As nearly anyone who works in commercial construction will tell you, delays are a big problem in the industry. How big? A McKinsey study found that a staggering 98 percent of megaprojects (those with budgets over $1 billion) faced cost overruns or delays. Another study found that 60 percent of construction cost overruns at all budgetary levels are due to a combination of commercial building delays, diminished productivity, and weather. You can’t do anything about the weather so it’s time to figure out how to work on the rest.
The amount of coordination required to execute any large construction project makes commercial building delays virtually inevitable. But it’s how you plan for, mitigate, and deal with those delays that can make or break your project. Here are four key tips for avoiding delays on your construction project—and minimizing their damage when they do happen.
1. Ensure that your schedule is realistic and prioritize elements you know could take time.
No contractor wants to tell a client that a project will take longer. And no client wants to hear it, either. But what’s far, far worse is getting the news after the fact, when deadlines are about to start flying past.
A good, realistic schedule leaves room for dealing with issues as they arise. That process begins with identifying likely trouble spots for your project and leaving space in your schedule to address them. Several common sources of construction delays include:
— Permits: Local zoning and permitting processes are often a major source of commercial building delays, especially in large cities. Well-run commercial contractors should have someone with knowledge of local permitting on staff or on retainer.
— Long Lead Materials: Some materials simply take longer than others to fabricate and/or deliver. HVAC systems are a particular pain point since they’re usually custom-fabricated for large projects.
— Shop Drawings: This is a process you definitely shouldn’t wait on, as shop drawings have many critical downstream effects. The longer you wait for these, the longer you will typically wait for your materials.
— Bonding: Getting the terms of construction contract bonds worked out can be a challenge, so it can be a big advantage to use a licensed commercial bonds dealer that works directly with carriers. You’ll likely save time and money on getting bonded.
2. Be aware of environmental conditions.
Creating and maintaining productive working conditions is key to lean construction. An important part of that is maintaining awareness of relevant factors on the ground:
— Public Utilities: Questions of how to work around public utilities should be addressed from day one when planning a construction project. Whether it’s gas lines, power lines, sewers, or public transit, it’s absolutely essential for contractors to coordinate with municipal and state governments to plan around these critical services. The worst-case scenarios can be incredibly bad—just ask the contractor who knocked out an entire island’s power during peak vacation season.
Photo By Yevhen Prozhyrko