Even the simplest and smallest of delays can drive you crazy.  Take the time to plan ahead for problems and “see into the future” as often as you can.  Once you learn about the basic and most common delays, you can start to avoid them or at least see them coming.

Some delays are frustrating while others are a downright disaster.  Keep in mind that many contractors will include late penalties for subcontractors who do not deliver on schedule.  This is usually because the contractor is held by a similar clause in their contract with the project owner.  Being that you are the owner and the contractor (for most of you at least) the decision to use late fees is entirely up to you.  The point is that delays cost money.  Whether it’s because you have to spend more time away from your day job or because the slowdown has created a situation where you need to work with materials you had not planned on, heaters for example.  Either way, your budget just increased and you will have to deal with that in the end.

Let’s take a look at the most common causes of construction delays.

1.      Client Driven Delays

  • Possible changes to initial design
  • Unforeseen financial trouble
  • Slow to make decisions
  • Unclear about their ultimate goals and desires

2.     Contractor Delays

  • Overbooked on other jobs
  • Poor management skills
  • Poor communication
  • Shortfall in number of subcontractors

3.     External Consultant Delays

  • Architect, engineer or other consultant
  • Timely delivery of project information
  • Build-ability of design
  • Difficulty in communication
  • Priority on construction time
  • Priority to other projects

4.     External Factors

  • Weather
  • Restrictive regulations
  • Public works delays ( water, gas, sewer hook-ups, etc..)
  • Bank influence

5.     Project Conditions

  • Function of end use (office, residential, etc…) and the additional restrictions that come with
  • Complexity
  • Location
  • Access
  • Power availability

Wasted time on the job site typically totals roughly 2.5% of annual sales for most construction companies. Over the course of a single job, with a project budget of $250,000, that could mean a budget increase of $6250!  That’s not money I would want to spend on wasted time.  I’d much rather have an upgraded kitchen thank you very much.  As outlined above, there are a lot of potential factors to consider and not all of them are under your control; however, you must control manage those that are.

  • Limit socializing.  No need to spend hours or even long minutes talking with your subcontractors.  I suggest you take an interest in them and get to know them, but don’t distract them from their job.  Let them do their work.
  • Document everything.  This way, you don’t have to retrace your steps every other week just to figure out where you stand.
  • Monitor the weather.   Prepare for bad weather and have contingency plans in place.
  • Schedule daily breaks. Create specific times during the day to call home, talk to a subcontractor or supplier, or just take a break for a while.  If you answer your phone all day long, you won’t get any work done.  Be clear about your hours for communication and stick to them.  Focus on “the now.”

In regards to the last piece, I suggest that you actually create an office space on the jobsite where you can do the work that needs to get done.  Make sure you can spread out the plans and have a place to write as well.  You can handle many tasks in a short amount of time if you plan well.  In an early morning session, you might:

  • Schedule the daily tasks for the next week
  • Call subcontractors with updates
  • Order material deliveries
  • Line up labor, etc..
  • Update the critical path and more