Tips on Dealing With Unexpected Changes in Construction

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Tips on Dealing With Unexpected Changes in Construction

We always hear that “change is inevitable” and we’ve proven this to be true a lot of times in a lot of aspects in our lives. Most of the changes that we encounter are not anticipated in any way. This is most especially true in our professions.

Technology has played a crucial role in managing these changes, but there are some industries that are still relying on old approaches and one of them is construction. With so many elements involved in one single project, the construction industry often sees a lot of changes.

Some changes in construction are dreaded by contractors, subcontractors, and their crew members because some involve a wide scope of the project that they disturb their anticipated plan and even put things on hold. some would even require to redo things from scratch. But this shouldn’t be the case if you are prepared and you know how to manage the changes. With proper management and planning and the right construction management software at hand, the industry can tackle the changes more appropriately so the results will still be as expected.

Change Orders in Construction

Managing change orders in construction projects can be cumbersome and potentially derail the project’s success. Handling these changes requires skills and knowledge in finding the sweet spot for balancing the triple constraint in project management.

In construction, over 75% of the change orders are related to scope creep or poorly defined scope of the project. So as early as bidding, the project must already have a clearly defined scope from start to finish, going into details, and establish clear acceptance criteria.

But how do you go about defining the construction project scope? This starts with the owner, contractor, and project managers. And it goes the same for subcontractors. This is why any project should start with a thorough interview with the owner or the general contractor (for subcontract projects) to obtain a clear scope definition while understanding the expectations of the project. This is how you can efficiently plan the steps you should take to complete the project as well as the schedule.

Now, let’s look into some strategies and approaches you can use to manage some changes in your construction project without sacrificing quality and so much time.

1.Unforeseen Conditions

We always advise you to determine possible problems that you may encounter during the construction process and to plan an alternate route to take so the project won’t be delayed. However, and no matter how good you are or your construction planning software is, there will still be some unexpected happenings that you can’t probably have imagined while drafting the plan.

This is a tricky one. How much due diligence is required? You might want to expand your due diligence and analysis prior to committing to any specific project scope. We recommend you to create a scoping contract where you ask some time for addressing project unknowns when they happen. So this is why you should have a competent project manager and the right construction management software to come up with solutions quickly and appropriately.

To manage the future unexpected troubles, present to the owner the benefits and costs associated with the pre-scoping contract. Let him know how this approach can result to more savings, fewer issues, and a faster construction process. Your pre-scoping contract should allow you as a contractor or subcontractor to opt-out if the risks are too high or allow you to provide recommendations based on your findings that can tackle the changes in a better way.

2.Pricing Methods

No matter how accurate your project estimate is during the bidding and planning stage, there will still be some inconsistencies in project units and unit prices. This is because prices in the market can suddenly go up or down without prior notice. This greatly depends on the economy, which you obviously don’t have control of.

Some inconsistencies are per linear foot, while some are per meter basis. Issues arise when the contractor overlooks that the units are not the right ones. Sometimes, they provide cost on a lump-sum basis while the project is asking for unit prices.

So during the bidding, the contractor should already be sure that he understands the specific contractual requirements. If there are mistakes in the order, then let the owner know that the units are not consistent. If you keep mum and change them on your own without the owner knowing, bigger issues may arise and the work of your crew members, as well as subcontractors, will be affected.

3.Time Extension

Time is of the essence in the construction industry so it is important to have a solid and updated schedule because this is how you will know whether you can meet the deadline or you will need an extension. This is where construction management software like Pro Crew Schedule becomes useful.

A good schedule is fundamental, and a critical piece of information used to complete a time impact analysis. This is used by many project owners, general contractors, and subcontractors to demonstrate the time required for completing changes in the project. This analysis will help you save thousands of dollars due to avoided liquidated damages. It also serves as a tool to validate the relationship between tasks and activities that a priori might not appear to be affected by the proposed changes.

4.Material Delays

Some unexpected changes in plans and schedules are caused by delays in delivering materials and equipment. And this is also out of the contractor or subcontractor’s control as the problem lies on the supplier. However, for the owner, delay due to supplier mistake isn’t always a valid reason. We know that you chose that supplier because they offer the best deal, but there should be alternatives.

The contractor or subcontractor must clearly recognize any issue related to long lead material delivery. If this affects the project schedule, then claim for a change order. Consider that other labor-related aspects, not necessarily tied to the material itself could also be affected by these delays.

Be prepared to provide options or substituting the specified material or equipment if you just want to get things done according to schedule. This is considered part of value engineering, and it has a cost associated with it.

Some Other Tips


1.Accept the changes

You need to understand why the change has to happen. If you deny it because you want to stick only to the original plan, then you can lose so much time that it can cause costly delays. You do not want to have something which will result in project delay because that will be a total failure.

2.Come up with solutions instead

When you accept the change, it is easier to set your mind into finding solutions to keep the project up and running. Come up with logical ways to handle the changes. It can be adding it as a part of a plan or just having a discussion on when to perform the unexpected change. This is when a strong line of communication will play a significant role so invest in communication and collaboration tools like Pro Crew Schedule to quickly relay new plans and solutions to the right person.

3.Take on the expert help

If you are not sure about what to do to handle the change, don’t be shy to take expert advice. Communicate with the experts in the industry and ask for their professional advice and best-suited solution. If you have friends in the industry who faced the same change, then ask how they handled the issues.

Managing Changes in Construction

Changes in a construction project will definitely occur no matter how well you prepare your plans. But it is important to understand that not all changes should affect the schedule, budget, and scope. Some changes are minor, some are so big in scope, and some are inevitable. No matter what change arises, you should be prepared. Having the right tools to help you manage the change is critical in helping you stay on track. This is why you should use the right construction project management software like Pro Crew Schedule. A contractor or subcontractor must also think that for every change there could be a reduction in scope in another area so be ready to extend the right credit for the work not being completed or being changed.  As for other things to keep in mind? Low bidding a job could be dangerous and might lead to canceling your contract if proven right. The risks are too high for you when you continue a low budget project where you will earn almost nothing. Learning curve aspects are not an acceptable change in construction so be ready to include training time into your schedule and project budget. Write the right type of contract too, where you are protected when sudden change order requests arrive.

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