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“My builder said he would finish 3 weeks ago!”

Not all builders turn up on time and finish when they say they will. For most of us, “having the builders in” can be a difficult time and a real inconvenience so the sooner they are complete the better! There is nothing more annoying than being told the job will be complete on a specific date only for it to drag on weeks and even months after. Through good project management techniques, you can avoid this by establishing and maintaining, including a regular independent site visit, a realistic and accurate construction programme.  

The construction programme is the most powerful tool you can use to control time, communicate your expectations and keep everyone accountable. It is very difficult to track progress and establish the completion date without it.  Knowing accurately when the roof is coming off and your building will once again be watertight might be a cue for the dates of your next holiday.   

To establish an accurate and realistic construction programme, you should bear 5 things in mind. Understand the activities that are to be completed. Sort them into the order of sequence. Determine what has to be done first and what is done later. Determine how long each activity will take and finally, establish the float. This is time in the schedule allocated as a “buffer” or contingency for unknowns. Poor weather preventing outside work is a good example of this.

There is no point having a schedule unless it is kept up to date. The frequency depends on the project; it might be daily, weekly or monthly. The programme gives you control and it allows you to see if work is falling behind or moving ahead; and how this might affect the critical works and the end completion date. 

Another way of keeping the programme up to date is regular independent site supervision. This will take the weight from your shoulders, ensure your best interests are always kept, motivate the workforce and keep the pressure on so the programme is maintained and unnecessary costs are prevented. 

Some of you may know how difficult it can be to find a good tradesman who was available when you needed them. Accurate forward planning of labour resource availability is absolutely essential to avoid unnecessary and costly production bottlenecks. There is nothing worse than a project that loses momentum just because a key trade was not available at the required time.  

By having an accurately maintained programme along with regular independent site supervision, you are making sure your builder and designers are working as efficiently as they can. You give yourself piece of mind knowing there is control and efficiency which in turn saves you money. 

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By Chris Potter

Chris is the owner and founder of Chris Potter Associates. He is a highly experienced construction professional with experience as a contractor and consultant quantity surveyor and project manager in the UK and Caribbean construction markets.

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