November 16, 2021

A Risky Business - Minimising Construction Project Delays

When it comes to construction projects, delays tend to be an inevitable fact of life. Analysis of many wide-ranging reports that tackle the issue of construction delays reveals that almost a third of contractors anticipate their projects are subject to overrunning.

Delays can hit anyone within the construction industry, ranging from primary contractors to consultants, designers, or subcontractors, and several reasons continue to repeatedly crop up.

Sand Timer

Causes of construction project delays

The major consistent causes that frustrate the construction industry are:

Flaws in the original planning

Insufficient preparation, a poor management strategy, an ill-advised project work breakdown structure and miscalculations can all contribute to a delay.

Unrealistic scheduling

Short timelines often result in competing contractors setting deadlines that are impossible to achieve. Similarly, contractors can be issued predetermined timelines that are unrealistic.

Specifications keep changing

Adjustments made to the original design or choices of materials are not unusual, but the impact on an already strict schedule can have severe financial implications and stall the project.

Imperfect project information

Failure by the client to provide all the relevant information about the construction site, such as the necessary drawings, design documents, or approvals, inevitably triggers delays.

Stormy weather

As we enter an age of increased risk from extreme weather events, it is no secret that the construction industry knows all about how the weather can cause construction project delays.

Furthermore, with demand increasing across the globe and the UK importing many of its raw materials, not only is demand outstripping supply but prices of materials are also rising. The Office for National Statistics is projecting a rise of 7%-8% in material prices, with increases for certain materials, such as timber, expected to more than double during the year.

A ‘perfect storm’

The global construction sector quickly regained momentum after a brief lull as a result of Covid-19 and as a result, the demand for materials has outstripped supply.  

The supply chain was interrupted as many suppliers across the world were forced to halt production as a result of local lockdowns. These manufacturers are facing additional challenges where, despite calls from the Construction Industry Council and the Road Hauliers Association, the Government has refused to ease restrictions on foreign workers, meaning there is also a shortage of lorry drivers.

This shortage of materials coupled with delays in shipping has caused the cost of building materials to spike.

As an example, timber stock in some sawmills is the lowest it's been in 20 years; bagged cement has seen an increase in cost by 15%; and plastics and steel are still recovering from their Covid-impacted production levels.

Managing the risk of construction project delays

Despite the challenges mentioned above, many of these elements can be managed. Reducing the threat of a delay is done best through proper planning and sound project management, underpinned by the power of construction software solutions.

As per the ResearchGate report, those in the industry accept that the risk of delays in construction projects is high. The findings in this survey stressed the importance of all parties being on the same page and receiving relevant information and documents concerning works. Not just before they commence but throughout the life of the build.

In summary, they offered four overall pathways to mitigate construction project delays:

  1. Communicate: Effectively improve the information flow before the work starts and then keep communication lines open. Many delays are a result of poor communication practices. Communicate early and often.
  2. Prepare properly: Before operations begin, have a clear plan, ranging from scheduling and project management practice to payment methods and dates.
  3. Cohesion: Work using a cohesive approach by exercising quality monitoring and offering regular updates to all parties involved.
  4. Budget: Time is money. So, all parties should agree to stick to a set budget governed by an agreed schedule.

Construction software to mitigate delays

The research participants were unanimous in their thinking that the best way to enable these points was through the use of construction software platforms. Software platforms help set new standards for communication, collaboration, and visibility and it's this thinking that drives our mission here at Payapps

Access to real-time data and multi-party collaboration are essential factors in the success of a construction project. Live updates on variables such as materials, worker status visibility, project progress, productivity, payment status, and timeline transparency are vital to stop delays from happening.

Payapps helps put the entire construction payment process on rails, helping all parties gain clarity on payment status, project progress, and budget performance - dramatically reducing the chance of payment-related project delays.

Next steps for minimising delays

For more related information on this topic, read our guide on Avoiding Disputes & Adjudication in the construction industry and learn how to side-step the serious delays that might occur as a result.

You can also schedule a demo of the Payapps platform anytime to discover how Payapps can streamline your financial processes, boost visibility into your projects, and help you avoid common issues and delays.