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Delays, Lags and Lead Times: Navigating Permitting and Supply Chain Issues in Your Construction Project Schedule
When we develop a new project schedule, there are three main components to consider: Materials, Personnel and Local Regulations.
Materials refer to all of the components, fixtures and finishes required to complete the project as designed. Personnel are the project partners, subcontractors and field crews. Regulations refer to the codes, permitting and inspections that are required to start and complete a project in a specific jurisdiction.
Prior to the pandemic, we could proceed with submittals and approvals with confidence that materials would arrive within their normal timelines. We created schedules for the construction team with built-in permitting and inspection dates. In multiple jurisdictions, we moved projects forward with relative ease toward completion.
New Realities of Construction Project Management
Successful commercial construction management demands experienced project managers (PMs) to navigate material submittals and approvals as well as timely permitting, sub-contractor scheduling and inspections. PMs must be on guard for anything that might cause delays, increase costs or impact quality. They need to identify and pursue alternative solutions as necessary.
Since the start of COVID, that experience was put to the test.
The uncertainty of materials delivery dates has essentially upended the construction project schedule. PMs can’t count on mechanical components or lighting packages to arrive when they used to. Common items like kitchen appliances, insulation or carpeting get back-ordered or quickly go out of stock. Delivery timelines shift based on a product’s country of origin or delays by manufacturer, distribution or shipping.
We have also experienced delays in permitting and inspections across jurisdictions due to Government office shutdowns, remote staff or limited staffing.
Despite these disruptions, your project can still happen. It requires agile and experienced project managers who know how to communicate, do their research, plan ahead and adjust to constant change.
The New Construction Project Schedule
Since the pandemic, communication and follow-up are more important than ever. Our approach begins with the materials list to determine when we can expect materials to be on site, and then we work backwards from those expected delivery dates. We also build in a buffer to account for unexpected delivery delays.
If we track shortages among certain products, we may order them immediately and store them until we need them on site. We have also taken steps to lock in prices on materials in short supply.
Planning and communication don’t end there. Our PMs are in constant communication with manufacturers, distributors and suppliers to confirm deliveries. If a significant delay is detected, we will circle back to the design team and client to see if substitutions or alternative materials will meet project specifications. If alternative materials are approved, then the design team will check and reconfigure as necessary to fit that alternative.
Project start dates and construction phases are aligned with permitting and materials deliveries. Once work begins on the job site, we want to keep crews on site making progress. Certain phases of a project that normally happen early may get scheduled in a later phase to coincide with materials delivery. As each phase is complete, we anticipate and communicate to schedule timely inspections.
Needless to say, weekly progress meetings are full of updates about scheduling, deliveries and any uncertainties that need follow-up.
Tips for Your Project
Pandemic-related supply chain issues are a reality that continue to impact current and planned construction projects. An experienced commercial construction management team adapts to these variables and uncertainties. The best teams are leveraging their supply chain connections and technology to update project data in real time. Frequent updates support client confidence and peace of mind.
You can rely on this approach at HBW. We have adapted our services to manage constant change in the supply chain and in the field. Call us to talk about your upcoming project.
Author Nick Tubolino is a Project Executive. He joined HBW in 2012 and has led a team for the company since 2018.