The Secret to Finishing Construction Projects On Time

Category: Construction | By ClockShark | 2 minute read | Updated Mar 23, 2017
The Secret to Finishing Construction Projects On Time

Want to start finishing construction projects on time?

So, you’ve just been given a new project to get started and manage. As the project manager, what goes through your head and how do you feel? Probably, like most of us, there’s a mild panic attack, butterflies in the stomach and trepidation. There’s also excitement and you want to get started. You are soon inundated with paperwork and meetings.

The client is demanding that work starts as soon as possible, but, not before they’ve received all their required paperwork – permits, construction schedule, method statements, copies of insurances, qualifications of the construction team, and, the list seems to grow.

What we do in the next day and week could define the success of the project. So here are a few things you should consider before leaping into your next project. Sometimes it could even be worth delaying the start of the project a couple of days to allow time to properly plan the project. Mistakes made at the start of the projects could haunt you for the rest of the project.

Finishing construction projects on time

1. Before starting the project

    1. Read the contract document.
    2. Understand the scope of work.
    3. Take cognizance of any project constraints.
    4. Study the bid (price) submission.
    5. Consider the type and quantity of the available resources.
    6. Visit the project site.
    7. Decide on the construction methodology.
    8. Plan the project.
    9. Start recruiting the project team.
    10. Meet the client and their team so you understand their concerns and requirements.

2. In preparation for beginning work

  1. Prepare the construction schedule, submit it to the client and ensure they approve it.
  2. Set-up the safety plan and documentation.
  3. Put a quality control plan in place.
  4. Ensure all the construction permits are approved.
  5. Submit all the project documentation that the client requires.
  6. Plan the project logistics.
  7. Decide on the location, size and type of the project offices, stores and lay down areas.
  8. Order equipment, materials, and resources required to start the project.
  9. Order long-lead items.
  10. Ensure the utilities such as power and water are available in sufficient quantities for construction.

3. Don’t start the project before doing this

  1. Ensure there is a written and valid order/contract in place and that this document adequately protects the contractor and is in accordance with what was priced.
  2. Check that there is adequate insurance in place.
  3. Know where the existing services and utilities are, such as; electrical cables, water mains, and gas pipes.
  4. Make sure that all the required construction permits and approvals are in place.
  5. Where relevant, that you have received any guarantees, sureties or deposits that the client must provide and that these are valid.
  6. Understand the project risks and know what mitigating actions must be taken.
  7. Note and document the condition of the surrounding structures and roads. Confirm the condition with the relevant owners so that your work isn’t blamed for damages that may already exist.
  8. Verify the project site boundaries and the setting out points – more than one building has been constructed on the wrong property or out of position.
  9. Understand project hazards.
  10. Confirm with the client who in their team has the required authority to issue instructions and agree on claims, and what the correct communication channels are.

4. Moving onto the project

  1. Communicate with the client, neighbors and, where necessary, other stakeholders that will be impacted by the work.
  2. Secure the project site to ensure that the public can’t enter the project, and be injured and prevent theft.
  3. Clearly demarcate items that need to be protected – which includes existing services, environmentally sensitive areas (including protected vegetation) and existing structures that could be damaged by the work. Ensure personnel understands that these areas must remain protected and undamaged.
  4. Ensure that all workers undergo a proper project induction so that they are aware of the safety hazards and understand the project requirements for safety, quality, and behavior.
  5. Check that all workers have the required personal protective gear and that the project has first-aid equipment as well as people trained to use it. Set-up the required safety signage and paperwork.
  6. Communicate the construction schedule to managers and supervisors.
  7. Ensure managers and supervisors understand their roles and responsibilities as well as their limits of authority.
  8. Set up offices, stores, and ablutions in a professional manner so they have a neat and tidy appearance.
  9. Erect the required project and company signage.
  10. Put in place controls and systems such as; document control systems, quality management systems, safety controls, etc. Ensure employees understand and use these systems.


Finishing construction projects on time takes focus. More than one project has been destined to fail from the start simply because the contractor failed to plan the project correctly – the contractor installed cranes that were too short or were incapable of lifting the required loads, there were insufficient or the wrong type of resources or the wrong construction methods were selected.

Planning the project properly from the start will save you problems later. Don’t work on a project regretting the early wrong decisions that crippled progress later.

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