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Last edited 02 Dec 2022
Handover of the construction site to the client
 What is the handover stage in construction?
The handover stage it the stage of a construction project when the site is handed back to the client for them to occupy. This takes place once the contract administrator has confirmed that the works defined in the contract are complete (typically once practical completion has been certified).
- Release half of the retention (an amount retained from payments due to the contractor to ensure they complete the works).
- End the contractor's liability for liquidated damages (damages that become payable to the client in the event that there is a breach of contract by the contractor - generally by failing to complete the works by the completion date).
- Signify the beginning of the defects liability period.
There is no absolute definition of practical completion and case law is very complex. There is some debate about when practical completion can be certified and whether it can be certified where there are very minor (de minimis) items 'not affecting beneficial occupancy' that remain incomplete.
It is important to note however, that the defects liability period, which follows certification of practical completion, is not a chance to correct problems apparent at practical completion, it is the period during which the contractor may be recalled to rectify defects which appear following practical completion. If there are defects apparent before practical completion, then these should be rectified before a certificate of practical completion is issued.
NB if the project is being completed in phases, the client may take possession of different parts of the site at different times. This can lead to complications with access procedures, security, noise an disturbance and so on.
- Keys, fobs and transmitter controls for the development.
- The health and safety file.
- The draft building owner's manual.
- The building log book.
- A building user's guide.
- Up to date testing and commissioning data.
- All certificates and warranties in respect of the works.
- As-built drawings from consultants and specialist suppliers and contractors (or as manufactured and installed), or an as-constructed building information model.
- Copies of statutory approvals, waivers, consents and conditions.
- Equipment test certificates for lifts, escalators, lifting equipment, cradle systems, boilers and pressure vessels.
- Licences such as licences to store chemicals and gases and to extract groundwater from an artesian well.
If building information modelling (BIM) is being used, the common data environment may be transferred to the employer, including the final published information and the archive which provides a record of all activities in the common data environment during the project. If they have not already done so, the employer should appoint an asset information manager to maintain the information.
- A defects reporting procedure should be agreed.
- Access arrangements should be arranged for the contractor to rectify defects.
- The contractor’s insurance cover ceases upon practical completion so a new policy for full cover needs to be put in place.
- The contractor will no longer be responsible for security and so the client's own security arrangements need to be implemented.
- As the client's facilities management team takes over the running of plant and equipment. Meters and fuel should be checked and recorded and tools and spares issued or sourced.
- Legal agreements such as adoption of roads or lease agreements should be signed.
- Outsourced contracts for maintenance should be signed.
If a soft landings procedure has been adopted, there may be additional requirements to ensure a smooth transition from construction to occupation, such as aftercare services and the provision of a technical guide. These additional services should be included in appointment documents and contracts. See Soft landings for more information.
NB The RIBA Plan of Work 2020 renamed stage 6 'handover and close out' as 'handover. The Plan of Work suggest that: 'In addition to the core contractual obligations to rectify defects, certify Practical Completion and close out the Building Contract, other tasks need to be undertaken. A Project Performance session needs be facilitated, so that the project team can share their experiences for the benefit of future projects... Initial Aftercare tasks need to be initiated and completed.'
- BREEAM Handover.
- BSRIA updates Handover and O&M manuals.
- Building completion.
- Building owner's manual.
- Building log book.
- Building manager.
- Client commissioning.
- Defects liability period.
- Difference between practical completion and partial possession.
- Early use.
- Extended aftercare.
- Handover and close out.
- Handover plan.
- Handover strategy
- Health and safety file.
- Initial aftercare.
- Practical completion.
- Soft landings.
- Soft Landings for owners.
- Whole life costs.
 External references
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