Mistakes are common in all enterprises, and the construction industry is not an exception. Due to the many intricate details involved in construction, this industry is susceptible to mistakes more than other industries. There are no two similar projects, and therefore, each project is vulnerable to its own set of errors. Some construction mistakes are beyond our control, but there is a lot we can do to avoid the common errors encountered in the field.
The more well-informed you are, the more likely you are to avoid these mistakes. Therefore, we will discuss some common errors encountered and how you can prevent them.
Table of Contents
1. Getting one estimate
Sometimes, we might settle on the first estimate due to the excitement of kicking off a project. A contracting company might be open with you and give you an estimate that you think is good. Everyone is optimistic during the first stages of a project, but behind the optimism lies risks. Going with the first estimate can cause you to let some details slide, but when these un-estimated costs crop up in the middle of a project, you will face project overruns and delays. The optimism from first estimates can dwindle your estimates by wishful thinking.
By assessing several estimates, you will be able to find the best mid-range price for your project. Do not focus solely on price when considering an estimate. You need to assess a contractor’s reputation, experience, and the warranty they offer for the job. This way, you can arrive at the best estimate to suit your needs.
2. Hiring the wrong contractor
Choosing an unqualified and irresponsible contractor can undoubtedly turn your project into a nightmare. Stories of selecting the wrong contractor are not rare in the construction industry. A good contractor can complete the work within the time and budget. Before choosing a contractor, you should perform some due diligence. This way, you can verify if it is a legitimate company and cross-check the types of projects they tackle. Check their licenses and testimonials, and this way, you will be sure of what to expect even before you get to business with such a contractor.
You should also check whether the contractor is bonded or has insurance. If a contractor is not insured, it can be challenging to fulfill their contractual duties if anything goes wrong. Insurance protects your work while it’s ongoing, whereas bonding protects the work while it is complete. An insured contractor will also cover for claims from an injured worker or other associated on-site problems.
3. Forgetting permits
If you lack the proper permits for your project, there are chances that the local authorities will slap you with penalties and stop-work orders, which alter your project’s budget and timeline. Therefore before you start a project, you should beware of all the necessary permits for your project. Construction licenses take a lot of time and money to process, and you should therefore start the application process early. It is important to note that insurance does not cover any project mistakes when a building has no permits. You also need to know who is responsible for your licenses. Sometimes, contractors pull their licenses, and sometimes subcontractors come equipped with their permits. In other cases, a client is responsible for acquiring permits. Most city regulations need you to display your permits publicly so that inspectors can check the work.
4. Poor communication
Misunderstandings between project stakeholders are one of the leading causes of project delays. Sometimes a client feels that they are asking too many questions, but you should never shy away from seeking clarification. If you do not understand it, it is better to find someone who can explain it. Poor communication can also lead to the execution of wrong tasks that will spiral down to costly delays.
The project manager is responsible for setting up a proper communication channel. As the client will not always be on-site, he should leave contacts where they are most easily reachable. The project manager should also set up a way where project stakeholders can relay their correspondences in writing. This helps avoid costly delays and helps maintain the project on track as valuable time will not be wasted waiting for responses.
5. No completion dates
There are some cases where it would be okay to push completion dates further. Unforeseen weather conditions and Acts of God can account for these. However, these rarely occur. Therefore, very few reasons can move the project weeks or months beyond the expected completion date. When contractors continually postpone completion dates, this is a recipe for disaster. Clients try to complete their projects on time by offering reliable contractors’ financial incentives. Sometimes, when contractors delay finishing a project, they are forced to pay a certain amount of money for extending the finish date every day.
A good contractor gives a lot of padding to ensure they complete a project on time, which can save you a lot of headaches.
6. Ignoring safety measures
Accidents on a construction site have adverse effects on property and can affect workers and the public. Accidents are unpredictable but the better prepared a contractor and crew are, the more likely they can avert tragedies. Modern technologies have made it possible to ensure construction staff follows the necessary safety procedures. Using construction wearables helps monitor factors like heart rate and stress levels on a worker and assess whether they are fit to be on-site at that particular moment. The use of cloud-based projects assures safety collaboration among the workers. Construction always has risks but having suitable systems mean one can work safely.
7. Forgetting the small things
We are all naturally forgetful and have days where we can do something by mistake or drop something. However, when it becomes a culture at the workplace, it can be very detrimental to a project. There should be systems on proper equipment handling, continuous training, and monitoring to ensure we do not overlook small things on-site. Ignoring things like equipment management on a project has dire consequences such as unexpected costs. This is why there is a need to follow a strict maintenance schedule with equipment. This helps save a lot of time and money.
