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Common Challenges in Scheduling Residential and Multi-family Construction

In today’s construction climate, expectations are higher than ever. As owners, developers, and financiers continue to invest in this demanding market, builders and contractors must focus on best-in-class project management and on-time delivery to provide impactful results to clients. As a result, even the most basic projects should begin long before ground is broken, with a comprehensive scheduling strategy for procurement and project management efficiencies.

 

Lead Times

Long before contractors or trades can mobilize on-site to perform work, equipment and materials needed for the job must be purchased ahead of time. In many cases, certain components are not readily available “off the shelf” but rather are manufactured or fabricated specifically for a project and can have some longer than expected lead times. Examples may include windows, specialty doors, or lighting fixtures. Some projects with heavier power needs may require special electrical gear that could take six-to-eight months to get from a supplier. Project managers may assume that these items will be available by the time they are needed on the project. However, certain specialty items may still have exceptionally long lead times and should be accounted for when creating the schedule. Check with your mechanical trade partners to ensure that they are providing accurate lead times for any equipment that is part of their scope of work.

 

Project Phasing 

Large projects rarely have a single beginning and end date. Instead, it is most common to have several phases where the various deliverables are completed in stages. Each completed component is then accepted by the owner or property management team once final occupancy has been approved. Early coordination with the entire project team should examine the site layout, where materials will be staged, and how the project will flow. If the project consists of multiple buildings and units, it is critical to understand how the first phases of a project will come on-line for occupancy while the later phases of the project are still taking place. Additionally, there are some single-family home sites where spatial constraints are an issue. In this case it may be necessary to build the larger structure first before erecting a garage or outbuilding. This will provide a laydown or staging area for lumber and materials during the main construction. In any case, consider how things like material deliveries, storage, and parking may evolve throughout. Taking the time to phase a project can help eliminate unanticipated conflicts.

 

Inspections, Punch Out and Cleaning

It is critical to plan for the release of manageable batches of deliverable units. Even though completed work may be in place, getting the final touches put on a home does take some time and effort. This process can drag out unless there is an efficient way to manage punch lists that often see 50 to 100 remedies, including items such as paint touch ups, caulking, missing screws, light bulbs, etc. Turning over move-in ready units takes time and detailed walk throughs. Plan time and a systematic approach (going room by room) to walk each space, create detailed lists, and make space on the schedule for contractors to complete any touch ups. If planned up front, one extra week in the schedule can make a huge difference in perceived value and quality and will have a minimal impact on the overall duration.

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