Managing the handover of a commercial construction project effectively is crucial in ensuring it is safe to operate and maintain.

The ‘handover’ takes place when the construction contract has been completed and typically involves the owner formally accepting the finished product and relevant information from the construction manager. The handover process should ensure that the owner is confident their asset is ready and safe for use and that they are able to operate, manage and maintain it. Sometimes, owners are left with a seemingly random bundle of documents and a sense of confusion about how to operate or maintain their new building. In the worst cases, assets with obvious and dangerous defects have been handed over. Here are some general principles that can help ensure the process runs smoothly.

Getting It Right From the Start

To ensure they have what they need at handover, owners should make their expectations clear at the start of the project; this helps prevent confusion or contention later. To clarify what those expectations are, the owner should consider the following:

  • What information and documentation should be available at handover;

  • How the owner will gain assurance that the property is operating as required and expected before accepting it;

  • What instruction or training should be given to whom on the operation or maintenance of the property;

  • Details of the required, or recommended maintenance regime.

Paper Trail

The breadth of information required at handover can be significant and, for large, complex projects may constitute literally hundreds of individual documents. Some common documents are:

  • Names and details of duty-holders involved with the project;

  • Designs, calculations, and specifications;

  • ‘As installed’ or ‘as built’ drawings;

  • Manufacturer’s data sheets and declarations of conformity;

  • Operation and maintenance instructions;

  • Commissioning test results;

  • Records of inspections, or test witnessing;

  • Details of any training or instruction delivered;

  • Written schemes of examination (ie. for pressure systems or lifting equipment);

  • New or revised arrangements and risk assessments for using, maintaining or managing the assets (ie. relating to the management of legionella);

  • Maintenance details;

  • Third-party approvals (ie. fire marshall, insurer, building control, etc.); and

  • Schedules of keys, tools, and equipment to be passed over at handover.

Much of this information will be generated over the life of the project, so it can be helpful to develop an information schedule as early on as possible, to list what is needed, in what format, and which person or function is responsible for collating it.


Rest Assured

The ability of the owner to verify that they are getting what they expect is a key element of the handover process. While the owners may not know all the details, it would be reasonable for them to ask their construction managers and designers what commissioning tests will be carried out, by whom, when and to what standards. These details should form part of the overall method statement of the work. The results of these commissioning tests should then be included in the handover documentation.


Once the property has been handed over, relevant staff must be instructed in how to operate and maintain it. This might be as simple as a short demonstration on how to use a new lighting array, to formal training if a higher level of competence is required. This training could be delivered by the contractor who installed the asset; the contract documentation should specify this.


Almost all assets will need to be maintained in some manner – either in a planned, preventive manner or reactively. Routine inspection and testing may also be required. Managing this can be extremely difficult if the details are spread through a large file. A much more useful approach is to collate that information into a maintenance schedule or log, listing the assets/components and detailing the frequency and nature of the maintenance tasks. Once the owner is satisfied that they have the assurances and information needed to operate and maintain the property, they will often be asked to sign a completion certificate. This will mark the end of the construction phase.

Although handover is the last stage of the installation or construction project, it is the first stage of the much longer operational and maintenance phase. The process needs to be thought through very early in the life of the project; leaving handover to the last minute can only increase the likelihood of missing vital checks or information.

At Creative Builds we are experienced at leading our clients through successful construction handovers. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you with your project.