Project Scheduling and Coordination

One of the most important aspects of contracting your own home improvement project is the scheduling and coordination of subcontractors and material shipments. Without the proper organization, your job is destined to fail. This is especially true when it comes to your subcontractors. There is a sequence of events concerning the different trades which must be done in order for the job to flow. For instance: Plumbers and electricians must complete work within the walls and have the proper inspections done before the drywall crew can cover it up. Painting and drywall must should be complete. Each job is different, especially in remodeling, but there is always a proper sequence in which things should be done. Failing to follow it, will lead to chaos. As the project manager, it is your job to make sure the subs stay in order and don't conflict with one another's work. As a rule, each subcontractor is only concerned with his individual phase of the job and has no problem with getting ahead of and causing problems for the others. But, when this happens, it will cause problems and delays. Before starting the job, you should schedule a pre-construction meeting with all of the subcontractors. Give each one a chance to let you and the others know what he needs to happen, and in what order, to complete his part of the work as efficiently as possible. Take notes of what each guy says and don't be shy about asking questions. Usually, the contractors can work the scheduling issues out amongst themselves. However, there are often subs who will try to takeover and manipulate the job to his benefit. As the leader, you can't allow this to happen. You must make it clear from the outset that you expect everyone to work together and cooperate and that you won't accept any less. Then, as the job progresses, you must stand by that expectation. After the pre-construction meeting, prepare a written schedule based on the discussions and give copies to everyone. Ask them if they have any issues with it before you finalize it. If there are issues, get feedback from everyone on how the proposed changes will affect them. This can be a frustrating process if you have difficult personalities involved. But it's important to have everyone in agreement before beginning work. If that doesn't happen, you run the risk, when problems arise of having some say "I told you it wouldn't work before we started." Also keep in mind, you are the boss. You're the only one who really cares about the final result. To everyone else, it's just a job.

The other key factor in project scheduling is; the timing of material and equipment deliveries. It's important to determine, prior to beginning the work, if there are any needed items that will have to be special ordered and, if so, make sure that enough lead time is given to prevent delays in the job. Keep in mind, the actual wait time for these orders will often be even longer than what is quoted. So it's crucial that you get everything on order as soon as possible. If the subs are ordering the materials, ask for regular updates and copies of order confirmations and tracking info. Just explain that you having copies helps you keep track of the overall job. Delays in deliveries and shipping cause more projects to miss deadlines than anything else in construction.

Following a written schedule will make a big difference in the success and completion time of your job. There is just something about putting it in writing that makes it more official and carry more weight. For an in depth manual for contracting your own job, check out our Do It Yourself Contractor Kit.

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