How to Reduce Project Delays in a Challenging Market

Vintage black clock with tou contruction diggers nearby

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenging time for the construction industry as a whole. Workers and managers were faced with uncertainty over the health and safety of continuing construction work throughout the crisis. These uncertainties, along with supply chain issues,  a growing labor shortage, and skyrocketing prices, mean project delays have made the transition from an occasional inconvenience to a fact of life.

As things start to go back to normal, at least where the pandemic is concerned, many of these other challenges still remain. What can contractors and construction companies do to reduce project delays in a perpetually challenging market?

 

Expect Delays for a While

The introduction of the COVID-19 vaccines means many companies have started to resume their normal operations. But the world isn’t out of the woods quite yet. New virus variants are emerging, and many of the other challenges that impacted construction schedules throughout 2020 and into 2021 are still throwing a wrench into the works.

It’s possible to mitigate some of the damage these delays are causing, but it’s important to understand that delays will be a fact of life for the foreseeable future. All contractors and business owners can do is hang on to their hats and take any necessary steps to try and reduce the impact they’re having on the industry as a whole.

 

Start Planning Now

The pandemic isn’t over. Material prices are still some of the highest they’ve ever been, and the labor shortage in the industry is continuing to get worse. These are all facts, but if anyone has been waiting for a sign to tell them to start making a plan for the future, this is that sign.

There has never been a better time to step and start making the necessary plans for when things do finally go back to normal.

Some of these challenges, such as the labour shortage, were happening before the pandemic and will continue long after masks and social distancing are a distant and unpleasant memory. Step up and start planning, even if some of the steps might require criteria that don’t yet exist — such as the end of the pandemic or reduced material costs — so the company is ready when those opportunities arise.

 

Take Your Admin Digital

The administrative side of any construction project can take up a lot of time — and clinging to old or outdated methods of storing information and cataloguing reports increases that time waste. Construction companies spend upwards of 40% of their time looking for updates and writing reports. That time could be better spent creating a plan or mitigating the problems caused by all of these construction challenges.

Taking the admin side of a company digital can help improve efficiency and reduce the amount of time wasted just writing and filing reports. For those not sure where to start, start by looking at project management software. These programs are designed to keep everything organized in an efficient and user-friendly way.

 

Improve Understanding of Contract Law

Project contracts have presented an increased risk during the COVID-19 pandemic with many consumers utilizing the force majeure clause in their contracts to end the contract or put the projects on a long-term hold while they wait for the world to return to normal. While this is their right, there are some who have argued whether the COVID-19 pandemic could even be considered an act of God that would qualify as a force majeure event.

No matter which side of the argument a company falls on, understanding contract law is essential for preventing project delays. New contracts, or contract styles, may be necessary to accommodate the ever-changing nature of the industry as it adapts to these new challenges. Develop a comprehensive understanding of contract law or keep a contract lawyer on staff to answer any questions — or preferably both.

 

Consider Adopting Lean Construction Principles

Lean principles in manufacturing and other industries may have gotten their start in Japan, but they have quickly become one of the best ways to reduce waste and increase efficiency on nearly any type of job site.

At its core, lean construction is about reducing waste. That means reducing everything from waste materials that might end up in a landfill to reducing wasted time where employees are waiting for a task to be accomplished or a specific material to be delivered.

Adopting lean construction principles can take time. Don’t rush into it, because it can represent a substantial change for anyone still clinging to older techniques and technologies. Start by taking a closer look at the existing practices and seeing where they could be improved. Changes, even small ones, can add up over time. And in no time, there’s a lean construction site on hand that can help reduce project delays.

 

Reduce Project Delays in Building and Construction

It’s easy to fret that this culture of project delays, shutdowns, and costly materials might persist for a long time to come. But things will go back to normal eventually. It’s up to construction companies to make the best of what they’ve got on hand right now while they — and the rest of the world — patiently wait for some sort of normality.

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