Delays can happen at any time during the construction process, whether it be before, after, or during the actual construction of a project. Delays are particularly troublesome in construction as they can lead to a rise in costs as well as a reduction of productivity.
Luckily, there are precautions that can be taken to avoid and reduce construction delays. Below are 5 common construction delays and how to avoid them:
#1 WEATHER DELAYS
Weather-related construction delays can’t be avoided altogether, but they can be prepared for. Beyond simply checking forecasts, you should schedule your projects according to their ability to be completed in different weather types.
While hot days won’t always impact construction, extreme heat can cause problems for both crew and products. Materials may not cure the way they’re supposed to, and it may not be safe for crew to work outside for extended periods of time. On hotter days, focus on projects at indoor or shaded sites, or provide frequent breaks in shaded cool areas as well as plenty of cool water for your staff. Another option is to shift work to early morning to avoid the hottest part of the day, which is common when you are dealing with concrete.
The rain can present major issues for construction teams, especially when there are heavy downpours or electrical storms. It can be especially problematic if flooding occurs in buildings with temp electrical cords on the ground or in trenches, which could collapse and cause a major hazard to the surrounding area.
You shouldn’t push for work to be completed if rain conditions are unsafe—especially when it comes to pouring concrete or installing steel frames. However, there is safety equipment specifically designed for rainy conditions that can help keep projects on track. In areas known to have heavy rainfall, plan exterior work for the dry season if the schedule allows. Work overtime to backfill trenches when rain events are forecasted to avoid rework.
Working in the snow is like working in the rain, with the added challenge of potential freezing of materials. The most effective planning for cold environments is to perform exterior work in the warm months. While you can use products such as concrete curing blankets and poly sheeting to help maintain warmth in cold months, these methods can be costly. It takes added work and expenses to build temporary structures prior to pouring concrete, as well as to install warming blankets.
#2 MATERIAL DELAYS
Material delays are common, as it can be difficult to plan for every product you’ll need for a construction project. Unexpected delays in shipping or delivery can also impact your timelines.
Having extras of high-demand material or material that takes longer to deliver can help prevent delays if you need more down the road. You can also work with your supplier to customize delivery dates in case you don’t have a place to store all excess product.
Creating a procurement schedule will allow you to schedule deliveries around milestones (like pouring foundations or setting beams) and can help make project timelines more clear and predictable. It’s also wise to have a construction materials coordinator whose job is dedicated to planning and scheduling material deliveries according to project needs, project delays, and market irregularities.
#3 BUDGET CONFLICTS
Unfortunately, budget conflicts are not a rare occurrence in construction. Often projects go over budget, but clients don’t want to pay more than the original allocated spend. Crews won’t work without getting paid, leaving contractors to figure out a solution.
Allowing a portion of your budget for project contingencies provides room to address issues if they arise. This is especially important for projects that are at risk to experience delays or changes.
You also have the option to create working capital if you’re unable to increase the original amount given for construction costs. If you find yourself in this situation, having working capital allows you to keep projects moving forward without delay.
Machine Learning Programs
Machine learning programs can help you identify discrepancies in your budgets and prevent them from impacting timelines. Machine learning is a set of technology that has the potential to streamline payment requests, sending alerts when it detects payment irregularities or problems with your budgeting process.
#4 ACCESS DELAYS
A lack of safe physical access to the work-site can be a pain to deal with. Ensuring all access is planned for and granted ahead of time is key.
Site Planning and Management
It is critical to review your project and plan the site layout up front. Giving your crews and subcontractors free reign to set up as they please guarantees that your site will only support your crew’s priorities rather than what’s best for the project. Good site planning allows for short trips to the restroom and break areas. It allows for the handling of materials in the closest proximity of the work to be performed.
Construction Site Security
Workers need to feel safe accessing the job site. If you don’t already have construction site security or a gatehouse, consider adding one. A gatehouse can help your team avoid delays by providing a safe place for truck deliveries, allowing in-and-out traffic, and providing a centralized control point.
Additionally, working in prisons, military bases, and other government facilities require special security clearance, which expire often and can be difficult to keep active if not properly managed. Keep in mind that certain security processes can delay production for your crew, so you’ll want to plan ahead of time.
Trucks can also cause delays if not accounted for in your site plan. You should work with your contractor to determine whether you need semi-trucks or straight trucks to get your products in and out of the job site, and mark a clear area for offloading. You must consider the location of the project and site constraints. Locations like downtown in a large city will create issues and may require traffic control to close a lane of traffic for unloading.
#5 LABOR DELAYS
Labor-related delays can be extremely costly and difficult to prepare for. However, you can take precautions to make sure you have the labor needed to complete a job on time—and that includes any subcontractors or other workers who may need special access.
In the current market, labor is not as readily available as it was in the past, making it difficult to sufficiently hire for your projects. Considering your labor needs in your construction schedule allows you to plan your crew size up front for each project. It also enables you to assess the needs of your company at any one moment and assess how project delays will affect your crew size. Have a project coordinator who has relationships with various labor crews to ensure there are backups in case of emergency.
A subcontractor with the right qualifications and access requirements can save you time and money by fulfilling the jobs of delayed crews. Hiring subcontractors is one way to still get work done while your primary crews are unavailable.
Delays are never welcome in construction, but they happen all the time. By being aware of common construction delays and taking preventative measures ahead of time, you can avoid costly project setbacks that could be devastating for your business.
Take the delays off your plate altogether by outsourcing your construction project to our experts at Stronghold Engineering. Our team has years of experience working with budget, weather, and material delays to ensure your project is managed efficiently and cost-effectively.