Rising temperatures might mean vacation for some, but it’s the busy season for construction workers. After all the bidding, planning, and talk about new projects, operations are finally rolling. It feels great to get boots back on the ground, but there is still room for error. Here are some common construction project pitfalls and how to deal with them.
Reacting Poorly to Community Concerns
Friendly neighbors can have a tendency to get annoyed with early Saturday morning noise, crazy traffic, or their front yard being torn up for weeks. Sour reactions to those concerns can quickly make your construction project go awry.
You’re doing your best – you know it, your team knows it, so why don’t residents always get it?
It is really easy to just fly off the handle, but take a minute to step into their shoes. Wouldn’t you be a little upset if you were woken up by the sound of a bulldozer back-up alarm at 7 a.m. (and didn’t have to be)? Or if you had to wait a full 5 minutes to take a left turn onto your own street after during rush hour?
Collect any complaints in a professional matter. Be calm, cool, and genuinely nice. Consult the foreman or project manager. If you have a public relations team, get them involved.
Whichever route you take to react to community concerns, do your best to stay empathetic.
Going Over Budget
Yikes – there’s nothing worse than seeing a project sink (or plummet) into the red. It happens for a lot of different reasons: defective materials, additional staffing needs, overtime. Are any of those reasons really unexpected, though? No project should be expected to run smoothly 100% of the time.
When you’re budgeting, allow wiggle room. A financial surplus at the end is a good issue to have.
Also, keep an eye on what’s being spent during the project process. Is there reckless spending going on? People working overtime that’s unnecessary? Don’t micromanage, but also recognize behavior that is blatantly affecting your bottom line.
Finally, consider contracting out cost control services or having someone on staff dedicated to managing your project’s budget. Then you can focus on your main tasks without having to spend hours crunching numbers.
The Unreliable Worker
You’ll probably have a core staff of workers that work on every project, but you might have to hire additional staff on occasion. It’s inevitable to have an unreliable worker step in here and there. Bad habits like showing up late, fudging timecards, or doing mediocre work are things you can only verbally reprimand so many times.
Recognize the difference between a bad worker and someone having a bad day. Let them go when annoying habits get out of hand. If things do get out of hand, it is probably worth it to let them go and train up someone else.
Getting schedules lined up is a tedious task for project managers. Things tend to get muddled between renting equipment, bringing in subcontractors, and ordering supplies.
Invest in project management software. Train or hire someone to run it.
The “What Did We Just Hit?” Moment
“#$%*! What did we hit?!” Hearing that phrase (maybe not verbatim) during a dig is the absolute worst, but it’s more common than you might think. Common or not, the result is a HUGE problem. Your worst case scenario is someone getting hurt or killed. Best case, cutting a wire could mean cutting power to a whole street:hitting a pipe could cause a spill into surrounding soil, water, and air.
Call 811 before you dig. On projects where you are still concerned there are utilities underground that aren’t included in the 811 system, have the area surveyed before work even starts.
Hot Hot Heat
Construction workers typically work long hours during the hottest months of the year. Paired with heat and humidity, they’re at high risk of getting heat illness. Heat illnesses can include heat exhaustion, heat stroke, heat cramps, and heat rash. The symptoms range in severity, but should never be ignored. Things can go from bad to worse in a hurry.
Provide water. If you see an employee becoming abnormally fatigued, sweaty, or dizzy, get them into shade and checked out immediately. Again, never ignore symptoms.
“You have to stop construction until you obtain the correct permits” is one of the worst pieces of news you can get. Depending on the turnaround time for a given permit, it can put a serious kink in your schedule.
If you don’t have the expertise on staff, get advice from a consultant who specializes in environmental or building permits. From beginning to end, they’ll have you covered.
Have you ever worked on a project where materials don’t show up on time, are defective, or just don’t hold up? It can put things on hold for weeks to fix issues and order more supplies.
Find a great set of vendors and stick to them. Forging solid relationships there will help you down the road if you need assistance with getting things replaced on the double. If you must purchase something from an outside source, do your research – read reviews and ask for references like crazy.
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