CRPM: Project Management, Initiation Phase

by Kacey Larsen

The initiation phase of a remodeling project is the first of five phases that a typical remodeling project will move through. In addition to the initiation phase, there is also planning, execution, controlling and closing. Within project management, there is a defined set of knowledge and skills that a project manager (PM) will need to be proficient in; these fall under the following categories: planning, communication, cost management, quality assurance, risk management and recordkeeping. Every phase of the remodeling project will call upon components from each of these areas. This article provides an overview of the initiation phase of project management and the knowledge set used in its application.

As the first phase of the remodeling project, the emphasis is on transforming ideas into a viable project. The phase ends when you receive formal authorization to proceed from the client (i.e. the project is sold). The project will move from the initiation phase to the planning phase, and the PM will begin to work with the team to create a detailed project plan.

What is the project manager’s role in initiation?

The PM should be gathering information needed for decision-making and future planning. This is a good time to establish relationships and confirm a preferred communication method. During this phase, the PM can also review the contract requirements and develop an understanding of what is required and what has potential options associated. The PM may have valuable input based on their knowledge and experience, providing best practices and suggestions on next steps. This can go a long way to reducing risk and managing the client’s expectations. The PM is a tremendous benefit during this phase and should be assigned as early in the process as possible.

Which knowledge and skills will the project manager use?

The following are some activities that the project manager will conduct. They are listed by category.


  • Agree upon the scope and specifications.
  • Review contractual requirements and responsibilities of each party.
  • Assess preliminary staffing needs.
  • Make sure you have the best crew for the project.
  • Rough estimate of time to complete work.



  • Managing expectations, both of clients and internally.
  • Important to work with sales.
  • Communicate risks and trade-offs about options under consideration to client, sales and business owner.


  • Input on scope from architects and designers.
  • Subcontractor/trade contractor options.
  • Supplies/materials preliminarily available and lead times.

Cost management

  • Input into estimates and cost.
  • Understand what sales has promised.
  • Review contract terms related to payment and changes.

Risk management

  • Identify areas of the scope or specifications that could affect the project performance.
  • Suggest part of the work to be defined better before the contract is issued.
  • Recommend ways that have worked in the past to mitigate risks.
  • Keep an eye out to potentially problematic site conditions.
  • Make others aware of appropriate standards and applicable codes/regulations that may apply.


  • Gathering copies of client communication related to scope and requirements.
  • Document authorization to proceed.
  • Obtain final contract.


The initiation phase represents the beginning of the project and can be more or less formal. It establishes the base for scope, risk and, thus, overall project performance. The role of the project manager varies in every organization. Contract types affect how the project needs to be managed. In many remodeling organizations, initiation is led by sales; however, the project manager needs to know the commitments made and expectations set to create a smooth transition from sales for the success of the project. |QR

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