A long year of pandemic-related circumstances has presented its fair share of challenges, which has only been compounded lately by an extreme shortage of key materials. Items like lumber, steel, and resins for paints and plastics are all in high demand, causing a new set of construction industry challenges for contractors of all specialties.
Where It Started
At the onset of the pandemic, nearly all construction projects came to a halt as the industry decided how to best proceed safely. Additionally, several extreme weather events including hurricanes and a crippling winter storm at the beginning of this year; all of which turned out to be a recipe for slowly-moving supply chains.
Additionally, housing markets across the country have been heating up with residential contractors barely able to build houses fast enough. Materials shortages drove up the average cost of new construction homes by $36,000 to a national average of $329,000.
What’s the Impact?
Simply put, many construction contractors are struggling to keep projects on track with the current policies and best practices they have in place. A growing pool of clients looking for contractors means bidding is competitive, and margins are already pinched due to materials shortages. Contractors are turning down work because of labor gaps, and stakeholders are demanding more of their return on investment.
If we’ve learned nothing else from the past year, it’s that we can’t ever pretend to know what’s coming down the pipe for the construction industry. Experts don’t quite know when or if the bubble will pop, but they do foresee an end to the chokehold on the supply chain within the next 12-18 months.
It’s bad enough for contractors when work slows or stops, but the lack of materials or labor can also lead to contract breaches and disputes. Not delivering on time or on budget can strain all relationships between collaborators on a jobsite, and these interactions can easily get litigious during a time when tensions are already running high.
Consider the Solutions
For many contractors, putting work on hold is just not an option in the absence of alternatives. Contractors had already future-proofed many processes due to the pandemic, but the severe shortage of materials has them seeking to do more. This is the time to call on your relationships with industry peers, vendors, and other contractors. Work with those who you can trust to supply what you need, when you need it, and those who will be transparent when they can’t come through for your project.
Optimizing the scheduling process is also an investment that a growing number of contractors are making. Construction scheduling project management includes the best-case scenarios, likely scenarios, and worst-case scenarios (like material shortages) to give you and the project team an accurate schedule to work by. Delays are mitigated or avoided by accurate project planning and management of various construction time windows.
One example of the tools used for scheduling is Primavera project portfolio management (PPM) software from Oracle — one of the world’s largest cloud vendors — which means its global network of service, support, and security accompanies its Primavera products. Contractors who use Primavera will save time and money, improve collaboration and communication, and scale up their processes easily. This is crucial when planning projects that may have deficits in other areas, like material or labor shortages.
We begin our partnership by developing a schedule to manage the work efficiently and cost-effectively and to minimize delays. Our comprehensive schedules are created to reflect realistic data from technical calculations based on years of experience and seasoned judgment. Our daily, weekly, or monthly updates ensure accurate reporting and facilitate enhanced communications. Your CPM schedule also provides a valuable project history as an insurance policy, it’s an important tool for preventing costly disputes and claims.
Ready to find out how you can mitigate the continued challenges faced by construction contractors and business owners? When you add Tom Wilson to your commercial construction project team, you bring 30+ years of experience in engineering and construction to your job site, as well as notable expertise in today’s sophisticated project portfolio management (PPM) software. Call us today for a consultation.