by Nick Ganaway
November 2, 2011

payments, what supporting documentation is required, the amount of retainage to be withheld and the number of days the owner is given to make payment to you after he receives the required documentation.

If receipt of your payment is in doubt, you should be prepared to file a lien on the property the project is located on. Placement of liens is very technical and almost always requires an attorney, but before starting any project, you should at least be aware of any pre-construction notice requirements and the time limits pertaining to filing liens as prescribed by law. Lien laws vary from state-to-state. The AGC’s State Law Matrix provides state-by-state lien law details (as well as information on contractor prequalification requirements and other information important to contractors.) Consult your construction attorney well in advance of the deadline to file any liens.  

The Pre-Startup Checklist below includes a number of responsibilities applicable to a typical construction project. This becomes a valuable tool when specific project requirements are added.

Construction Project Pre-Startup Checklist

Legal & Administrative

  •     Owner-contractor agreement signed
  •     Owner financing verified
  •     Written notice to proceed from the owner
  •     Cost codes/schedule of values to bookkeeping
  •     Construction schedule to all parties
  •     Pre-construction lien rights notice to owner
  •     All contracts distributed in-house and to others
  •     Owner's billing requirements and forms
  •     Supplier/vendor purchase orders issued


  •     Business insurance in place (CGL, WC, etc.)
  •     Job-specific coverages in place
  •     If Builders Risk by Owner, is policy received?
  •     If Builders Risk by GC, is policy received?
  •     Subrogation waiver by all parties

Plans & Specifications

  •     Contract dwgs./revision nbrs. verified

Licenses & Permits

  •     Secretary of State registration
  •     State/local general contractor license
  •     Business license
  •     Building permit/inspection card in hand
  •     Permit dwgs. received
  •     Demolition permit
  •     Environmental permit
  •     Other permits: ________________________
  •     Easements
  •     Municipal bonds


  •     Contact info for all subs and vendors
  •     Subcontracts signed by both parties and delivered
  •     Billing requirements to subs
  •     Subs' original Cert. of Insurance per spec
  •     Subcontractor bonds
  •     Pre-construction meeting with subs and vendors
  •     Temporary Facilities and Utilities
  •     Office trailer
  •     Storage trailer
  •     Dumpster
  •     Toilet
  •     Electric (temp. power pole installed/inspected)
  •     Telephone
  •     Broadband Internet service
  •     Water
  •     Undrgrnd util. located (Call Before You Dig)
  •     Other_____________________________


  •     Soils report
  •     Erosion control
  •     Property corner pins placed by owner
  •     Corner pins verified by contractor
  •     Elevation benchmark established by owner
  •     Benchmark verified by contractor
  •     Site/grading plan verified to existing conditions
  •     Testing firm hired

Local Accounts Established

  •     Building materials/lumber
  •     Concrete
  •     Hardware
  •     Tool rental
  •     Temporary labor 

This is not an exhaustive list. Revise according to requirements of the project at hand.

Moving into commercial construction can be very rewarding, but like any other transition, it must be done with due planning and attention to detail.

Disclaimer: This article offers general guidelines for use in the complex and risky business of construction. Consult the appropriate professional regarding their use in any specific situation.

Construction Business Owner , January 2008