Here’s What To Do When Construction Projects Go Bad

Published Categorized as Project Management
Project Planning and Corrections

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Even the most promising construction projects may easily get derailed by a few poor choices, mismatched expectations, or any number of other obstacles. That is not to say, however, that your project should be abandoned. What should you do when construction projects go bad?

When construction projects go bad, preserve your reputation by focusing on the project’s future if it is approved to continue. You should consider redefining your goals and budget. Also, hire a team to negotiate incoming changes so that the project runs smoothly and finishes faster.

We’ll discuss some of the major difficulties contractors face on their projects and the typical causes of these issues in this post. We’ll also discuss some strategies for turning the project around for the better.

What To Do When Construction Projects Go Bad

Projects may fail for a variety of reasons, including the following:

  • Financing issues
  • Communication gaps
  • Natural occurrences such as asbestos, mold, and weather disasters
  • Unclear specifications. The owner may not be precise with their desires, or you may not have asked the right questions, leading to an unsatisfactory project.

Some of these reasons are under your control, while others must be dealt with on an as-needed basis. In any scenario, the following suggestions should assist you in reviving your project.

Have a Team That Negotiates Incoming Changes

One of the primary reasons a project fails is that it cannot fulfill deadlines. While this is less of a problem when there are no modifications, such as budget adjustments or design revisions, this is seldom the case.

Most projects suffer budget increases as a result of modifications.

Typically, after formal acknowledgment of the modification is received, the contractor continues, and the cost of the change is discussed later. And far too often, project managers are the ones who debate modifications rather than pushing the project forward.

As the project progresses, you’ll want to staff it with seasoned change management people to plan, estimate, and negotiate any modifications. Once that is done, the project’s personnel may concentrate on completing the job in the field.

Contractors should always prioritize creating large-scale solutions that contribute to the achievement of the owner’s goals.

Refine Your Expectations and Budget

Inaccurate estimates are one of the most frequent causes for a construction project to fail.

Calculation errors omitted permits, and changing market circumstances may result in expensive overruns, causing stress on the management team and dissatisfaction with the customer.

When initiatives take a turn for the worst, it’s time to reevaluate your objectives and budget.

You’ll want to get assistance from a knowledgeable acquaintance to verify that your new strategy is feasible.

The finest project managers double-check their figures to avoid cost overruns and mistakes throughout a project. You might want to make a thorough checklist and project plan to prevent specification omissions while detecting errors.

Before making purchases, check your estimates to ensure that no prices have changed and you didn’t overlook anything. This allows you time to identify cost increases and notify company owners or change prices to remain under budget.

Track Project Performance

Without a means to track the development of your project or any new rules you’ve introduced, you’ll have no way of knowing if you’re improving. You’ll want to keep track of progress, which is why you’ll need to establish cost, time, and quality key performance indicators.

If you can keep track of these statistics, it will make it less likely that you will manage a failing project.

You should consider using a Gantt chart.

A Gantt chart is a bar chart that displays a project’s timeline. It contains certain milestones but is not as comprehensive as a critical path approach.

Resolve Existing Disputes Between the Staff

Most construction disputes concern the fair and equitable settlement of finances and labor. As such, the project team’s capacity to settle conflicts expeditiously is a crucial indication of project success.

According to a 2015 study by Arcadis, inadequate management is the single most frequent source of construction industry conflicts. Given that disagreements may harm production, it is sensible to simplify the process of dealing with them as soon as possible.

Consider conducting an anonymous online poll that employees must complete.

Alternatively, you can take a more personal approach and hire people to interview employees about their concerns and desired changes.

Simplify Long-Term Goals Into Daily Tasks for the Staff

Without defined objectives, it’s impossible to do tasks efficiently. For example, a construction project may quickly go behind schedule if the team does not have a goal to work toward.

Additionally, without these objectives, it isn’t easy to hold individuals responsible for their contributions to a project. You should break down larger objectives into smaller, daily goals that people can achieve.

And if something is not complete by a given day, it should be recorded and compounded into the next day.

Also, remember to hold individuals responsible via established procedures.

Ask for Help

Clients may agree to work with late completions if they are informed well in advance. Therefore, if you can negotiate a later deadline, hire experts to assist in moving the project forward. This is not an indictment of your abilities, as others may provide options you hadn’t considered.

Even discussing an issue with another person may help alleviate the load and provide a fresh perspective.

Preserve Your Reputation

You’re aware of the rapid spread of news through word of mouth and social media, especially negative information like a project manager’s error. Keeping this in mind, everyone is aware that trying tasks do occur.

However, how you respond to these tough tasks will contribute to developing your reputation among colleagues. As difficult as it may be, always be fair to people you deal with when ambitions fail.

When initiatives fail, individuals tend to become more concerned with their personal interests. Typically, project management blames others for their failures.

But handling your tough job with dignity could determine whether the owner permits the project to proceed.

