There is a lot going on once a construction project starts, and that continues into the planning, construction, and punch-list phase. I believe one of the key elements that determines if the job will run smoothly and be completed on time is the project schedule. The project schedule charts the course and lays out the timeline for the completion of the project.
With so many companies and individuals involved, it is critical everyone understands, approves, and follows the project schedule. Listed below are four suggestions regarding project scheduling.
A realistic schedule is critical. Each task must be allotted enough time for the contractor/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.
Before awarding the job, make sure the schedule is part of the contract documents. A time frame with the scope of work, including an estimated start and completion date, should be agreed upon by both parties and included in the contract. A well-seasoned construction attorney can help draft contracts that include contract definitions, progress and completion details, progress payments, as well as delays and extensions of time.
The more organized you are before the job starts, the better the job goes. A good project manager will focus on the daily task while also thinking three to four steps ahead. It is important to foresee potential delays and to pin down delivery dates. If you are using purchase orders, make sure you attach terms and conditions regarding delivery delays. Keep in mind, it is easier to pick up time in the beginning of the project than at the end in most cases.
Post the timeline for all to see. In my experience, having a schedule in large calendar form posted on the job site is highly effective. I would use a few sheets of unwanted plans (24" x 36") to make the timeline. On the back of each sheet, draw a grid with 5" x 5" squares and then use colored markers to write the schedule. The colored markers are important as they draw people to look at the schedule board. You might use red for inspections, blue for deliveries, green when a subcontractor is starting, etc. Encourage everyone to view the calendar daily for updates or adjustments. This will impress anyone who visits the job site, including the owner. With all the technology we have today, sometimes it’s still the simple things that can have the most impact. I believe this is one of them.
Unforeseen conditions such as weather can be a factor in scheduling. However, having a good team of contractors and subcontractors can sometimes help offset lost time. Keeping the owner aware of the job schedule throughout the project is critical. I have made it a practice not to commit to a completion date until I’m sure weather is not going to delay the job—especially if the owner is doing an early advertising campaign for a grand opening.