10 Things to Avoid on Your Commercial Project – Item #6: Unrealistic Schedule

We all want things to happen yesterday, however, when it comes to designing and building a structure, setting an unrealistic schedule (a very short timeline) can yield disastrous consequences in every phase of the project. Let’s start with design: rushing your design professionals can lead to mistakes on the construction documents from missing design elements, to lack of coordination and lack of review time. If a short timeline is given during schematic design (the very first phase of design), then items from the program may be overlooked and not enough time will be dedicated to looking at the space from a functional or operational standpoint. It is important to allow enough time during this phase to be sure the design works before moving into design development and, ultimately, construction documents that are used for bidding and construction. There must be enough time for coordination – making sure all aspects of the design do not interfere with one another (i.e. MEP, structural, etc.) and review time by a registered architect – or there will be problems when it comes time for bidding and construction. Additionally, if your construction documents are missing details that cannot be priced during the bidding process, it will cost you more in the end with the contractor issuing change orders for items not included in their original bid. Unrealistic schedules during the bidding phase can be very costly if contractors do not have ample time to properly source and price the materials and labor for your project, they will inflate their numbers to cover items for which they can’t get pricing. Allowing enough time during bidding can yield dividends. Let’s talk construction: many owners will push an unrealistic construction schedule to get done in order to start operations on a specific date or in an attempt to push for an earlier opening. A realistic schedule that is agreed to by ALL parties is a necessity. If the general contractor is “behind the gun” from the beginning, he will be rushing and cutting corners to try and hit the deadline. This is not how you want an investment to be built. A better motivator is creating a bonus structure for finishing early. How do you set a realistic schedule? Communicate with your team early. Work with your architect (and contractor if selected) to establish a complete project schedule from design through occupancy. Developing what is known as a Gantt chart (a bar graph) schedule is a valuable tool for creating a complex schedule of interconnected activities.