The construction industry is notorious for experiencing delays and missed deadlines. The complexity of a construction project combined with the many different parties involved in its execution makes it very difficult to keep to deadlines at all times. Yet thorough planning and a measure of foresight can minimise these challenges, while adding a degree of flexibility in the schedule will also help.
Why it’s important to avoid schedule challenges
It is unlikely that a construction project will be able to completely avoid any and all scheduling challenges, and in most cases, one or two delays in a construction schedule can be overcome without the project suffering a great deal. Yet several delays and scheduling issues experienced at the same time can cause significant issues, and it is this compound effect that can cause a project’s costs and timelines to spiral out of control. For this reason, scheduling challenges should be kept to a bare minimum so that the few hiccups that do occur can be dealt with effectively.
Ways to stay on schedule
Understanding which factors are involved in delaying construction projects can help to avoid these delays. From the inception of the project and through the planning and execution stages, these potential hazards should be monitored and mitigated wherever possible. Here are five of the most common scheduling challenges that the construction industry faces, and how to deal with them:
Manage communications effectively
No construction project can be completed with the involvement of only one party. A range of companies, organisations and government entities are involved in all construction projects. Getting all these groups to cooperate effectively can be a challenge, but it is often also key to a construction project running on time. Appointing a key point of contact will help, and this is usually the task of a project manager. Make sure that every party knows who to contact if any issue arises.
Plan on controlling water levels
Many construction projects face a challenge around keeping water at bay. Even projects executed on soundly dry land run the risk of a sudden downpour and would have to deal with any water that accumulates. If you hire a submersible pump in advance it will be easier to alleviate any issues with water. Pumping water away from a site can take time, so a pump that is available to use immediately will minimise any delays.
Overcome weather setbacks
Construction projects run for long periods of time, and it is impossible to predict the weather over a period of many months. It is advisable to look at typical weather patterns for the time in the year during which construction is taking place, and to build into the construction schedule additional days that allow for weather disruption. It also helps to safeguard the construction site in advance if there is a prediction of an adverse weather event, as this will help to prevent completed work from getting undone.
Organise regular inspections
There are a lot of moving parts in a construction project, and it is easy to miss a lack of progress in a specific area until it trips up another area of the project. For this reason, regular inspections and benchmarking against requirements can be very helpful in catching delayed or incorrect work before it becomes a larger problem. Projects should have milestones for all key parts, and inspectors can monitor progress in this regard.
Make sure that the scope of the project is settled on
Project scope creep is a very common reason behind scheduling issues. As a construction project starts, the needs and requirements of the project can sometimes evolve – whether it is due to a lack of thought into planning or due to a change of mind midway through. Stipulating the parameters of the construction project in a contract can help here, while discussing expectations and requirements in a good deal of detail will also help to avoid any misunderstandings.
Delays are inevitable but can be overcome
A construction project that is well planned and executed will incorporate enough latitude for a limited number of delays. It is unwise to plan a project with such tight deadlines that any single delay will cause the project to spin out of control. Instead, be aware that scheduling issues do occur, and leave some room in your planning to absorb these delays. More importantly, run your construction project in a manner that minimises these delays so that they do not cascade into a larger problem.