General Contractor, Owner, Subcontractor —

7 Super Helpful Tips to Help Avoid Costly Construction Delays

RhumbixApril 16, 2020 • 6 min read

By 2030, global investment in large-scale construction projects is expected to be $13 trillion.

The US has one of the world’s largest construction markets. With over 10 million people employed in the construction industry, keeping people and projects running efficiently can be a difficult task.

Construction delays cost you money and your reputation. But there are simple ways to help projects run smoothly. Keep reading to find out what steps you should be taking to effectively run the constructions projects you work on.

1. Account for Scope Creep and Maintain an Accurate Schedule

Not following the project schedule may lead to liability on the part of the contractor. On many construction projects, scope creep is a major cause of delays.

Scope creep is when the requirements of a project increase as the project progresses. The additional manpower, materials, and time needed to complete the project are all considered a cost of scope creep. When scope creep begins to cause delays that could lead to litigation, you need to ensure you’ve accounted for it.

Avoid this phenomenon by creating an accurate schedule from the outset. Don’t underestimate what it will take to complete the project. Account for project changes that might occur.

If you’re accurate from the beginning, there’s no need to play catch up when the time comes.

The schedule should be agreed upon by all parties. There should be details outlining what could cause delays and how this will affect the project.

When delays do occur, the schedule should be updated accordingly. All parties should be aware of the consequences of said delay and have it in writing. Having an accurate, updated, and agreed-upon schedule can protect you from liability costs and also help you manage your time.

2. Define Excusable and Inexcusable Delays

There are excusable and inexcusable delays and these should be defined clearly before beginning the project.

An inexcusable delay is the fault of the contractor. This includes anybody who falls under the responsibility of the contractor, such as suppliers and subcontractors. When an inexcusable delay occurs, the contractor is liable for the costs.

Will the contractor have to speed up work moving forward? Can the contract be terminated when this occurs? Knowing how these will be dealt with from the outset is important.

The other type of delay is an excusable delay. This type of delay occurs beyond the control of the contractor.

Is the contractor entitled to recover damages from a delay caused by the owner? How much time is allotted to make up for an excusable delay? What counts as an excusable delay, and how it will be dealt with should also be clearly defined before beginning the work.

3. Avoid Inexcusable Construction Delays by Scheduling in Advance

To get a designer or architect onto your site, it can take over a month. Other contractors need time to prepare quotes and schedule work as well. You should know far ahead of time who you’re going to need and when you’re going to need them.

Start booking quotes and ordering the materials you’ll need far in advance. This helps avoid any delays with contractors and third parties that you’re responsible for. If you’re responsible for their work, then you’re liable for any delays caused by not getting them quickly enough.

It’s recommended that you start bidding and booking at least 3 months ahead of time.

You also want to consider building regulations. The city will be involved in any project you’re working on. They’ll determine whether you’re meeting regulations and obtaining the right permits.

Not following these guidelines properly can cause big delays. Get familiar with what you need and how you need to do it before you begin the work. Then you won’t have to worry about doubling back on work already completed.

4. Improve Management

The managers of a project are ultimately the people responsible for ensuring that a project stays on the projected timeline. Not having the right managers in place leads to delays, as well as other problems.

good manager knows how to assign roles and responsibilities. They coordinate the employees, subcontractors, product suppliers, and orders.

If they’re effective, they do this in a way that minimizes delays. They’ll also know how to deal with delays when they do occur. Competent management is the backbone of a successful construction project.

5. Assign Roles and Responsibilities

Having a schedule and clearly defined terms isn’t enough to complete a project on time. You also have to intimately know who is going to be doing what and when they’ll be doing it.

Every aspect of the project should have an individual or team assigned to it. Without knowing who is taking care of each task, critical components of the project may be forgotten.

The owners, managers, and key players in the project should all be aware of who is responsible for what. Establishing accountability can help avoid costly delays.

6. Know the Importance of Your Staff

Staff shortages happen when people get sick, leave a job, or take holidays. Although you’ve planned to have a full workforce, these shortages can occur unexpectedly.

You may also experience shortages as you take on more projects. If another project requires more staff, you may not be working to the capacity you initially expected.

For this reason, you should know how much staff is needed for every project you bid on and how they’ll be distributed. Don’t overbook projects or you’re sure to cause a delay on at least one of them.

You also need to account for the efficiency of your crew. You should be pre-vetting your employees and subcontractors so you know the quality of the crew you’re hiring for the job. Crews that work inefficiently can lead to delays that will cost you in wages as well as potential liability.

7. Use the Right Software

The right software can help you manage your project and determine potential issues in real time.

There’s software to help you with staff productivity. This can improve collaboration across all of the players on a construction site. It can also show you where you’re most inefficient so you can work to improve those areas.

There’s also budgeting software that helps you avoid scope creep and avoid monetary delays. This software helps you plan as changes occur.

You can also find software to manage your schedule. With all the software available, there’s no excuse for not being prepared when a delay occurs.

Are You Managing Your Project Effectively?

With all the people, materials, and parts involved in a construction project, avoiding construction delays can be difficult.

From the beginning, all parties should be clear on the project schedule and what constitutes an excusable or inexcusable delay. The manager of a project also has a big role to play in managing people, roles, and progress as a whole.

And for more helpful tips and advice on effective construction management, check out our blog.


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