5 Tips for Managing Commercial Construction Projects

Many contracting businesses focus on the commercial construction market because of the specialized opportunities it offers. And the commercial construction market is booming. In 2018, 80% of commercial construction contractors reported steady or increasing backlogs, a number that signifies plenty of new projects bringing in new customers and revenue. Over half of all commercial construction contractors, 54%, expect to see increased revenues over the next year.

However, commercial construction can be more complicated than building single-family homes. Because of this complexity, commercial construction contractors have a particular responsibility to manage their projects rigorously and set themselves and their clients up for success.

It's impossible to overstate the importance of construction management. Many times, clients are new to construction projects. They may not know where to start or how to get a foothold in the process. Contractors can help immensely by keeping on top of the construction project scheduling.

As many seasoned contractors can attest, it is rare for any project to run precisely as planned from beginning to end. From deadlines to budgets to safety issues, and from handling bids to designing, coordinating and constructing, construction projects contain a variety of moving parts. 

Contractors must have the technical and management skills to juggle these moving parts adroitly and bring the project in successfully. Project management skills are also vital for effective communication between different teams involved in the process. and more and more aspects of construction project management have a digital component such as CAD, so commercial construction project managers need skills in this area as well.

All this may sound overwhelming, but a little planning can dramatically streamline the process. Below, we have outlined five tips for successful construction project management.

1. Set a Realistic Construction Project Schedule

Setting a realistic schedule from the beginning is vital to the success of any commercial construction project. Creating a realistic timeline helps clients maintain expectations and keeps client satisfaction high. From the very beginning, all workers and parties should be well-informed of deadlines and milestones, so no confusion exists about what should happen and when. 

Most commercial construction projects consist of a few typical steps. Of course, any project will have variation, and different obstacles may come up, but these steps provide a helpful rough outline about how the schedule will go.

  • Design: In the design stage, contractors are responsible for drafting plans for the proposed project. An engineer or architect will assess a proposed project based on the plans of the client and the regulations and codes that apply. The engineer or architect then creates sketches with specifications about the necessary equipment and materials. Ideally, they include proposals about costs as well.

  • Preconstruction: During preconstruction, contractors typically get the site ready for construction. They do this through processes such as performing soil tests, conducting site assessments and determining if environmental concerns are likely to pose difficulties.

  • Procurement: During procurement, the contractor works with vendors and subcontractors to purchase the necessary materials for construction. Establishing strong relationships with suppliers during this time is invaluable for streamlining and expediting the process.

  • Construction: During construction, the contractor is responsible for a wide variety of tasks. These can range from meeting with subcontractors and vendors, setting up site equipment, developing protocols for materials and handling, establishing safety measures and of course overseeing and coordinating construction labor.

  • Commissioning: This stage of the process takes place after the construction wraps up. During commissioning, the contractor team tests the components of the new construction and trains the new owner in the operation of any specialized systems of the new building.

  • Owner occupancy: At this stage of the project, the contractor turns the building over to the client, and the warranty begins to run.

  • Project closeout: Project closeout typically consists of wrapping up any remaining loose ends. At this point, the team finishes any last tasks, creates a project report and files the documents from the project.

Keeping a tight schedule throughout every stage of the process is often an essential factor for clients. Many clients require their contractors to submit detailed schedules. The clients then monitor the timelines closely to make sure the work is proceeding as planned. Both resource-oriented and time-oriented scheduling procedures are common, depending on the client and contractor priorities. Most scheduling software is time-oriented, though, focusing on deadlines and project timelines.

Advances in digital scheduling technology have been a boon to construction contractors. Formal scheduling becomes much more straightforward with easy-to-use personal computer software and web-based file-sharing programs. No matter what applications they use, contractors should be sure to manage their schedules meticulously to avoid needless conflicts and delays.