8. Performing construction tasks out of order
Sometimes, contractors do not see the consequences of performing some tasks out of order in construction. This might be true on some occasions, but it has severe implications on other occasions. For instance, if a contractor puts siding on a residential project before installing wiring and electrical boxes, they will have to demolish the siding to cater to the wiring. This adds to project costs, leads to wastage of materials, and project delays.
9. Not reading what one signs
Contractors spend a lot of time dealing with different job aspects, and they can quickly sign documents without reading what the document states. People do this all the time, but sometimes it leads to problems. If a contractor signs an order to install the wrong type of tile on a floor, it can cause costly delays that can stall a project. The waiting will cause delays in the delivery of new materials to continue with the project.
10. Using outdated processes
Present-day construction demands do not have the place for outdated software. The use of poorly connected data, software, applications, and cloud service can cripple a contractor. They won’t be able to compete with modern digital contractors. This also attracts inefficiencies and loss of data that can cost the contractor a fortune. Using modernized construction platforms and software boost flexibility, productivity, and profitability.
Not modernizing manual processes has worse consequences than using outdated software. It is incredible that some contractors still use pen, paper, and spreadsheets to manage and track project changes. These manual processes are always susceptible to mistakes and inconsistencies. Using updated techniques helps keep a project safe and boosts efficiency and costs.
11. Not planning for contingencies
There are several situations where we builders are caught off-guard by unpleasant problems in construction. Risks are always present in construction, and it is prudent to plan for them rather than be caught off-guard. If you are renovating a home, it is better to know what the contractor did to prepare how to handle the unexpected.
Preparing for construction hiccups can save you a lot of stress, time, and money. We should always cater to contingencies in a project’s budget. Most cost estimates reserve 7%-10% to cater for risks. How we handle risks spells the difference between the success and failure of a project.
12. Rushing preconstruction
The preconstruction phase is where early planning of the construction takes place. While preconstruction seems to waste time, skipping this phase can result in severe consequences. During the preconstruction phase, the owner evaluates the feasibility of a project. The preconstruction phase involves design development and construction documents. The project team develops cost estimates, overall schedule, risk management strategies, and procurement methods in the design development. If the preconstruction stage is not well handled, costly mistakes can crop up during actual construction.
How to handle construction mistakes
Sometimes even when we implement the best systems on-site, we might find ourselves making some construction mistakes. The first thing you need to do is figure out the steps to implement to avoid accentuating the problems on-site. You can follow the following tips to handle your construction mistakes.
1. Communicate first
Many mistakes can occur on-site. It could be poor product quality, wrong fixtures, or inappropriate materials. However, you do not want to make assumptions on the issues; instead, you need to communicate with the contractor and know what transpired. You cannot rectify a problem that you have no information about.
Document the mistake and alert all parties involved. From here, you should then talk to your contractor. This might be an awkward conversation with your contractor, but it is the best chance you have to fix the issues. Do not rage over the problem as you need co-operation from your contractor.
2. Avoid the blame game
Listen to the contractor’s side of the story when you identify a mistake. It is good practice not to blame people on-site as this will undoubtedly affect the project’s workflow. It might be hard not to blame others, considering these errors will likely increase your budget and project timeline. Try to discuss the issue and find the solution together. Your contractor will feel comfortable and ready to fix the mistake as they know they have your support. Reevaluate the project budget and timeline and understand how to get to the desired goal and progress.
3. Create a proper repair schedule
Some construction mistakes take more time to address than others. You need to develop an excellent repair schedule as you may not always have workers at your disposal to repair an issue. The project manager must coordinate different suppliers, contractors, and subcontractors for repair, and it would help to have a meeting and coordinate the repair efforts. All the stakeholders involved should be accountable for repairing the issue on time.
4. Take steps to prevent the mistake from recurring
After identifying the mistake, accepting it, and rectifying it, the next best step is to put measures to prevent the error from repeating. Review your company’s practices and find the things you need to implement to improve how to handle construction mistakes. Construction mistakes are almost inevitable, but the best systems help you manage errors better.
5. Legal route
This should be your last line of defense. If you cannot agree with your contractor regarding a construction mistake and who is responsible, you might have to consider the legal route. This is unfortunate, but it might be the only way to resolve issues. Most contractual agreements have clauses on conflict resolution. You can settle the issues through mediation, legal advice, or lawyers, and you should conduct all these according to the contract.
The construction mistakes mentioned above are the most common, but due to the unique nature of projects, you might experience some localized errors in your project. The most important thing is how you handle the mistakes. Adapting to new technologies assures you good chances when adversity hits. It also improves productivity and helps a company stay afloat even in the toughest of times.