5 Delay Factors in Construction Projects

Aleczander Gamboa

5 Delay Factors in Construction Projects

Many construction projects miss their deadline to complete the build. And when it’s a big construction project with a global supply chain, the risk of missing deadlines is even greater.

There are a plethora of factors that can contribute to delays in a construction project, from design risks to unexpected mishaps that occur throughout the supply chain. While risk and delay factors are common, identifying them as early as possible is the best way to mitigate the impact of these risks and delays.

 In this article, we unpack the 5 most common risk factors that regularly delay construction projects.

Incorrect Budgets

If the budget for a construction project is miscalculated, some jobs can be shut down for weeks and months while stakeholders reevaluate the numbers. Sometimes, the project is dropped altogether. It’s absolutely essential the budget is correct from the get-go, as it indicates just how much money there is for paying wages, materials and more. 

To minimise the risk of this occurring, the overall budget should always be confirmed by the head contractor and client. Don’t forget to also set aside some buffer money for unexpected risks that may need financial support. While having the budget completely exact sounds good in theory, you never know what can happen throughout the build, so it’s best to be prepared. If you need more assistance, construction management software should be able to help you.

Labour shortages

With Covid-19 and all of the changing rules around it, the world of construction has been changed forever especially with trades being on-site. Depending on where you’re based, there may be government rules in place that limit how many workers you can have on-site. As a result, labour shortages are fast becoming the biggest delay factor in a construction project.

Navigating labour shortages is still something many construction companies are addressing, but this is where mindful spending of your budget might be helpful. If you’re a head contractor or client, you may need to consider paying more for sub-contractors with multiple qualifications and skills or take on workers with limited experience if you need to be spend-savvy. At the moment, the best way to address this delay factor is to strike a healthy balance between versatile highly skilled sub-contractors and newer labour workers.

Increased scope

While it’s normal for original plans to change throughout a construction project, if these changes continue to happen, they present a real risk to the pre-agreed project deadline. This is when the scope starts to increase, which then puts pressure on your budget as well as the relationship you have with the client.

Detailed management is essential if you need to adapt quickly whenever the scope increases. If the construction project is large, with a global supply chain and with multiple materials to track, it’s imperative that stakeholders stay communicative with each other at the beginning of the build to help identify areas where scope may increase. By addressing it early, you can change the design process and acquire sign-offs for amended orders before the build commences. 

Issues with subcontractors

Subcontractors are paramount for every construction project. Even with the best planning, sometimes, the sub-contractors you hire might not be the right fit for the project or they might be hindering the construction progress through non-attendance, poor skills and more.

While it’s impossible to know every subcontractor you hire inside and out, we have some suggestions of how head contractors can mitigate this potential risk. 

  • Screen the subcontractors – When you meet with them, ensure you do a careful review of their work history and determine whether or not their skillset is truly suited for the task at hand. If you have mutual contacts, speak to them to gauge their quality of work.
  • Protect yourself and your business from the beginning – Ensure every contract is signed, including agreements and suspension of payments if they are unable to fulfil the work. Keep at least a few copies of them elsewhere just in case you lose the paper ones.
  • Monitor subcontractors – We don’t mean micromanaging them. What we mean is being in regular communication and obtaining work-in-progress reports. Doing this helps you ensure the project and quality of their work is meeting project deadlines.

Growing material costs

Inflation is real, and like many, the construction industry has been hit hard with escalating prices for materials. It’s even more apparent if the materials are overseas, which is often the case. Generally, it’s not really the fault of the head contractor or even supplier – it’s simply a sign of the times. Throw into the mix of Covid-19 and material shortages in general, and suddenly, many construction projects are costing much more than expected. 

When this delay happens, the best course of action is to suspend the building temporarily. While it’s not desirable, sudden increased costs mean stakeholders should take a step back and re-analyse the budget to accommodate for the change. Reassess what can be done with your current resources (versus what can’t), and alter the construction plan so it addresses the material cost escalation. 

That said, suspending a build is a surefire way you missed the pre-planned deadline. In that case, construction companies should be prepared beforehand with an ‘escalation clause’ in place in the initial contract that protects them from delay-related penalties that are out of their hands.

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Matrak was founded in 2017 and provides innovative mobile-first end-to-end supply chain tracking software solutions to the construction industry. We believe in the significant benefits to Site Managers, contractors, developers and construction supply chains generated from data-driven insights through the materials tracking process.

Industry-wide challenges are best solved through collaboration, and Matrak’s material tracking app strives to bring the construction industry together around its most fundamental component – materials.

Our app is available on all iOS, Android and Windows devices and has helped more than 157 projects in over 5 countries to enable the power of supply chain transparency.

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