Whenever a construction job begins, it’s in everyone’s best interest to do one thing as accurately as possible: predict the future.
Unfortunately, not everyone can foresee events that may inhibit the completion of a project. Since such events often lead to downtime during delays, the real question becomes, “How do you handle unexpected job delays?”
Here are some of the most common types of job delays followed by some ideas about how to get through them:
Client Driven Delays
Client driven delays are one of the hardest types of delays to avoid. It could be that the client is slow or hesitant to make decisions, or it could be a larger issue such as an unforeseen financial difficulty. Although the causes may be varied, all client driven delays have one thing in common: you are at their mercy!
Weather delays are one of the most difficult factors for long-term planning which can change your plans regardless of time of year. One thing is guaranteed though-weather-related delays will ALWAYS be a factor. These additional delays can strike without notice and can affect your work at a site and may even have an impact on your delivery and/or storage of supplies.
Bad weather isn’t the only thing that may affect your job materials. Even in this day and age the materials that you need to get your job done don’t always come in on the day you have scheduled for them to arrive. If your next step on the jobsite requires materials that get delayed, it could very well put a halt to the job, which can potentially cost you and your client both time and money.
So how do you prepare for the possibility of a job delay? Your opportunity to do so comes on the very first day of a project. Being proactive is the best way to handle these kinds of potential issues before they even occur. Here are a few strategies that you can use before the work begins in order to keep delays at a minimum.
- From the very beginning, make sure that the job site is accessible to all work vehicles and equipment that may need access for any part of the job. That way, even if there is an unanticipated delay in one area, work may continue for another aspect of the job.
- Maintain the proper amount of jobsite security in order minimize the possibility of construction site theft (read more on this here “When Thieves Strike!”). Stolen materials or equipment is definitely an important delay to help prevent.
- Hire experienced personnel for all job positions. People who know what they are doing may work more efficiently and produce more quality results, saving time and the need to re-do.
- Ensure that all workers have had training for safety and emergencies so that if an emergency issue does occur, it can be dealt with swiftly and handled properly.
- Make sure that all required permits have been obtained and are in place for each stage of the project ahead of time, so that-as far as you can help it-your timing on the project goes as scheduled.
- Assess clients’ needs and expectations thoroughly ahead of time. Once you have a very specific idea of what they want, try to minimize the amount of change requests available to them once the project is underway. This will help to cut back on many client-related delays.
Once a project is already in full-swing, the following can help any delays be resolved more smoothly:
- Get early warning. Once a job is underway, make certain that you and your team are keeping your eyes out for any potential issues that could cause a delay and deal with it immediately. The longer it takes for you and/or your team to react to a specific issue, the more potentially damaging the delay.
- Make sure the client knows the cause of the delay. When delays (or even potential delays) occur, make certain that your client is privy to them. Sometimes clients do not realize that their own late instructions or hesitance in approving designs may qualify as a delay. Now and then clients need to realize that all of those decisions can have a cumulative effect. Helping the client to be aware of the impact of their own decisions (or indecisions) can help prevent project delays, saving that client unnecessary expense in the long run.
Delays will always be a reality of the contracting world, but knowing how to prevent them or how to deal with them will save you time, money and frustration. Furthermore, the contractor who knows how to take preventative action to avoid unnecessary delays, and how to smoothly deal with the ones that do occur, will likely establish a good reputation in the workplace.
–Written by Dane Gustafson