10 Worst Construction Pitfalls to Avoid

Mistakes made at any point during a construction project can have significant impacts. Some, however, can be much more severe than others and may result in a project going over its estimate or failing altogether. Fortunately, if you know common construction mistakes, you can more effectively anticipate and avoid them.

These are 10 of the worst construction pitfalls, plus the ways they impact projects and methods for how any construction company can avoid them:

1. Neglected Safety Measures

Despite advancements over the past few decades, construction remains one of the most dangerous professions in America, according to data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Heights, heavy objects and machinery all contribute to the potential dangers of a construction site.

Skimping on safety measures is unlikely to save time in the long run, as accidents are costly regarding both time and money.

2. Poor Client Communication

If a contractor doesn’t frequently communicate with their client for the entirety of a project, they’re much more likely to not fulfill client needs. Projects that aren’t up to a client’s standards may need unplanned adjustments, increasing the risk of failure.

3. Increasing Scope Creep

Scope creep is the gradual expansion of a project’s specifications, and it can have serious consequences for any construction project. What begins as a minor renovation slowly grows into a major construction job. As the project’s scope expands, more planning needs to be done.

Because this planning happens during construction, it’s less likely to be comprehensive and accurate. Crucial project elements may be overlooked, material estimates come up short and, eventually, the project starts to run over the budget or schedule.

Keeping the project scope tight and defined can help prevent this issue.

4. Lack of Communication From Managers

Regular communication between managers or supervisors and their workers is essential. Any changes to procedure or project specs should be communicated quickly to workers on-site — otherwise, you run the risk of having employees build structures based on out-of-date plans.

5. Inaccurate Estimates

An inaccurate estimate of project cost, time or materials can easily create issues for any project. Spending additional time on estimates and using more accurate estimation methods will ensure your budget and timeline are reasonable. That way, you can avoid extra expenses or expanded project times.

6. Unclear Roles

On-site workers and supervisors should know which work responsibilities they have at every step of the project. Otherwise, the site will be much more difficult to coordinate, and you may risk staff staying idle when work needs to be done because they’re unsure about their roles.

7. Wrong Materials

Material choice is a critical decision for every construction project. Familiarity with construction materials is essential. For example, you should be relatively confident in knowing the advantages of concrete over other materials or understanding which sustainable materials you have access to.

The wrong material in the wrong place can make a project much more challenging to complete.

8. Unreliable Staff

Project estimates rely on reasonable guesses about how productive workers will be. As a result, employees who fail to show up can quickly cause major issues for a project.

When hiring workers or selecting subcontractors for a project, you should know whether they are reliable before the job begins. Reviews from other project managers who have worked with a subcontractor before, for example, can give you valuable information to learn from.

9. Insufficient Cash Flow

Without money, a construction project is likely stuck. A construction company should always be aware of ongoing costs, cash on hand and potential risks that may disrupt their cash flow. Their project budgets should be made with that information in mind. Otherwise, that company may find itself mid-project with less money than it needs for labor and materials.

10. Overlooked Warning Signs

Often, numerous warning signs precede project failure — like unexpected site conditions and labor shortages. It’s impossible to see every failure coming, but keeping on top of site conditions can often help you stay aware of potential issues. Regular site reports can help any company anticipate possible roadblocks and prepare for issues like flooding or unusual site terrain.

Navigating Around the Worst Construction Pitfalls

These construction pitfalls can cause serious issues for any project, but you can almost always avoid them if you know they may be a problem. Consistent communication between all parties involved in a project, accurate estimates and effective planning will usually be enough to help you avoid these roadblocks — or at least know they’re coming.

About the Author: Emily is a green tech writer who covers topics in renewable energy and

sustainable design. You can read more of her work on her blog, Conservation Folks.

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