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Scheduling Your Subcontractors
And Materials Deliveries

Orchestrating the symphony that is home building, the owner builder always has to struggle with the complexities of scheduling construction activities.

This section of our online course in home building for owner builders is where the plan you developed at planning of the construction project is put into action! You have already laid out the sequence of building activities (which activity follows which activity) and determined how long each activity should take to complete.

Here (on this page) we're not talking about planning. We're talking about implementing the plan! And we're going to use the Critical Path Method Diagram (CPM) to illustrate some simple methods of scheduling the day-to-day activities of subcontractors and materials deliveries.

You have done most of the difficult work in scheduling construction when you developed the Critical Path Method Diagram. Now it's a matter of implementing your plan. Again, the purpose of developing the Critical Path Method Diagram was to see how the home goes together sequentially, to see which tasks could overlap, and to be able to visualize it all over time. Now we will see how to use that Critical Path Method Diagram for day-to-day residential construction scheduling.

Using the Critic In Scheduling Construction

Look at the Critical Path Diagram example again. Notice the scale at the top of the diagram with each number representing one day.

Click here for a page of Calendar Strips.

The way you use these is to cut the strips apart and tape them together end-to-end. Next, write a date in each box, starting at the left end with the date you plan to start construction, and placing each succeeding day in the next column to the right. Omit Saturdays and Sundays.

Scheduling With Critical Path Method

The drawing above shows how to use the Critical Path Method Diagram and the Calendar Strips to maintain control of the project. The drawing shows the project starting on January 1. Notice that days 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18, 24, 25, and 31 are omitted in January. In this example, these are Saturdays and Sundays.

This doesn't mean that you can't work on weekends. In fact, those two extra days eachweek may be a good time for you to make up time lost to inclement weather or other delays. We just don't use those days for planning purposes. But that's just us. If you want to schedule the work six or seven days a week, be our guest. Finding subcontractors who will work that schedule is another matter!

If you will tape your calendar strip to the wall and put your Critical Path Diagram under it so that the current day's activities coincide with today's date (as shown in the illustration), you can easily tell on what date a future activity should occur.

Hanging a string or a strip of colored paper from the current date will create a Date Line. The Date Line will let you see immediately where you are in the project. Looking ahead you can schedule deliveries and subs for several weeks in advance.

If you lose a day, simply slide the CPM Diagram over. Be sure to advise suppliers and subs of the delay so that people and materials don't start showing up early.


Scheduling Strips

A large builder in the Southeast developed his own scheduling construction method. It's a Scheduling Strip. We have included the Scheduling Strip here. When these are cut out and taped together end-to-end, they form a simplified construction schedule. One of these Scheduling Strips is assigned to each home the builder has under construction.

The Scheduling Strips are lined up under a date strip according to where they are in the construction process. By hanging a Date Line from the current date, it is easy for the superintendent to see how to schedule his work on all the houses.

The Scheduling Strip doesn't show some of the relationships revealed in the CPM Diagram, but the superintendent knows the process, and it's enough to keep him on track.


electricianScheduling Subs

When you are ready to actually begin construction, you should contact all of your subs and let them know approximately when you will require their services. As the time draws nearer, you can give them a specific date.

If something happens to delay construction, be sure to notify your subs of the delay. One thing you don't want to do is have subs show up before you are ready for them. Once that happens, it tends to be a little harder to get them back when you need them.


Scheduling Materials

drywall truckScheduling of materials is a bit easier. Usually two or three days is sufficient time to get a delivery to the job site, unless fabrication is required.

A good example would be trusses, which typically take weeks to fabricate. wWhen pricing materials, find out which items are stock, which are special order, and the lead time for special order items.

Try to make sure the materials are on the job site before the subs arrive. Don't schedule both to arrive the same morning. Your subs will arrive at 7:00, and the materials won't show up until 10:30. You'll have some angry subs on your hands.

If you're expecting framing subs on Tuesday, have the framing materials delivered on Monday. The materials suppliers have to load their trucks and deliver their materials so that they make most efficient use of their equipment. They can't always guarantee delivery at a specified time, like "first thing in the morning."


For additional insight to the Scheduling the construction work,
see Lesson Thirteen of our online course
Successful Home Contracting

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