Towards the end of construction the Western Michigan University's project staff will assemble a "punch list", or a list of items that need to be corrected or completed. Once the work is complete enough to allow satisfactory operation of the building, the project becomes "substantially complete". This may occur even if some work remains to be done.
Substantial completion starts the legal and physical transition to University control of the facility:
- Warranty periods commence.
- The statute of limitations on legal liabilities starts.
- The University assumes building liability and provides security and maintenance services.
- University faculty and staff start training on the building systems and technology.
Every construction project has a "start-up" or "break-in" period, which begins after the project is substantially complete. Building systems and equipment are monitored, problems and warranty situations identified and repairs and modifications continue. The project is officially closed only after all "punch list" items are addressed.
Some problems that are identified during the break-in period may not be part of the original scope of work. These are assigned to a separate project and funding source. The new project will have its own budget and schedule. It does not start until the original project is closed.
Planning to move the users and building occupants into the completed building takes place during the construction phase, if not earlier. The sequence of moves is set in advance and all room contents and movable equipment are boxed and labeled. The move can proceed after the certificate of occupancy is issued by the state fire marshal.
Many building systems need a period of continuous operation before their performance can be assessed accurately. An operations review after six months or a year of use may significantly affect maintenance and custodial schedules and practices. Both satisfactory and poorly performing systems are documented for future reference.
At various times, a post-occupancy interview or questionnaire may be given to the building users to record their opinions and experiences with the building. This information may be used to make further modifications to the building or may provide information useful for future projects. The review may also identify practices or activities that can have a negative impact on the facility over time. If so, either the building users will be re-trained or the building systems re-designed to accommodate previously unknown needs.