplement the overall schedule. This look-ahead schedule is an in-depth look at what trades will be on-site and what they will work on over the next few weeks. It also identifies any items the owner needs to provide or any major shutdowns coming soon. The look-ahead also assigns accountability to each trade to ensure the next few weeks’ worth of trades and materials are coordinated and ready to start when it is time. When necessary, teams must take corrective action to get the project back on schedule. Discussing the look-ahead weekly with the owner and stakeholders will keep them updated on the construction progress and manage project expectations.


Surprises and issues are inevitable in projects. Project teams must adapt to changing circumstances by being flexible, creative and resourceful. They should also be able to manage change effectively by communicating changes clearly and managing owner expectations.

Project management on a project is not easy, but having a project manager who uses the five approaches above to manage assignments will help ensure success. Typically, winning a project with a new client takes a lot of work and investment up front. Your success during construction will lead to future projects and a long relationship with the client.

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