Most contractors will tell you that it is easier to pick up time at the beginning of a project than it is at the end. The more organized you are at the start, the smoother the project goes. There are many advantages to completing a job on time or, even better, early. You make the owner happy, as they can get in their home or business when they expect to. Besides that, it helps your bottom-line profit, and contractors realize that the longer a job goes on, the longer their exposure to risk. Strong organization from the start is the key to getting in and out.
Construction projects can vary in size and complexity, so the methods used to organize projects can also vary. Below are five tips to consider before starting your next job.
1.Use your leverage before the job is awarded.
Make sure you include your contract to the subcontractor, as well as an estimated job schedule, as part of the contract documents in the bid process. The power to negotiate is before you award the job to the subcontractor. Any issues with your contract or schedule to the subcontractor should be addressed in the bid process rather than at the start or in the middle of the project. Their final bid should include review and approval of your contract and schedule. Have your team of contractors and suppliers on board and make sure all the paper work is in order, including contracts or proper purchase orders, insurance requirements, schedule of values, scope of work, and their safety program.
2.Finalize permits and contact appropriate agencies before the job is started.
Make sure permits won’t hold up the job once you get started. Utility companies should be contacted and applications filled out early on. Attaching a job schedule to the application will help. Get an estimated installation date as soon as you can and update your schedule accordingly. Does the DOT or the DNR need to be involved? If so, get in touch with them right away. If you see that site environmental issues might be a possibility, requesting a phase one environmental site assessment may be appropriate.
3.Fabricate or purchase specialty items early.
Don’t assume an item is easily available off the shelf and then find out it will take months to get or has been discontinued. Custom fabricated orders may take longer than anticipated. Identifying such issues early on can help eliminate any delays. Each contractor should identify any possible delays within their scope of work.
4.Take full advantage of studying the job during the bidding process.
As a general contractor, I would always spend time with the subcontractors who were seriously bidding the job. I wanted to know if I was missing anything or if my calculations were correct pertaining to their segment of work. Is the site balanced? Are the elevations correct? Do you see any discrepancies in the drawings? How do you anticipate your approach? How many weeks on the project will it take you? Asking the right questions is the key to evaluating the logistical details. It will also show you who is serious about working with you.
5.Hold a preconstruction meeting.
You could call this the launching pad of the job. This is where the logistical details get hammered out so everyone is on the same page. What are the site conditions looking like? Is storage space available? Do you need a staging area? What are the procedures of communication, both routine and emergency? Review design elements, expectations of quality control, safety meetings, and schedule details. Is everything covered where one contractor leaves off and another picks up? Each contractor should plan well before going into the preconstruction meeting so no surprises are encountered and their scope of work runs smoothly.
Each project becomes a learning experience and adjustments are made to pursue higher quality of workmanship and efficiency. Unlike manufacturing, we don’t have the luxury to build, test, redesign, and test again—all behind closed doors—before our product is delivered to its owner. We perform on the spot with many different people watching the progress, which is why organizing from the start is so important.