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Construction Project Timeline

Simple Project Time Lines

One way to help minimize or eliminate project delays is to create an accurate and realistic project time line. This timeline lists all major aspects of your project. These aspects include both tasks and key materials needed to complete your project. It is vitally important to ensure that all tasks and materials are listed. The Checklists that I market list these aspects in great detail.

The successful creation of the project timeline depends upon accurate information from your contractor, his sub-contractors and material suppliers. Professional contractors must create a time line so as to accurately calculate the length of a project. You can create a time line yourself by just asking your contractor some simple questions. Some of these questions are as follows:

  • How many work days will each task take to complete?

  • What is the order in which tasks will occur?
  • What tasks must be completed in order for other tasks to begin?
  • What tasks can take place at the same time?
  • What materials must be special ordered?
  • How long does it take for specific special order items to arrive?
  • What is a realistic time frame to select materials?

When you have the answers to these questions, you can begin to create your project time line. If you have not done this before, you will need the assistance of your contractor. His input will be necessary with respect to those tasks which can take place at the same time. This aspect of a job is probably the most important, because it is here where you can compress your schedule and get the most amount of work done in the least amount of time. The number of tasks that can take place at the same time depend on many things. Scope of job, weather conditions, type of tasks to be completed, etc. all play a part.

The creation of the time line begins by using a large piece of graph paper. List the project tasks, in the order in which they occur from beginning of project to the end of the project, on the left side of your graph paper in a column starting at the top and proceeding to the bottom. Before you proceed any farther, you should have a general idea as to how many total days your project will last. This total should include days off and holidays. make sure that your graph paper from left to right has enough spaces or boxes equal to or greater than the amount of days you have calculated. Tape on an extra piece of graph paper if you need more spaces. You are now ready to begin your timeline. The tasks are listed on the left side of the paper vertically. The days of the week are listed across the top of the paper.

It is important to determine whether or not your contractor intends to work on weekends. You need to know this for a simple reason. If the workmen do not work on the weekends remember not to include these days as a part of your calculation. For example, let's say your contractor tells you that the demolition phase will take '7 workdays' and that his employees do not work on weekends. If the job begins on the first Monday on the chart, you would put a small circle in the 'Monday (M)' square of the first week and draw a line to the 'Tuesday(T)' square of the second week. It's that simple.

If your project is more complex, your chart simply gets bigger. You just have to list all of the tasks and the proper amount of days and/or weeks. If your project will take more than 2 months, you may choose to list weeks in place of days on the chart. When you do this, however, you tend to loose some detail in your planning. Beware, this will come back to haunt you.

One important aspect that many people forget to include on such a timeline chart is notation of when certain special order items must be ordered. This error is responsible for many project delays. You can overcome this error very easily. As I mentioned earlier, you must know the 'lead' time for special order items. That is, how long does it take to get the item.When you know this lead time and you know when the item must be on the jobsite from the completed time line chart, simply count back the number of days or weeks it takes to get that item and make a note in red on that day or week. For example,on our chart above, let's say that it takes 3 weeks for the particular carpet you selected to be delivered. That means that you must place the order for the carpet on the first Friday in the project while the demolition is occurring. What's more, your contractor should have informed you of this prior to the start of the project, so that you had enough time to go to several carpet stores. Can you imagine how you would react if the contractor came to you that Friday morning and said, "Oh, by the way, you need to select your carpet today so that I can stay on schedule." I'm sure that you now see the value in having one of these charts filled out at the beginning of a project!!

There are several ways to compress your job schedule so that you can finish your project in the minimum amount of time.The primary factor to consider is that of task overlap. This is where the professional contractor really shines. On any given project, certain tasks can occur at the same time. The ability of a contractor is measured by his or her ability to make this happen in a coordinated and timely fashion. For example, in a room addition project, the roof can be installed while the plumber and heating man are installing pipes and ducts below. These tradespeople generally won't be in each other's way. Also, just as soon as the roofer is completed working overhead, the brickwork or exterior siding can be applied as the electrician is working inside. I'm sure you get the picture.

Once you are convinced that you have an accurate time line chart, you must use it. You put it to use by printing enough copies for all sub-contractors and material suppliers. Highlight in color when each particular sub or special order item is needed. Give the appropriate copy to each person. This simple act puts them on notice as to when they are expected to arrive and work on your job.

In the event something goes wrong and you must adjust the schedule, you must inform all parties and 'push' all dates forward.If you do not do this, tradespeople and materials will arrive before you need them. This is very important to remember.

Although it may seem like a lot of work to make up a time line chart, it really is not. Believe me, when you have a realistic chart and people see that they are expected to be on your job on a certain day, they usually make it a point to be there. That's why they disappear from the other jobs!!! Make a timeline chart for your next project to make sure that your tradespeople don't disappear!!!

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