2. Plan the Budget

When contractors budget for a construction project, it is crucial to think ahead to every detail and account for the unexpected. By planning for problems and extra expenses, contractors can make sure they have enough room in their budgets and will not go significantly over the amount they have proposed.

some aspects of budgeting for a commercial construction depend on the type of bid selection at work. Construction projects can use a few different types of bid selection processes. Knowing what the client values in bid proposals is likely to affect how contractors budget for their bids.

  • Low-bid selection: Under this system, the client operates with the bottom line in mind. The contractor who submits the lowest realistic bid will usually win the contract.

  • Qualifications-based selection: Under this system, the client is typically more concerned with the contractor's expertise. The contractor's level of experience, management plans and proven track record of sticking to budgets and schedules will help determine whether the team win the contract.

  • Best-value selection: Under this system, the client generally uses a combination of bid value and qualifications, considering the total package. Whichever contractor offers the best value in terms of both bid and qualifications will likely win the project.

Contractors must also keep in mind the way they will negotiate payments. Payments can get disbursed in different ways: as a lump sum, as part of a cost-plus-fee system or under a guaranteed maximum price system. Knowing how the payment system will work helps contractors develop and stick to a realistic budget.

Budgeting for a commercial construction project involves considering several essential components.

  • Design: Before any construction can take place, an engineering or architectural team must draw up the plans for the building and all its systems.

  • Materials: After completing the blueprints, the contractor must purchase the supplies necessary to complete the project.

  • Labor: The building materials are only one small part of the construction expenses. The contractor must also pay the workers who perform the construction.

  • Surprise expenses: Maybe materials get delayed, and the contractor must order a rush shipment from a new supplier at extra cost. Or, perhaps weather-related damage forces the crew to redo some parts of the construction.

3. Manage and Organize Documents With Care

A crucial part of contracting for commercial construction is managing the documents and files associated with a project. Strong organization is vital so records are complete, people are adhering to protocols, information is readily available for sharing with members of different teams and everyone can follow plans to the letter.

Construction project managers are typically responsible for many deliverables. These can include a work breakdown structure, documentation, a risk-management plan and much more.

Studies have shown a link between poor documentation and higher risks of disputes, design changes, delays, reduced efficiency, cost increases and many other issues. Conversely, thorough documentation can help increase consensus, minimize design changes, boost efficiency and make sure the project comes in on time and under budget.

Additionally, organizing documentation with care is particularly crucial in helping project managers stay on top of OSHA regulations and prevent injuries. According to recent OSHA statistics, 20% of all work-related fatalities in the United States occur in the construction injury. Project managers must take care to minimize this statistic on their projects. Part of preventing construction injuries involves maintaining correct documentation of safety protocols and compliance with regulations designed to keep workers safe.

4. Be Proactive

It's essential to plan for unexpected eventualities to come up throughout a construction and contracting schedule — because they usually do. Setting realistic expectations is vital for helping manage these challenges.

For example, according to the most recent Commercial Construction Index from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 76% of contractors expect shortages of material to have at least a moderate effect on their business. Delays in material shipments crop up at a significant rate and can dramatically impact timelines, budgets and client satisfaction. Planning for such shortages and delays helps contractors develop backup plans so issues like these do not throw construction projects too far off track.

In any commercial construction project, strong communication skills are also essential. Studies have shown poor communication is a leading contributor to budget and time overruns in construction projects. Poor communication can involve either large-scale issues — that is, communication breakdowns between different teams on the project — or small-scale issues, such as communication barriers between various members of the contracting team. Either way, a lack of communication can lead to quality defects, untimely delivery of materials, incorrect designs and interpretation and having to redo work. Project managers must stay organized and communicate proactively to prevent issues like these.

Additionally, taking preventive measures against injuries on project sites is crucial. OSHA statistics reveal fall prevention standards are among the most frequently violated standards during construction projects. Taking proactive measures in terms of safety standards is one of the best things contractors and project managers can do to keep their work running smoothly. For example, project managers should take steps to do the following:

  • Guard open holes workers could fall into.

  • Provide guardrails and toe boards around all elevated open platforms, floors and runways.

  • Provide safety harnesses, safety lines, safety nets, stair railing and handrails where necessary

  • Keep floors clean and dry.

