One of the most crucial—and sometimes overlooked—aspects of a successful renovation project is scheduling. Scheduling is developed not only as a means to gauge the progression of the project, but it helps eliminate or reduce project miscues, making it less complicated to determine workarounds for unexpected dilemmas, keeping the project on schedule and on budget without compromising quality.
Cicero's Development Corporation, a Plainfield, Ill.-based general contracting firm that specializes in commercial renovation, shared the following advice to help projects come in on time—and under budget.
The Proactive Approach
A proactive approach in developing a practical schedule is to first evaluate all phases of the renovation process that can dictate the project’s timing. Any factors that can cause delays—such as material lead time, whether the space is occupied during renovation, unforeseen changes to the scope that can affect the budget and requiring ownership approval before moving forward—can have a negative impact on the project’s schedule.
When developing the schedule, it’s imperative that each phase is allotted additional time for those hidden and unexpected challenges.
All team members should understand lead/lag times—measurements used to assess project performance. Lead time describes the time that elapses from initiating one process from start to finish, while lag time refers to the activity that either follows or is delayed by that first process. A good example of lead/lag time would be when ordering furnishings and materials for the jobsite. In this example, the order is initiated, but due to such challenges as manufacturing delays, orders being held up in customs or inclement weather affecting deliveries, the task that follows in sequence could be delayed, thus causing a negative impact on the project’s overall completion. An experienced scheduler is able to determine alternative solutions when deliverables are delayed in order to keep the project moving forward. One of those solutions might very well be tweaking the schedule to make up any time loss in different areas of the project.
Degrees of Difficulty
Having a complete grasp of the levels of difficulty the project may possess also helps. Not only must the scheduler have a working knowledge of the project, but this person must also have a good understanding of the sequence of tasks to be performed. A good scheduler will be able to comprehend all phases of the renovation process and be able to put the pieces of the puzzle together.
Since project tasks are dictated by the sequence and time frame in which project completion is fulfilled, understanding these sequential elements and the time needed for each trade to complete their individual tasks during those critical timeslots are vitally important. Any delays experienced can have severe consequences and take on a ripple effect for the duration of the project if adjustments are not made by the scheduler.
Knowing how and when to schedule inspections during the renovation process with the building department is also critical to ensuring not just the progression of the project, but the safety of the project, assuring all building codes are met. Skipping this step not only delays the project, but interrupt the project until proper inspections are scheduled and performed. This can affect not only the timeline, but also the budget.
Expecting the Unexpected
And then there are situations completely out of a scheduler’s control. For example, if mold is found in the walls during the renovation, the team must take steps to clean it out before the project can continue and the next trade comes in to frame, install insulation and close up those same areas. Since the discovery and remediation of the mold was not part of the original agreement, it’s important that ownership responds expeditiously in order to schedule the remediation contractor and keep the project moving.
Since time is of the essence and time is money, it stands to reason that a priority in any construction renovation should be the implementation of the scheduling process regardless of the size of the project. When selecting a general contractor for your next renovation project, ask about their scheduling process and what steps they have in place to make the renovation experience a successful one.