Before you plunge your shovel into the earth for your new building project, you have many preliminary tasks to complete. While some of these depend on local regulations, the financial and planning preliminaries are crucial if you intend to start and complete the work. These steps apply whether you hope to build a patio for your home or a multistory apartment building.


The preliminaries in construction include thorough planning, a financial foundation, obtaining permits, soliciting bids and preparing the site.

Thorough Planning

Before you start, you need to have an idea of what the finished project will look like. But planning isn't limited to aesthetics; it helps determine the structural soundness of the building. Good planning includes any architectural drawings and a calculation of how electricity and water will get to your building.

Specific items such as flood control and any easements also come into account at this stage. Check with your local building or planning department to find out what you need to consider before you can get permission or even apply for permits to build.

Financial Foundation

You must make sure you can afford to do the work. If you run out of money midway through the project, your partially completed work remains standing and you won't have enough resources to finish or demolish it.

Before you do any work, whether on your own or contracting it out, you need a realistic estimate of costs. This estimate covers costs of the materials and labor, and a thorough one takes several variables into account. Once you have an idea of the price, you may need to borrow money from the bank to finish the project.

Permits to Proceed

You almost certainly need a building permit before you start building, and other permits may be required, depending on local laws and the size and complexity of your project. If your project is large enough, it may go to your town’s planning department or your town council, who will look at whether your project complies with zoning regulations and other standards such as safety or how far it is from another structure. If your larger project goes to the town council, expect a public hearing.

Bids and Site Prep

Once you clear these hurdles, you’re almost ready to start work. You may want to solicit bids from several contractors to get the best price. Make sure your contractor is licensed and insured.

You may have to prepare the site for construction work, including building temporary roads, providing electricity for lighting and power tools, making the site secure, installing portable toilets and wash stations and preparing for trash removal or recycling.