How to Avoid 3 Common Construction Scheduling Delays

We live in an era that values expediency. Instant gratification is crucial when it comes to how we eat, how we shop, and  — most importantly for our purposes — how we build.

One of the most common questions we get in the early stages of the construction project process is: “How soon can you start?”

The second most common? “What’s the turnaround time/how quickly can this be done?”

Time crunches have become the standard for our industry, with contractors under increasing pressure to get in, renovate or build, and get out.

And we’ve adapted accordingly, prioritizing our clients’ schedules and deadlines. We know that delays can be harmful, as there’s usually not much wiggle room built into a construction schedule.

That’s why it’s crucial to know what causes construction delays and how to avoid them. Here are three of the most common things that derail construction.

1. Permits, Plans, Inspections, Reviews

Any major building or renovation project — and some minor ones — need the blessing of your local government’s planning/zoning/permitting departments.

Many clients underestimate how long this process can take. It’s vital that your representative/project manager keeps on top of these issues and to stay on the ball and ensures the municipality has every plan, form, and fee they need.

This person will also need to serve as the bridge between you, the municipality, the architect and any inspectors or outside engineers.

Make sure you’ve planned for municipality review so the project schedule won’t get pressed if permitting takes a lot of time. Permitting varies from city to city, with different municipalities having different requirements.

2. Shop Drawings

A shop drawing is essentially a “mock-up”  created by a specialty contractor depicting the product which they are providing (cabinets, countertops, shelving, toilet partitions, etc.) for approval.

These drawings show dimensions, as well as details like material/finish type, layout, and colors.

construction schedule diagram

Shop drawings are important in verifying that the specialty contractor understands the plans and that there are no conflicts, errors, or miscommunications.

But when shop drawings aren’t approved in a timely manner, it can cause a cascade of construction delays. Without approved shop drawings, the contractor can’t release the materials to be manufactured, which in turn delays delivery and installation dates.

3. Planning for Long-Lead Items

Most construction projects involve a host of materials that have a long lead time for order and delivery, and all it takes is one integral item on back order to disrupt the entire timeline.

Many lead times are fixed. An elevator, for example, will always take 16 to 18 weeks, while some HVAC units will take longer because manufacturers don’t have specialty items in stock, or build them to spec. And still other items have to be shipped from overseas.

Aside from ordering these items in a timely manner, it’s also vital to make sure extended lead times fit into your overall schedule.

For instance, if the client picks specialty flooring that takes nine weeks to arrive during a 10-week project, that would delay other items that can’t be installed until the flooring is in. The client either needs to change the construction schedule, find an alternative product or deal with delays.

Remember this rule: Losing a day is like losing a week. You have to do everything in your power to guard each day on a construction project, particularly when under time constraints.

An experienced, client-focused contracting company like Souder Brothers Construction can be a great resource going into unfamiliar markets. We’ve worked with building departments in many different jurisdictions and can anticipate what they look for based on that experience.

And as soon as we’re awarded a project, we immediately give our specialty contractors the go-ahead to create shop drawings.

With careful planning starting at day one, it’s possible to do just that and get your next construction project to the finish line on or ahead of schedule.