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Dealing with construction delays

From the smallest home addition to a skyscraper, every construction project shares the same basic life cycle: (1) planning, (2) design, (3) construction, and (4) finalization. Delays, though, can disrupt this process.

Materials/Labor Handoffs

Deliveries can rarely be scheduled to arrive on the day when they are needed. Moreover, a subcontractor can never be precisely sure when another crew will be ready to turn over its area to his group. While these sorts of delays can be expected, certain jobs may be more complex than others, which can challenge even the most experienced general contractor.


There is no predictive model that can account for weather in the long-term. From rain stoppage delays to drought, weather can wreak havoc on a production schedule. Weather can even impact suppliers and can even damage a job site.

Unexpected Crises

While labor handoff and weather issues can be expected, some delays are simply impossible to anticipate. These kinds of delays range from owner interference to errors in the plans or specifications—and they can often be quite serious (and costly).

Minimizing the Delays

Once construction has begun, the window of opportunity to any delays in the planning and contracting phases is no longer open. However, there are several strategies that can be implemented to minimize their impact, some of which include:

1. Make sure proper permits are in place before each construction phase.

2. Provide proper site access.

3. Insure appropriate on-site security to minimize theft of materials/equipment.

4. Have safety training programs in place for emergencies (medical, etc).

5. Hire the most experienced personnel.

6. Insure open communication between contractor, subcontractors, and suppliers as well as between owner, architect, and contractor.

7. Monitor all cost and time schedule impacts resulting from turnover/production changes.

8. Consider the impact of union labor—minimum hourly wages, requisite hours per day, and likelihood of union work stoppages—into labor needs.

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