Most general contractors want to run a tight ship. They want milestones to be completed on time and they want their employees and subcontractors to know what to do at all times. However, some construction projects can get out of hand - for a variety of different reasons. Sometimes it is the fault of a contractor’s inexperience, sometimes it is because of outside circumstances, but many times it is caused by poor construction management.
What does poor construction management look like?
The indications of poor construction management are many. If you are the owner of a building and you notice any of the following things happen on your job site, you need to find a new general contractor.
- Work crews are poorly supervised or not supervised at all.
- Milestones are never completed on time.
- Poor productivity. It may appear like workers are standing around and waiting.
- Change orders are not properly dealt with.
- A contractor makes a bid for your project with little information.
- Workers are not properly skilled.
- Poor coordination of workers and subcontractors.
- Lots of job site accidents.
- Lack of proper permits and insurance.
Why does poor construction management happen?
Ultimately, it is the fault of the general contractor and his poor administrative practices. It can (and usually does) start as early as the planning process. During this time, an inexperienced general contractor can damage the project by creating an unrealistic timeline, finding and scheduling not-so-great subcontractors, creating an unrealistic, low ball bid in order to win the project, etc.
Most problems at this time occur from unrealistic expectations. Of course, everyone wants to get the project done as efficiently and quickly as possible but if the timeline is too aggressive, it will result in more accidents, more mistakes, cut corners,and overworked, unhappy, and unproductive employees.
During the pre-construction phase, in addition to scheduling, the general contractor must also order materials and plan for logistics. Without this plan, materials and equipment could be late to the job site and workers won’t have anything to do. This will drastically stall a project.
Poor construction management also results because of poor subcontractor selection. If subcontractors are not properly vetted by the contractor, who knows what quality of work they do. That’s why it is best to hire an experienced general contractor who has longstanding relationships with his subcontractors. This will ensure they do great work. If you notice that a particular subcontractor isn’t right for your project, you should talk to the general contractor about it.
During construction, the accumulation of all of the previous points will probably come to a head in the form of poor construction management. During construction, problems arise due to poor day to day supervision of the job site. If workers and subcontractors are left to their own devices without the direction of a project manager, they might become confused and unproductive, further extending the project timeline. This is why a qualified job site manager needs to be there at all times to ensure constant productivity and safety. If uncontrollable events such as storms threaten to stall the project, he should know how to plan for that when he sees it coming.
While the general contractor may not always be on site, his company as a whole should be one that has proper practices and procedures in place including well-aligned departments within the organization, great communication between all departments, proper company oversights, and procedures for dealing with conflict resolution.
Poor construction management can also result from the general contractor’s employees. Workers must be motivated to do the job right, they must have a mind for safety, they must be fully capable of doing the job, and they must communicate well.
How to avoid poor construction management.
Hire the right contractor! All of these issues can be resolved before they even occur by hiring an experienced, qualified general contractor.