It doesn't matter how large or small a construction project is—a properly managed job site is critical to the success of the project and how the contractor is viewed by their client. Like a smooth-running V8 engine or a symphony orchestra, a smooth-running and successful project has many components, such as skilled labor, equipment, materials and, at times, unique creativity.
The level of detail needed to manage a construction project can vary depending on the complexity of the project. Here are 5 solid tips you can use on any project.
1. Organizing from the start. The more organized you are at the beginning of a job, the smoother your project will run. I cannot emphasize this enough. Did you do your homework in selecting the right subcontractors? Are your contract agreements and insurance certificates in order? Are there any permits that may hold you up? Do any specialty items/materials need to be ordered early? Each process of the job needs to be thought out to make sure everything is covered.
Pre-construction meetings can be useful in early organizing. Communicating face to face with each other in front of the plans, specifications, and job schedule can resolve many unforeseen issues before the start of the project. Is everyone on board with the scheduling? Are there any potential conflicts between subcontractors? Is there a staging area at the job site? Is anything missed when one contractor leaves and another contractor picks up? What are the procedures for routine and emergency communication? This is also a great time to review job site safety procedures.
2. Scheduling. A project without a schedule is like a sailboat without a rudder. A realistic schedule is critical. Each task must be allotted enough time for the contractor or subcontractor to be able to staff the job adequately and complete the job correctly and safely. The person putting the schedule together must be familiar with the process and sequence of the project. Posting the schedule in large calendar format for everyone to view daily for changes and adjustments can help keep everyone on schedule. I would always include a preliminary project schedule when issuing contracts.
3. Tracking daily project costs. Being able to view costs at any time throughout the project will help you better track where you are with the budget. Adjustments can be made to fix overages and stay on track. The ability to project expense estimates accurately allows you to gauge cash flow and gives the owner better decision-making in strategies regarding business and finances.
4. Quality assurance and quality control. One key aspect of construction management is making sure the project is built correctly. This means management needs to have knowledge and understanding of construction processes and procedures. It's important to check each step, including design, materials, and workmanship to make sure the work meets all plans, specifications, and building codes. This knowledge is also needed to properly evaluate work completed for payout requests. Changes and addenda often occur throughout a project. Communicating those changes and making sure the work gets done on time can be challenging at times.
5. Closing out the project. Finishing well is important and closing out a project should receive as much attention as starting it. The contract documents may specify what the project closeout should entail, and some projects may require more documentation than others. At a minimum, I believe the contractor should hand the owner a nicely organized binder at the end of the job that includes:
Contact information for all contractors involved on the project.
A list of all material suppliers.
A copy of the occupancy permit from the building department.
Final waiver of lien.
In next month’s blog, I will go into more detail on the topic of how to properly close out a job.