Being a general contractor is not an easy task. Every day, you will come across new challenges in the design-build projects and if those projects are delayed or failed, a heavy monetary loss will deter your contractor business and the worst thing is that you will lose out to your competitors.
Often the blame is given to politics, macroeconomics, volatile environment or any other factor. But the problems which are the center of one project are usually not the problems of others. The experience in numerous design-build projects has helped in recognizing certain factors which are capable to ruin the fate of a project. In order to save the commercial construction projects, here are 10 important lessons learned from challenging design-build projects.
Lesson # 1: You will come across various problems throughout the process
It is a fact that no commercial construction project is totally free of difficulties. The problems will inevitably arise but the intensity of those problems might not be the same. Some problems are small while others are big. Moreover, the different design-build projects will face different kinds of problems. The best way to overcome the problems is that the construction companies should address them as soon as they happen and the best practices should be shared with Project Managers so that any future difficulties can be avoided.
Lesson # 2: Get ready for the approval process of land development
Carrying out a building renovation, industrial construction or any other kind of commercial construction on any piece of land is a difficult and lengthy process. So the best thing is that you should be properly informed about the processes involved and you should not hurry your expectations. Learn about the municipality amendments of the region you are carrying out the project in and become aware of all the parties who will review the different characteristics of the project. Some tips to help you understand the approval processes of land development are as follows:
- The process of developing a land is usually a lengthy one.
- Before getting along with the project, make sure that the location is properly zoned.
- The success of a design project depends upon the soil’s bearing capacity. So, get the construction site evaluated by a geo-technician.
- Often, every phase of the project requires distinct permitting – demolition, land development, plumbing, fire protection, etc. All this might not be easy to manage.
- It is very important to connect with the utilities like sewer and water. Consider the way you will connect.
Lesson # 3: Develop a robust team
If you have the right team, it will surely make the difference. Make sure that the team you have is capable to do the work effectively and efficiently. Your priority should be to build solid and long-lasting relationships with the renowned subcontractors as well as other experts.
Lesson # 4: Consider the lead times
A major and common issue faced during design-build projects is handling the management of necessary equipment and materials. Sometimes the lead times are unbelievably long and the best you can do to avoid such hassles is to place the orders as soon as you see the requirements.
Lesson # 5: One of the key constituents to success is project scheduling
You should have a detailed and thorough schedule made and every member of your team should function according to that schedule. Another important thing is that this schedule should be properly communicated to all your team members and also to the subcontractors.
Lesson # 6: Evaluate the scope
You should evaluate every portion of your project scope and make sure that you comprehend and resolve the recognized discrepancies. Moreover, it is very important to get rid of “scope creep” – little and superfluous items which creep into the design project and increase unnecessary time or cost.
Lesson # 7: Never ever forget your values
You might be aware of the fact that the correct way is not always the most convenient and easy way. The right path will sometimes test your patience and make it hard for you to achieve the project objectives. But you should never forget your values and take all the ethically correct decisions. The shortcuts may look easy but might lead to problems in future.
Lesson # 8: Communication is key
The communication lines should always be kept open, not only with the design professional or the owner but all the vendors and subcontractors should also be able to communicate with you. This step is very important in commercial construction that helps in creating a quality-driven and reliable outcome.
Lesson # 9: Every project meeting is important
The best way to communicate and put forward your plans for the project is arranging project meetings. These meetings also bring out the issues faced by subordinates and suppliers. It should be made sure that the project meetings are conducted regularly. It is necessary to properly plan the meetings in advance and all the major players should attend them to bring out the desired results. Some important tips which can help in bringing out the maximum from the project meetings are as follows:
- A robust agenda for the meeting should be developed and make sure that you don’t miss any important things
- You can start the meeting by reviewing the meeting minutes from preceding project meetings. This solidifies the agenda for the meeting
- It should be made sure that all the correct subcontractors are present at the project meeting
- All the significant issues should be brought forward and discussed to bring effective solutions
- Everyone present at the meeting should be given the opportunity to express their thoughts and if any questions arise, they should be properly answered
Lesson # 10: There are times when mother nature rules
One factor which even the best contractor fails to predict is the weather. No doubt, meticulous planning is very much necessary but one thing you should have in your plans is flexibility. This helps in making adjustments in plans when the mother nature rules.