Posted on 23rd June 2022

How to Reduce Downtime in Home Building

Concept image of floor plans and a home merging

Downtime in construction can waste time and money. When a machine is inoperable, it can impact other closely related activities. This reduces productivity and lowers potential profits. With that in mind, here are some ways to minimize downtime in construction.


1. Prepare for Uncontrollable Downtime

Some downtime delays are out of contractors’ control. While they can’t prevent them, they can prepare for them. These disruptions may include the following:

  • Employees missing work due to illness, lateness, or scheduling errors
  • Delivery delays from vendors
  • Limited spare parts available
  • Repairs due to misuse of the machine by employees


To help lower these risks, have an on-call employee to cover for absent team members. Work in some extra buffer room in the schedule. That way, any issues won’t extend the project deadline. Try to work ahead as well. Order supplies in advance and train employees to operate machinery on day one.


2. Employ Efficient Managers

Having the right supervisor can make a project more successful. They need to be able to communicate with and lead the team effectively. If they are unorganized, it can rub off on the workers and create a less efficient process.

Instead, having efficiency-minded managers allows tasks to get completed quickly. Here are a few essential skills managers should have:

  • Time-management
  • Delegation
  • Teamwork
  • Problem-solving
  • Flexibility


3. Keep Up With Proper Maintenance

Ensure your employees are adequately trained in how to maintain the machinery they operate. Without proper upkeep, these machines can face damage or premature wear and tear. Regular inspections help prevent equipment breakdowns that lead to project delays.

Regularly clean and lubricate all machines to keep them in top shape. Keep track of any service evaluations or repairs. Plus, note the fuel levels to catch issues early on. Once the machine is cleaned, ensure all employees fully know how to operate it.


4. Be Prepared With a Backup Plans

Often, contractors will have one main plan for moving the project along. They may have mapped out the critical tasks that need to be completed in a specific order. However, if one thing is delayed, it creates a snowball effect.

Seek ways to have multiple ways of finishing the assignment. One thing to prepare for is equipment failure. Have access to backup machines or extra batteries. Also, have a plan for getting alternate supplies if a vendor falls through.


5. Schedule in Equipment Downtime

Machines need time to cool down. This prevents them from breaking down more quickly. Therefore, cycle through the equipment, giving them all equal use when you can. Also, use only as much machinery as is needed for the job.

Don’t neglect the condition of your spares, either. Make any necessary repairs so they’re always good to go in the case of an emergency with your primary assets.


6. Keep the Weather in Mind

The weather is another uncontrollable factor that builders should prepare for. Severe weather delays projects through extended time off for workers. It can also damage uncovered structures, such as framing. Exposed wooden elements are also susceptible to rotting after heavy rainfall.

To prevent these issues, keep up with local weather reports. Also, plan ahead by tarping structures as a matter of course, or by proactively rearranging employees’ schedules.


7. Buy Quality Equipment

Along with proper maintenance, buy high-quality parts. Make sure to have durable tires, if applicable, plus premium fuel for all of your small engines. Look for lifting tools made from durable materials, such as stainless steel. If possible, test the machine before buying. In addition, read reviews about the company and its products.

Quality machinery can help prevent costly repairs. As a result, you’ll waste less time having to order new parts or replacement equipment.


8. Plan Properly

Poor management can impact a project. For example, if a contractor isn’t aware of local building or zoning laws, it can lead to setbacks. Also, having enough qualified staff and equipment is essential. Without it, tasks may not get completed on time. To grow their leadership skills, managers can reach out to a consultant.

Here are a few tips to improve these skills:

  • Set realistic expectations.
  • Use project-management tools.
  • Encourage accountability.
  • Build a detailed schedule.
  • Organize files.
  • Develop a communication plan.


9. Make Scheduled Downtime Productive

Scheduling some downtime for the employees can help prevent unexpected disruptions. Try planning it at night, when it’s too dark to work. Also, take advantage of seasonal downtime to perform employee training or office tasks. Here are a few other ways to be productive:

  • Look into best business practices.
  • Determine areas of improvement.
  • Come up with a plan to be more eco-friendly.
  • Take time to network.
  • Inspect onsite equipment.


10. Follow the Data

Data can help to back up essential decisions. Using software to collect field information helps make proactive decisions. Suppose operations are slow due to faulty equipment? Have a backup inspected and on hand.

Also, using past data can ensure contractors don’t make the same mistakes twice. Therefore, careful documentation can make this process easier. Create backup files of this data for extra protection.


Tips to Stay on Track

Building a home is an involved process. It takes time and energy. Faulty equipment and poor planning can lead to project delays and downtime, so follow these tips to help reduce that risk in construction.


By Evelyn Long, Editor-in-Chief of Renovated.