No one likes delays, especially the construction industry. Delays in construction projects can cost time, money, the good will of clients, the ability to quickly start on new projects, and potential future ones. Some delays, like natural disasters and extreme weather are only in Mother Nature's power. But a large number of factors that can adversely effect construction schedules are well within a firm's ability to control. Below are some ways firms can keep themselves on schedule.
First, fully understand a project before accepting it. Many a contractor has been laid low by a Federal project by not taking the time to read through the pages and pages of what seems to be a boilerplate bid. They then discover after the contract has been accepted that not all government jobs are the same. The result can be shut down work sites and daily penalties as firms struggle to adjust to the demands of that particular agency. Even with private homeowners, communication is important even before the project begins. What are their own schedules like, and will they potentially impact on work? Are their hearts set on building materials that could be difficult to obtain, or are they willing to accept substitutes?
General Contractors wanting to avoid delays should make construction project scheduling a priority and be prepared to thoroughly research work sites before work even begins on them. Does a DigSafe firm need to be called in to look for buried wiring or conduits? Are any special permits going to need to be obtained before work begins? Even if it's not a construction firm's responsibility to acquire them, they should confirm that such documents are in place before work begins. The future work site should be mapped and all potential problem areas (safety hazards, gridlock, terrain concerns) carefully documented.
Weather is largely out of the control of contractors, but it can be worked around. Weather forecasting models can help managers predict and avoid working in severe weather (and help to determine when supplies and equipment should be under cover) in addition to determining the right temperature to pour concrete and apply coatings.
The contractor knows great suppliers and sub-contractors? That's wonderful, but are they going to be available to work on or meet the supply demands of that particular project? If not, is a Plan B and C waiting in the wings?
And finally, prepare in advance for, but carefully schedule various project inspections. The timing of these (and any resulting corrections) can add lengthy delays to project schedules.