  • Provide personal protective equipment where appropriate.

Of course, worker safety is the No. 1 goal of proactive precautions like these. But keeping workers safe on the construction site provides ancillary benefits as well. If the construction proceeds without injuries, efficiency and productivity will remain at high levels, and the project will be more likely to finish on time and under budget.

5. Form Relationships With Quick, Quality Supplier

One of the most critical aspects of construction project planning and scheduling is forming strong, lasting relationships with supply companies. Developing trusted relationships with quick, quality suppliers offers numerous advantages for any commercial construction contractor. Suppliers who adhere to deadlines, keep their promises and are reliable in a pinch makes contractors' work much easier and more efficient. 

 

At DoorStop, these relationships are our specialty. Working with us offers several advantages.

  • Quick turnaround: Our standard lead times are two to three weeks year-round, compared with eight to 12 weeks for competitors.

  • Rush-order capabilities: Our "Door-N-24" one-day turnaround program offers rush shipping for clients on tight deadlines.

  • Customization: Our array of customizable options means customers end up with the finished products that are just right for them. Our custom-stocked and special veneers and finishes ensure customers get the right look for their project.

  • Special sizes: Our special sizes mean that though we can supply standard 36-by-84-inch doors, we also offer a variety of other dimensions, from 16-by-120-inch doors to anything in between. For our custom sizes, we never trim from standard sizes — we start from scratch to ensure high-quality finished products. Our per spec construction also offers full customization options — we can create any doors to clients' specifications.

  • Consulting: Our consulting services mean customers can ask questions of our seasoned professionals and get advice before sinking time and money into a project.

  • Kept promises and reliability: Our outstanding customer service makes us an essential part of our clients' construction projects.

Finishing touches like high-quality doors help make any commercial construction project stand apart. We offer several different types of doors so our clients can find the right style for their project. Our doors include the following types of constructions.

  • Flush wood doors: These can be slabs, fully machined doors or pre-hung lumber. Our flush wood doors include a variety of construction options such as hollow cores, solid particle cores and structural composite lumber.

  • Stile and rail doors: These doors consist of a basic panel and four surrounding frame pieces known as rails. Our stile and rail doors are popular interior doors in many commercial construction projects.

  • Hollow metal doors: We carry an extensive collection of hollow metal doors, all ready to go at a moment's notice. We can also work with individual specs to create custom hollow metal doors for specific commercial construction projects.

  • Plastic laminate doors: These doors are most suitable for an interior business space. They feature a wide range of designs and a high standard of quality, all at a price point that will work for most budgets. Our plastic laminate doors come in a variety of finishes and patterns, including linear graphite, chocolate ash, lost pine, shadow ash, stone Alona and planked Texas walnut.

  • Fire doors: We can use our experience to modify our whole catalog of doors for use as fire doors. Each of our doors can come with a 20-, 45- or 90-minute fire rating.

Quality construction, attractive options and quick turnarounds are not even the only advantages we offer. Green initiatives also help give our clients added options and peace of mind about sustainable sourcing and construction. Our green initiatives provide the following benefits:

  • FSC certification for our pure- and mixed-product classifications

  • Local manufacturing within a 500-mile radius of our location

  • Natural agrifiber cores

  • Zero formaldehyde

  • Low-emitting material containing either no or very low amounts of volatile organic compounds

  • Use of preconsumer recycled materials

Embark on a Quality Business Relationship With DoorStop Today

At DoorStop, we take pride in developing long-lasting relationships because we are invested in creating customers for life. We want our customers to keep coming back to us for doors they can rely on to look good and hold up well in their projects. We are ready with options to help our clients keep their timelines and budget running smoothly and maintain customer satisfaction.

Potential clients can use our online form to request a quote or visit us at our New Jersey factory outlet or New York City showroom to see what we are all about.

Contact us to begin a business relationship with a supplying partner you can trust for quality, timely products and a high level of personalized service. Call us today, or fill out our online contact form.

 

 


 

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