By: Kendall Jones on March 5th, 2020
5 Ways to Reduce Costly Rework on Construction Projects
re·work | /rēˈwərk/noun
- Work that should have been done right the first time.
- A common occurrence on construction projects that leads to budget and schedule overruns.
Nobody likes to complete a task only to find out it wasn’t done correctly, forcing them to spend time and money doing it all over again. Hopefully, getting it right the second time around. For construction managers and project managers, rework means reduced productivity and profitability.
In addition to killing the schedule and budget on a project, rework can lead to low morale on the jobsite, breach of contract, warranty claims, and legal consequences. In the long run, constantly having to perform rework on your construction projects can seriously harm you company’s reputation and negatively impact future business prospects.
Common causes of rework include poor quality and craftmanship, incomplete design, design errors, inadequate communication and collaboration, scheduling issues, unknown site conditions, poor material selection, and insufficient supervision and leadership. The good news is that with careful planning, collaboration, and supervision, issues causing rework can be caught early or entirely avoided so that it doesn’t have a serious impact on your budget or schedule.
A constructability review is a process used to determine how buildable a construction project is based on the plans, specifications, and site conditions. The goal of a constructability review is to determine how easily and efficiently a project can be built by applying real-world construction knowledge to the design documents.
Constructability reviews require an in-depth review of the plans and specs and should be easy to understand and interpret. Any ambiguity, missing items, or contradictions in the plans should be addressed. Geotechnical reports and site conditions should be carefully reviewed to avoid any surprises down the road. Pay close attention to foundation elements, structural components, and building materials and components specified.
Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Virtual design and construction (VDC) software are great tools to use while performing constructability reviews for clash detection between building components and better visualization of the project. Identifying possible issues early allows the design team to make the necessary adjustments to the plans and specs to avoid rework once construction is underway.
Plan, Prepare, Schedule…and Have a Plan B
Once you’ve, hopefully, completed your constructability review, it’s time to start planning and scheduling the work on your project. Make sure you have the workforce and equipment needed perform the work, create a site plan, and work with your vendors to make sure the materials you need are available to be delivered when you need them. Any substitution of materials need to be approved by the owner and design team before procurement and installation.
General contractors should work with subcontractors and service providers to schedule out the timeline of the project and when each task is expected to be completed. Identify which tasks can be performed concurrently with other activities on the jobsite and which need to be completed sequentially.
Look for potential risks and problems that might come up. Identify areas where rework is most likely to occur and craft a backup plan to adjust your schedule of work to minimize the effect it has on your costs and project timeline. When unexpected rework pops up, you want to mitigate the damage quickly and make the necessary adjustments to keep your project on schedule.
Adult Supervision Required
One of the best ways to prevent costly rework is to have a capable and knowledgeable construction manager overseeing the jobsite. The construction manager should be monitoring the day-to-day activities on the site and working with foremen and subcontractors to inspect the work in progress and completed tasks. The construction manager can’t be everywhere all the time, but they should frequently walk the jobsite throughout the day to identify issues early and prevent costly rework.
The construction manager also needs to work closely with the project manager to ensure that the project is staying on budget and schedule. Make sure all subcontractors are prequalified and are able to perform their work correctly. If working with newer materials or building components make sure you consult with the manufacturer or distributor to ensure that workers are trained on the proper techniques for installation.
On larger projects, drones and cameras are a great way to monitor construction activity and ensure everything is running smoothly on your construction project. 3D laser scanning technology is also growing in popularity on construction sites. These scans can then be compared against BIM models, 3D drawings, schedule, and estimates to inspect the quality of the work performed and to determine how much progress has been made each day.
Communication, Collaboration, and Coordination
There’s lots of players and stakeholders involved on a construction project. You’ve got your owner and design teams as well as the general contractor, multiple trade contractors, suppliers, service providers, building inspectors, etc. For a construction project to run smoothly, all of these parties need to be kept informed on how the project is progressing.
Cloud-based project management software and mobile apps are a great way to keep everyone in the loop. Daily reports, change orders, updated plans, and as-builts can all be easily and updated in real time to ensure everyone has the most up-to-date and current information on the project.
If rework is required, make sure you are communicating and collaborating with all the affected parties to work together and devise a plan and adjust the construction schedule. General contractors should coordinate with subs and suppliers when rework needs to be done and keep them updated when work is falling behind or getting ahead of schedule so they can adjust their schedules as needed. Make sure to alert subcontractors performing subsequent work when rework is required to avoid a chain reaction of rework.
Train Your Workers
The skilled labor shortage that was caused by the Great Recession is still impacting the construction industry in some areas of the country. Many firms are working with less experienced workers but that’s not an excuse for poor quality work. Workers need to be properly trained on how to perform their tasks safely and correctly.
With greener workers, additional supervision may be needed to ensure they are performing tasks to your quality standards. Consider pairing them with a more experienced worker to act as a mentor to oversee their work and provide on-site training and supervision. The more time and money you invest in training your workers will result in a more efficient and confident workforce. A well-trained workforce is key to improving jobsite productivity and quality of work.
Rework in construction may be inevitable, but with proper planning and oversight it can be prevented or mitigated so it doesn’t have negative impact on your productivity and profitability.
About Kendall Jones
Kendall Jones is the Editor in Chief at ConstructConnect. He has been writing about the construction industry for years, covering a wide range of topics from safety and technology to industry news and operating insights.