Ground-Up Construction: What is it and What Should I Expect?

There are many types of commercial construction projects, each with unique benefits. Understanding your options can help you decide which is right for your needs. 

This blog post will specifically look at ground-up construction and provide details to help you know what to expect with your project.

What is Ground-Up Construction? 

Ground-up construction is when a building is constructed from undeveloped land. Unlike a renovation or expansion project, this land is bare, with no previous buildings to demolish or remodel. 

Ground-up construction takes place in a series of step-by-step phases, beginning with planning and designing and ending with construction. 

The Process and 5 Steps of Ground-Up Construction

All construction projects require careful planning. The project manager must find the right resources and equipment, determine the timeline and budget, and meet various other complex requirements. That is all before any work begins. 

This is phase one of many construction projects. Let’s break down the five phases of construction:

Phase 1: Pre-Design (Project Initiation) 

The first phase of a construction project is pre-design. During this phase, project managers and their teams evaluate the requirements, objectives, and overall feasibility and set the budget. 

This is one of the most important phases because it allows investors and stakeholders to assess the project’s risks and benefits. It also provides a good basis for carrying out every aspect of the project.

Phase 2: Design (Pre-Construction) 

The next phase is the pre-construction or design stage. During this time, detailed plans for the building’s design (blueprints) are drawn up, and all details are finalized. Costs will also be estimated and evaluated to help ensure the project is carried out within scope. 

At this stage, the design development work is essential for sourcing equipment and materials during the procurement process.

Phase 3: Procurement

During the procurement phase, materials, equipment, and services are effectively sourced, purchased, and transported using the preparations made in the design phase. Additionally, all essential team members and contractors are hired. 

Depending on the project’s scope, it may be necessary to hire subcontractors, especially if special services/skills are needed for the build.

Phase 4: Construction 

Finally, construction begins. The construction phase is the pivotal stage in ground-up construction, where architectural designs transform into physical structures. It starts with site preparation, lays the foundation, and progresses through framing. 

Then, the necessary HVAC and electrical systems are installed before enclosing the building. After the outside walls are up, the final interior work begins. The facade of the building completes the outside before the finishing touches of the landscape occur.

Throughout this phase, key considerations include:

  • Maintaining safety standards.
  • Ensuring quality control.
  • Managing the project timeline efficiently.
  • Keeping costs within budget.

This phase is complex as various trades and professionals work together to bring the envisioned structure to life.

Phase 5: Post-Construction (Closeout)

The closeout phase is the final step in ground-up construction. The project manager will ensure all work complies with project specifications through inspections and addressing any punch list items. 

It also involves finalizing documentation, such as warranties and maintenance guides, and completing financial settlements. This phase is critical for a smooth transition to the building’s owners, marking the project’s successful completion and readiness for occupancy.

Challenges to Expect With Ground-Up Construction


Like any construction project, there are challenges to be aware of. Budgeting is one of the biggest concerns. Many circumstances could arise, throwing a project off budget. Budgets must be carefully allocated for all resources, and it is important to have contingency funds available should issues arise.

Zoning and Permits

Another common concern is zoning laws and permits. Obtaining necessary permits is a lengthy process. Sometimes, permits and inspections are delayed, throwing the entire project off the timeline. This can also cost more money than planned.

Time Management

Time management is also crucial. Ground-up construction projects take longer than remodeling or build-out projects. Understanding this upfront and planning properly can help keep everything on track.

When working with subcontractors, if they are hired for certain periods and their start date is pushed back, they may no longer be available or require payment even when not working. There is also the weather to consider. Construction must work around the weather in areas with harsh winters and springs, especially where the ground may freeze, preventing site preparation. 

Benefits of Ground-Up Construction


Ground-up construction is much more flexible than expansion or remodeling. There are fewer challenges since all work can be customized – you get to decide every detail, from layout to materials, ensuring that the final structure meets your needs. 

Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is another significant benefit; modern construction methods and materials offer greater sustainability and long-term cost savings. In many areas, incorporating certain green building practices or laws is also a requirement. Energy efficiency is an investment in an environmentally friendly and economically savvy future.

Need Help With Your Ground-Up Construction Project?

Ground-up construction is more than just building – a journey from concept to reality. It offers a unique blend of challenges and rewards. But with careful planning, the trade-off of a completely custom build is worth it. 

For more on ground-up construction, contact Division 9 Commercial Construction.