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Construction Project Scheduling -
The Planning Phase

 

Construction project scheduling for home building projects has two facets - developing the plan, and using the plan (daily scheduling). The plan has several functions - the most important of which is to save the owner builder money by helping him build the home in the shortest time possible.

By developing a building schedule - a plan, the owner builder knows in advance when every facet of the job is to begin and when it should be completed. This is a planning function, and is carried out before the job is begun.

By preparing construction project scheduling in advance, you, the owner builder, are able to schedule subcontractors and materials deliveries so that the proper sub and the necessary materials arrive when they are needed, which in turn will allow you to save time, money, and hassle.

The construction project schedule is also a good tool to show potential lenders, demonstrating that you are well organized, and that you understand the construction process completely.


THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CONSTRUCTION PROJECT SCHEDULING AND DAILY SCHEDULING

Construction project scheduling could more aptly be called Construction Schedule Planning as this is where the plan is crafted. It simply shows the sequence of building activities (which activity follows which activity) and which ones can be going on at the same time. It also shows how long each activity should take to complete. Simple, huh? Don't worry. We're going to show you how it's all done!

Armed with this information (your Construction Project Schedule), you will be able to carry out the Daily Scheduling - a day-to-day activity that runs throughout the construction process.

The daily scheduling involves getting subs and materials to the job site when they are needed.

SETTING DEADLINES
You, as the owner builder, need to have specific deadlines for getting things done. Otherwise, your home building project might drag on for years! With good planning and a reasonable amount of effort on your part to keep things moving along, you should be able to complete your home in less than a year.

A good reason not to let it drag on forever is the interest you’ll be paying on the construction loan. This can get pretty expensive towards the end of the project when you’ve borrowed most of the construction loan.

Also, once things start to drag, it is often hard to pick the pace up again. Subs have moved on to other jobs, and it’s hard to get them back to finish things up. So, as the old saying goes, plan your work and work your plan!

A WORD OF CAUTION
Do not let this subject throw you! The sequence of events in building a home is really very simple. It includes:



  • Clearing the Lot
  • Footings and Foundations
  • Framing
  • Windows and Exterior Doors
  • Plumbing, Mechanical, and Electrical Roughs
  • Siding, Roofing, and Exterior Trim
  • Insulation and Drywall
  • Interior Doors and Trim
  • Cabinets, Tile, and Glass
  • Painting, Paper, and Floor Coverings
  • Hardware, Equipment, and Fixtures
  • Finish Plumbing, Mechanical, and Electrical
  • Finish Grading and Landscaping


If you are only building one home, the schedule planning presented on this page and on those linked to it could conceivably be skipped entirely. If you simply took the above list as a guide and proceeded to build your home, you wouldn’t go too wrong.

You’ll lose some construction time and a little money. Remember that when you are dealing with borrowed funds - time is money! Some small builders just play it by ear - keeping it all in their heads. So don’t get up tight if this material seems a little complicated.

But we wouldn't recommend that you skip this step in your home building adventure. It is a great feeling to know weeks or months in advance when you'll be needing certain subs or materials on the job.

And as I said before, it'll really help you coordinate the coming and going of subs and materials. Nothing upsets subs more than to get to a job site and find that it's not ready for him.

Or to find that the materials he needs have not arrived.

Or that you have scheduled too many subs on the job at the same time and they're in each other's way! So again.

Plan your work and work your plan!



residential construction scheduling

Here's a summary of a couple of systems that have been developed to help builders have greater control over the building process. Either system can help you, the builder, keep track of what activities are upcoming and when they can be scheduled (when subs and materials need to arrive).

The systems we will present as the most useful for the owner builder are the Critical Path Method (CPM) and the Bar Chart.

CRITICAL PATH METHOD
The Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) was developed in the late 1950's for the U.S. Navy's Polaris project having thousands of contractors. The Pert Diagram has the potential to reduce both the time and cost required to complete a project.

In 1957, DuPont developed a similar project management method called the Critical Path Method (CPM).

It was developed to address the challenge of shutting down chemical plants for maintenance and then restarting the plants once the maintenance had been completed.

It was quickly adopted by the construction industry to manage complicated projects. You can imagine how important scheduling must be on the construction of a skyscraper in central Manhattan. Storage space for materials is extremely limited, so steel that must be ordered and fabricated months in advance and reach the job site on the precise day it is to be installed.

It was to solve this kind of scheduling nightmare, that the Critical Path Method (CPM) was developed.

 

HOW IT WORKS
Briefly, what is done in the Critical Path Method is to identify all of the activities required to complete a project. These activities are then put together in a kind of flow chart which shows the order in which they must occur.

Some activities must follow others (you have to frame the house before you can put the roofing on), while some activities can be happening at the same time (the landscape sub and the wallpaper hanger will not interfere with each other, and one’s work is not dependent on the completion of the other’s).


You can readily see from the diagram above that a delay in some activities may delay the start of the succeeding activities. If a delay occurs in a critical activity, the completion of the job will be delayed.


Understanding which activities are critical will help you to keep the construction moving along. Here's more on how the Critical Path Method diagram works.

THE BAR CHART
In the early 20th century Henry Gantt developed a simple graphical method of scheduling activities now called the Gantt Chart or more popularly the common Bar Chart. Bar charts can be generated by a variety of software programs including Microsoft's Excel and Microsoft Project. Another construction project scheduling software package you might want to look at is AdeptTracker. Both programs offer a free trial download.

Home Building Bar Chart Schedule Example

The bar chart is a simplified way of presenting or viewing some of the same information manipulated in the CPM.

The Bar Chart differs from the CPM in several ways. For one, it does not show any dependencies. I realize you may not know what that means yet, unless you clicked ahead to get a sneak peak at the details on the CPM. What it basically means is that some activities (e.g. framing) cannot start until other activities (the foundation) are completed. Therefore "framing" is said to be "dependent" on completing the foundation.

The CPM diagram shows these relationships, while the Bar Chart does not . . . as you will see when you examine the details of both types of recording your construction project scheduling.

There are other differences we will point out on their respective pages.

Here's a pretty good book on bar charts. 

Bottom line: it doesn't matter which you use. As long as you do the planning, the method you use is not that important. Follow these links to the CPM and Bar Chart pages for more details on each method and instructions for putting your own construction project schedule together. I prefer the CPM just because it provides more useful information when it comes to the day-to-day scheduling. But you can use either!

Moving On!

When you've mastered your construction project scheduling it's time to move on to construction! You have gotten yourself pre-qualified for the financing you will need, you've prepared a budget for your project, found and purchased your lot, gotten your plans and specifications prepared, completed your cost estimate, and planned your construction project schedule.

Now it's time to secure your construction loan, get your permits and start construction. We're going to start by giving you a walk through of the entire Building Sequence. Click here.


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