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April 25, 2023

4 Construction Planning Tips for Your Next Project

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Measure twice, cut once.” This simple adage emphasizes the importance of planning and preparation. The better prepared you are, the more likely your work will be accurate.

The same concept needs to be applied to construction projects — not just from a field installation perspective, but on a higher level as well. Project teams need to emphasize the construction planning and scheduling process, well before work begins on site. A properly executed project plan can yield great success. A project without a plan could be destined for failure.

In this article, we’ll cover the basics of what you need to know about the construction planning process. We’ll start by outlining what, exactly, construction planning and scheduling entails. Then, we’ll go over why the planning phase is so important. Lastly, we’ll touch on tips to help ensure a successful construction planning process. By the end of this article, you should have a much better understanding of why a strategic plan is critical for your next construction project.

Construction Project Planning and Scheduling — The Basics

Construction planning and scheduling refers to the process of mapping out the lifecycle of the entire project. It typically takes place after the design team has issued drawings and specifications. The planning process can entail:

The construction industry is very fast-paced. End-users and clients have needs for projects and turnover dates. Unfortunately, the planning phase is often compressed as a result. Though it’s easy to rush through the planning phase, doing so can have a considerable knockdown effect on the project.

Consider a recent report from the global consulting firm McKinsey & Company, which found that “large projects across asset classes typically take 20 percent longer to finish than scheduled and are up to 80 percent over budget.” Overruns are common in the construction industry, but a well-executed plan can reduce the likelihood of them occurring. Let’s take a closer look at why the planning and scheduling phase is a must for construction companies.

The Importance of the Planning and Scheduling Phase

Construction planning: chart and a pen

The construction planning and scheduling phase is important for a few reasons.

From a high level, planning can promote efficiency and thus prevent rework and cost overruns. As a basic example — what would happen if you allowed the drywaller to close walls before the electrical rough-in was complete? You’d likely have to re-open walls, and you may also have a lot of explaining to do to your local electrical inspector.

By taking the time to produce a well-thought-out plan, you can sequence your construction activities properly. This can keep your change order costs low. The cost associated with planning could pale in comparison to the cost of rework on a poorly managed job.

On a similar note, a proper plan can help keep workers safe. Planning can prevent trade stacking, which occurs when many contractors are working in the same area. Trade stacking can lead to both inefficiencies and an unsafe working environment. A quality plan can improve project workflows, streamlining labor efforts on site.

Construction planning and scheduling could also prevent delays. One of the key parts of this is procurement. What if you have a large piece of mechanical equipment that you need to get into the penthouse of a building, but it has a significant lead time? Can you weather-tight and close your building? Or will you leave your building open? How will this long-lead item impact building testing and balancing? By having this information upfront, the construction project management team can properly understand, plan for, and communicate key project activities.

Additionally, construction planning can reduce the risk of unlikely surprises. A thorough planning process forces all stakeholders to start thinking about the job. During the planning stage, the team identifies work tasks and the associated risks that could impact the project. By planning, these risks can be mitigated.

Lastly, planning can result in a more satisfied client. Planning allows general contractors to communicate more accurate project cost estimates and turnover dates. It also allows them to convey potential delays in real-time. Typically, clients are appreciative of this communication.

4 Tips to Execute a Successful Construction Planning Process

Now that you have a better understanding of why the construction planning process is so important, let’s take a closer look at some of the things that you can do to help improve the likelihood of success during your pre-construction efforts.

1. Create an Accurate BIM

Building Information Modeling (BIM) management is critical to your construction project. However, the BIM management process starts in pre-construction, during the planning phases. An accurate BIM captures design intent, pinpointing deficiencies within drawings which subsequently leads to requests for information.

An accurate BIM can also reduce the likelihood of clashes in the field, leading to a more efficient project. Lastly, having a trustworthy BIM as a starting point allows you to create a digital twin, which can help throughout the life of the project.

2. Secure As-Built Drawings

If you are working in an existing building, you’ll want to secure as-builts before project initiation. If as-builts are unavailable, you can use lidar scans to verify the existing conditions within the building. You can then use this information to create a BIM file that subcontractors can use to draw the new scope of the project.

3. Draft a Project Charter

A project charter, also known as a project initiation document, defines the objectives, stakeholders, and scope of the project. It is created with input from multiple team members, including the general contractor, end user, and potentially even the design team. This document should be considered “gospel” for the project, serving as a roadmap from start to finish.

4. Compile the Project Schedule With Subcontractor Input

The project schedule should be thorough, with input from all involved parties. As a general contractor, depending on the size of your project, it may be worthwhile to have a meeting with individual subcontractors to better understand their work breakdown structure. Once you better understand the respective scope of work of each trade on the job, you can then define key project progresses.

Gantt charts allow you to create project schedules while tracking critical paths and milestones.

Proper Construction Planning Can Lead to a Successful Project

Construction planning: engineers using a laptop

When it comes to construction projects, it’s often easy to overlook the planning process. However, doing so can lead to a more difficult project. Taking the time to properly plan and schedule a project can reduce inefficiencies, lead to more accurate pricing and turnover dates, keep workers safe, and ultimately produce a satisfied client.

The pre-construction planning process can involve things like creating logistic plans, identifying long-lead procurement items, and drafting a project charter. It should also include creating an accurate BIM file. An accurate model can help identify deficiencies in the drawings. This process is especially important if you are working in an existing building.

Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to help ensure an accurate BIM file. Avvir can aid in the reality-capture process, allowing you to pinpoint as-built conditions via lidar point cloud scans. Request a demo to see how Avvir can help with your pre-construction planning and scheduling efforts.

Men showing construction tool to group
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