Good Planning, not Penny-Pinching: Running a Cost-Effective Construction Project

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Despite the best intentions, many construction projects finish over budget. A 2017 study in the International Journal of Innovation, Management and Technology revealed that nine out of ten projects experienced cost overruns. The factors that contributed to these overruns included frequent design changes, insufficient planning, and a shortage of materials.

A good construction manager’s skill is staying within budget without sacrificing the project’s quality and timeline. Here are some considerations for cost efficiency when implementing a construction project.

Create an Effective Construction Plan

The same study by IJIMT stated that insufficient planning was the top cause of project overruns. The first step in preventing additional expenses is creating a thorough and effective construction plan.

The earlier planning starts, the better, so work closely with the architect to understand what the building will look like and what materials are needed. Being involved at an earlier stage enables building processes and materials that may speed up construction to be highlighted, or at least identify potential bottlenecks and ensure compliance with the National Construction Code of Australia. Changes made during the planning process are less costly to accommodate than those made during construction. Also, cost savings in labour and administrative overheads are improved if greater ‘buildability’ is incorporated in the construction design.

Invest in Quality Materials and Tools

construction tool

Cutting costs does not mean you have to compromise on the quality. Suppliers of materials and equipment are competing for custom, so prices are negotiable and inclusive extras an option. For plant and equipment, the decision to buy or hire will also affect overhead costs, with long term hires eliminating the expense of breakdowns and maintenance.

Some components can be prefabricated and brought to site. Although factory assembled concrete items may appear more costly than in-situ concreting, formwork, steel fixing, mixing, pouring and curing may add time and cost. The quality of a component made under factory conditions should be higher, but the cost of transportation and the method used to place the item may balance out any savings.

Record Your Assets

No matter the size of the site, the role of storekeeper is key to avoiding loss, damage or theft of materials and equipment. Inventory management may take some time, but recording supplies in and out of the store – from steel beams and lintels to drill bits and jigsaws – will cut down on losses and prevent awkward explanations during a site audit.

Different inventory management solutions are available, including mobile apps that scan items into an inventory, bar coding and radio-frequency identification.

Schedule Smart

Maintaining a work schedule is an integral part of any construction project planning. A well-planned schedule helps reduce downtime and identifies tasks that are time dependent. By identifying potential delays, extra time and planning will help prevent overruns. For example, if the construction period falls during a rainy month, allocate more time to make up for weather delays. To create a schedule, refer to your construction plan. Determine the different building phases and how long each stage will take to complete. Also, factor in the materials and tools needed, their delivery times and labour requirements.

Even with effective planning, a proper schedule and the right tools and materials, you cannot guarantee staying on time and within budget. But with proper planning and a focus on the bottom line, you will minimise the risks of downtime and be better prepared to deal with any delays.

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