Posted on 17th November 2022

The Most Common Causes of Construction Delays

Construction Planning

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

Construction delays increase costs and lead to frustration as jobs take longer than expected. As a general contractor, planning for delays helps you avoid them or return to work faster when they occur.

While you won’t prevent every construction delay, knowing common causes lets you stay a step ahead. Keep reading to learn the most factors that bring delays and improve your project planning.

 

1. Improper planning

Before sending workers to a construction site, project managers must consider the entire project from start to finish. A proper plan should include projected costs, workers needed, materials, equipment, and any additional details.

Your planning process should account for many delays, like severe weather events or supply chain issues. For these potential holdups, you might extend the budget or the project timeline to avoid unexpected, last-minute changes.

As you plan, maintain communication with team members. If you plan to hire subcontractors, ensure they understand the plan and will meet set milestones.

 

2. Labor shortages

Labor shortages have reached unprecedented levels. Many refer to this trend as the “great resignation.” Quit rates are higher than at any point in the last 20 years as people leave their jobs for better pay or new opportunities.

The construction industry experiences higher losses, with a worker shortage of 430,000 in the U.S. and 40% of construction workers expected to retire in the next decade.

You can avoid delays by planning for these shortages. You might communicate with subcontractors and your team to see how many workers you have available for the job. Then, plan for the added construction time with fewer workers.

 

3. Supply chain issues

For any building project, you need materials. Your project may require concrete, wood, steel, and brick. Without these materials, your crew can’t work. If they lack materials for a project, they may move to a different one, leaving a building site stagnant for days or weeks.

The construction sector currently experiences more delays in obtaining materials than most other industries. Almost 60% of construction businesses report supplier delays. Material costs have also risen, especially among lumber and steel products.

If you account for delays and high costs in planning, you’ll have a longer project timeline so delays won’t extend your project further.

 

4. Broken down equipment

You trust heavy equipment to do your lifting, using trucks to haul dirt or a crane to lift heavy objects to the proper place. When these large machines break down, you may need to haul them away for repairs or wait for a technician to arrive at the job site. These delays could halt construction for hours or days.

Implementing maintenance practices into your project will extend your equipment life span, saving you from construction delays.

Equipment upkeep practices might include equipment training, daily checks, and a regular maintenance program. Adding these preventive measures helps you avoid delays.

 

5. Changing project scope

As you begin a project, you start with an understanding of what you intend to build, whether it’s a residential house or industrial building, and the costs and workers involved.

If any factors change without authorization or control measures, your project experiences scope creep and deadlines must extend to accommodate changes. Reducing or eliminating scope changes will keep your project running smoothly.

Reduce scope creep by setting clear boundaries as you begin a project. Ensure that any changes meet your approval before execution. Try to avoid adding to the project to please clients and inform your staff to do the same.

 

6. Severe weather

Rain, wind, snow, and other severe weather events often stop construction for hours or days. Since building takes place outside, workers can experience extreme weather, especially during long projects that span every season.

While you can’t predict the weather, use forecasts and past weather data to inform your building decisions. If a long project you did last year had 10 weather delays due to blizzards, incorporate that number into your upcoming project considerations.

Try to schedule project phases during optimal weather. Some construction processes need special temperatures, like pouring concrete, while others work well in any weather, like finishing a building’s interior.

 

7. Lack of communication

For a project to stay on track, every team member must know the schedule and any changes that occur. Project managers and contractors must track changes and document them so the team and stakeholders adjust accordingly.

Communicate with subcontractors to ensure they know when to appear at the job site. Keeping everyone in the loop maintains constant activity during building, rather than waiting for different subcontractors or crews to arrive.

 

Streamline your construction process

During the planning phase, account for events like labor shortages or severe weather to create a realistic schedule. Communicate with your team during building and maintain equipment well to avoid delays.

Knowing what causes building delays will help you prevent future ones and improve your project management skills. With better project management, you will achieve a more predictable result.