The Importance of an Accurate Project Schedule
By: Kevin Duffy
The question, “Do you have a project schedule?” is the bane of a contractor’s existence. Most times, a contractor will think to himself – get off my back and let me do my job! As engineers, architects and building envelope consultants, we know that contractors are tired of hearing it. Believe me, we are tired of saying it. But, a project schedule may be one of the most important documents in any construction project.
Schedules come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colors, but the fundamentals are the same: provide a detailed list of activities, and the time frame for their completion. Since there are a variety of unknowns that can sideline the best intentions, determining and following a realistic schedule for a façade restoration project can be particularly challenging. Everything from additional masonry work to structural repairs can lengthen a project schedule by days, weeks, or even months. That being said, providing and regularly updating an accurate initial schedule to reflect weather delays, additional work, or other setbacks, is necessary to ensure the entire scope of work is monitored, and the Owner’s needs are met to the best of the construction team’s ability.
A project schedule is a vital tool used to keep a project on track and within budget. Weekly or hourly engineering costs, sidewalk sheds or scaffold rental costs, air monitoring costs, site safety costs, and other “soft” costs associated with building envelope restoration can wreak havoc on a construction budget if a project runs over schedule. Additionally, the length of time to complete a construction project can adversely affect the owner, occupants, property manager, residents and neighborhood. Project delays can fracture relationships between board members and their fellow residents, or between landlords and tenants. They disrupt on-the- job office workers, or students in a classroom. Delays hurt businesses located under pipe scaffolding and sidewalk bridging. Residents lose access to common and personal spaces. Owners are subject to fines and penalties on top of soaring budget costs. These countless negative effects of a prolonged construction project are at the heart of our insistence that contractors expeditiously provide, carefully monitor and regularly update project schedules. Contractors should also realize that avoidable delays in the project schedule will lead to decreased profits for them, and can harm their reputation within the industry.
To determine and rectify any key tasks that are off track, it’s important to map out the project well in advance. Adding manpower, working extended weekday hours, working on Saturdays or utilizing additional equipment can help get a project back on track. Resolving compatibility issues is another advantage of mapping out a project ahead of time. For example, if the specified waterproofing membrane requires that the recently placed concrete cures for 28 days, the project schedule can aid the construction team in working to minimize the potential 4-week delay this type of requirement could lead to.
As you can see, initial and updated project schedules are not just pieces of paper that engineers ask for at project progress meetings. These schedules are scrutinized to ensure the project is being completed as efficiently as possible, and are critical to the project’s successful completion.