“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” Alexander Graham Bell may not have written this specifically for construction projects, but it’s the perfect quote to keep in mind when facing the admittedly challenging design-build process. Despite our best intentions, construction projects may not always progress according to schedule. Your perfectly detailed timeline may not always be followed to the letter.
Delays happen, and the sooner you prepare for them, the better chance you have of actually avoiding them. Here are four common causes that are worth creating contingencies for.
As much as we try to mitigate mistakes by creating accurate estimates for budgets, timeframe, and resources, it’s human to make mistakes. Inadequate funds, insufficient materials, and an unrealistic timeline can all cause delays.
For instance, a lack of finances means an inability to purchase materials or human resources (i.e. workers, contractors, etc.) needed to complete the project. Consequently, a lack of materials means a need to order extra supplies from another viable source. This, in turn, postpones construction progress for a time—even if the supplies get shipped out on the same day.
These delays will eventually take a toll on your project’s timeframe. The actual time estimate will need to be adjusted accordingly to accommodate all interruptions; a process that requires all parties involved—from the client to the suppliers to the design-build firm—to give their fully-informed consent to. Realistically speaking, this could take more than just one afternoon’s worth of phone calls.
The best way to avoid these delays is, of course, to procure accurate estimations. Alternatively, you could instead secure back-up assets—such as extra finances or additional supplies—just to be on the safe side.
The weather is probably the most notoriously unpredictable factor you need to consider during remodeling projects. Natural disruptions are hard to anticipate, and therefore can be quite chaotic when they strike. Most companies also find it difficult to create contingencies or backup plans for weather interruptions that don’t involve simply waiting it out.
Since the weather cannot be controlled, short-term solutions such as monitoring the weather forecast or adjusting the timeline according to the season’s weather patterns can help minimize the potential damage caused by the delay. For example; an outdoor pergola project is best started before the rainy season begins.
Believe it or not, the client can also cause major project delays—especially if it takes them a while to make time-sensitive decisions, are out of town, or lack the technological skills needed to keep the project moving. An instance of a client-end delay would be a client’s split-second decision to change directions/designs.
It’s very common for clients to request minor changes or alterations to the project while the project is underway.
To prevent this—or at least minimize these types of request—present them with a clear, highly-detailed 3D design and design-to-production package and a specific, thoroughly comprehensive contract. Have them approve it (several times if you have to) before starting the project.
Shipping & Supply Delays
If your remodeling project is dependent on a third-party supplier for tools and materials, then shipping delays are a very real possibility. In such cases, your project is at the mercy of warehouses or companies who might likewise experience shortages, accidents, or other unanticipated events that could directly affect their stocks, supplies, or transport availability. This, in turn, affects their ability to deliver what was promised.
Potential contingencies for these kinds of emergencies include having several back-up suppliers that are capable of delivering last-minute.
Part of remodeling is accepting that there are at least a dozen variables we can’t control. We can, however, anticipate all potential scenarios and prepare accordingly. It may not be a perfect system, but it’s a system that works.