It Helps To Keep a Detailed Record of the Project

Documentation should begin at the start of the project, but if you’re already beyond that stage, you may want to start now. Anything important, such as change requests or missed deadlines by you or the owner, should be documented.

It helps to have credible and documented justifications for any delays or mistakes.

Why Construction Projects Fail

Having a deeper grasp of the project’s weaknesses can assist you in doing the task more effectively.

The following are some of the most common causes for building projects to fail. Additionally, included are several measures that you can take to prevent them.

Improper Risk Management

Due to the complexity of building projects, the risk is an intrinsic part that you cannot eliminate. However, failure to accurately identify, prioritize, and manage risks is a key reason for project failure.

The planning phase enables the team to identify possible project hazards and create solution strategies. Additionally, frequent meetings with stakeholders can assist in proactive risk control.

Even with the greatest risk management strategy in place, things can go wrong, which is why having a contingency plan is essential. However, an unclear one will exacerbate an already difficult situation.

Poor Project Planning

Extensive preparation is one of the most critical steps to prevent failure.

At the start of every project, all stakeholders must agree on the project’s objectives and expectations. This guarantees that all stakeholders make necessary changes to plans, budgets, and timelines to stay on track with the project’s goals.

Additionally, it would be best if you discussed any pertinent plans with subcontractors, which ensures they also meet the expectations of the owner and designer.

While thorough preparation may be demanding, all efforts will help the whole team feel more capable of dealing with any scenario that arises.

Lack of Communication

According to the Project Management Institute, weak communication is among the leading causes of project failure in one-third of cases. It also has a detrimental influence on project success in more than 50% of the instances.

Any construction project needs communication at all levels, from management to the field.

Communication should happen both verbally and in writing, as the paperwork serves as a record of the communication process.

The most effective method to prevent misunderstanding is to use a cloud-based project management system, such as:

The above programs stores all communications in a centralized database accessible to everyone involved in the project. This will simplify interaction and improve transparency throughout the project, ensuring everyone is on the same page.

Inadequate Human Resources

A construction project requires a wide range of human resources, including engineers, plumbers, and others. However, project managers often underestimate the quantity of labor needed for a project during task scheduling, which leads to resource shortages or surpluses, resulting in last-minute hiring or squandered supplies.

The following are some of the ways that inadequate capacity planning may affect your project:

  • Delegating disproportionate amounts of work will result in decreased productivity and fatigue.
  • Poor quality
  • Increased expenses

Your construction labor expenses should account for between 20% and 40% of overall costs. Of course, it helps to have an adequate number of educated and balanced employees getting this proportion.

This is often an estimate that includes all of the experts required for a project.

Limited Skills

Construction is, to a large extent, a reputation-driven business. Individuals like to collaborate with someone they trust. This is often a beneficial thing since familiar teams can be highly advantageous.

However, if there is a skills gap in the group, this may result in some delays.

The answer to this issue is to identify these skill shortages before their effect on the project. Then, once these holes are noted, you may efficiently fill them. The most effective method to do so is via a recruiter like Hays.

Their construction specialists can quickly locate the appropriate individual for you.

Delayed Cash Flow

The construction industry is reliant on invoicing, which can be slow depending on the systems you use, which, in turn, will cause the project’s funding to be delayed.

As a result, invoicing systems should be contemporary and easy to use to ensure that invoices are issued and received promptly.

With better software and sufficient follow-up, you can guarantee that cash flow does not adversely impact your project.

Consistently Bad Weather and Delivery Issues

Unfortunately, since no one can control the weather, you can do little if the job is weather-dependent. You might want to add a few days to your project’s schedule in case weather conditions make work impossible.

Additionally, the weather has a role in determining whether deliveries will reach on time. If you regularly get things late, this will harm your project.

While material and product delays are inevitable, a skilled construction manager should have a contingency plan in place. Perhaps while you wait for delivery or replacement, you might focus on another part of the project.

Another option is to have your purchase expedited by another seller.

Late Decision Making

There may be limited availability for the decision-makers on the owner’s team.

Due to the urgency of decision-making, reviewers must allot enough time within an acceptable period to research proposals and come to a conclusion. You can spend a long time waiting on others to give their opinions.

Late comments add to schedule delays by forcing the contractor to deviate from the original design and construction route.

Most importantly, investors should observe the development of the project regularly. If they lack the time, the contractors may make changes they are unhappy with due to the remarks provided by the investors’ team.

Final Thoughts

The most frequent causes of project failures include disagreements, poor risk management, and insufficient funding. When a project goes wrong, concentrate on making the required changes to the plan to get things back on track.

While you cannot budget for certain things, such as complications specific to the building process, like weather issues, should at least be planned for in some phase.

Deniz Sasal has created a video that simplifies building project planning so that you can easily account for the most critical elements:


By Giovanni Valle

Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.

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