How to Reduce Construction Delays by More than 20%?

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A report by McKinsey and Company shows that construction projects usually incur delays of 20 months on average. As well as an 80 per cent overrun on budget.  Even worse, constructors have accepted this as a norm, which isn’t a good sign. 

You can’t blame them, though. Some inevitable causes of delays include adverse weather or epidemics like COVID-19. But these aren’t the only causes of delays. 

Construction delays are mainly brought about by administrative reasons, e.g. legal disputes, unpaid wages, cash flow issues, extra charges on materials, etc. 

Lack of preparedness is the main reason your construction project will likely be 20 months late. 

So, how do you minimize delays in construction projects? Well, that’s what this article is about. We give you every little detail you need to help reduce your budget’s overruns by at least 20 per cent. 

Let’s get right into it. 


Identify Potential Blockers and Delays

You must identify potential causes of delays and blockers. What’s the difference? While delays are those events that went in a different direction as planned, blockers are those events you have to complete first before taking the next step. 

For example, when it ends up raining, this delays your schedule. A two-day window to pour concrete is pushed back by one or two days. 

On the other hand, an example of a blocker is scheduling a mason to lay bricks. But you can’t move forward without having the foundation. 

You have to understand that construction is sequential. This means some things may not go as planned. You need to anticipate all these situations and plan how you’ll react to them. 

Take your time identifying every possible delay or blocker. Don’t stop once the construction is underway. You need to continue identifying other possible scenarios based on the ongoing project. 

Examples of delays and blockers include:

  • Additional costs on materials 
  • Legal disputes 
  • Labour wages 
  • Cash flow issues 
  • Damaged reputation  
  • Adverse weather 
  • Terrorism 
  • Epidemics like COVID-19 
  • National strikes 
  • Delays in permissions from relevant agencies 
  • Perils like floods and tsunami

Always Plan Ahead 

Now that you’ve identified potential delays and blockers, what next? The next step is planning. Don’t wait until the delays happen. You need to find solutions even before the delayed events take place. Make sure you have plan A as a solution and a backup plan if plan A fails. 

Most constructors rarely have clear timelines and finalized drawings on how to solve the delays. 

You ought to have a clear communication strategy with subcontractors. This way, you’ll find yourself at an impasse whenever delays occur. 

The project’s plan should be exhaustive. And it should include comprehensive details required to complete the construction in time. 

For a plan to be successful, you need to include contingencies for any unforeseen scenarios. Then create clear guidelines for how you’ll respond to the delays and blockers. You should be accounting for every variable that may cause delays. 

For instance, an overlooked cause of delays is faulty machinery. Make sure you have the latest and up-to-date construction equipment. This way, you don’t waste time on repairs and maintenance. 

Make Sure the Project Plan is Coordinative

You’ve identified the delays and blockers, and you’ve even found solutions and decided how you’ll react to the delays. But is that enough? 


You need to make the project coordinative. What does it mean? 

Well, it simply means it’s essential for the plan to be inclusive and its web spread across every department. Here’s when your management skills are tested. How great are you at coordinating the different factions of the construction project? You ought to assign roles and responsibilities to each subproject head or supervisor. Communication between these department heads and ensure nothing goes miscommunicated. Otherwise, wrong info may cause misinterpretation, thus resulting in delays. 

This helps you save time and money whilst saving on resources. As a construction manager, you should possess the skills to juggle different roles. 

Emphasis on Real-time Digitized Updates 

The keyword is “realtime”.

Make sure you’re keeping track of every little progress made. Have them digitized using the right and appropriate app. 

It’s estimated that constructors waste 40% of their project time on updates, attending meetings, and writing reports. But when the updates are real-time, there won’t be any time wastage. This also removes the blame culture where we tend to point fingers. 

Once everyone knows their roles and updates are made as the construction progresses, then you won’t have to worry about delays. Digitized updates help the team plan for the following process. Each subcontractor knows what’s waiting the next day. And thus, plan accordingly. 

The updates are also significant evidence of every step made during the construction. It helps avoid unnecessary legal issues that may arise. Evidence will be there if anything needs proving. 

Also, the updates act as reference points, which keeps subcontractors and supervisors on the same page. 

Assign Clear Roles to Avoid Confusion 

The last thing you need is confusion regarding the roles of the subcontractors and employees. 

You don’t want Team A assuming that Team B is pouring cement on floors 2 and 3, yet they were only supposed to work on floors 4 and 5. 

Such confusion can take you back a few days. Therefore, each role and assignment should be clearly defined. You ought to understand that construction projects have several employees. If some of the employees don’t understand their roles, they may end up ignoring specific tasks. Hence delays. 

The team supervisors should also have their roles comprehensively designed. Ensure they’re all accountable. This puts pressure on employees and team supervisors to focus on their duties. What if you didn’t anticipate such confusion initially and only notice it during the project? 

The best way is to get the involved people in one room and talk it through. It helps further mitigate delays due to assumptions and ignoring duties. 

Establish a Single Source of Information 

It’s more or less a reiteration of the digitization concept. But with a human involved. Working in a sequential project like construction tends to open the door to misunderstandings. 

As expected, this causes delays. That’s because each stakeholder has their version of the truth. This is the last thing you need as a project manager. Assign one person to keep track of everything and everyone. That’s the sole purpose of this individual. 

He or she keeps track of the real-time updates while monitoring what each team is up to. This makes it easier to solve any issues or misunderstandings. 


As you can see, while some delays are inevitable, most are human errors caused by a lack of better planning and poor management. 

You simply need to be systematic and strategic. And always have a real-time update on every little progress you make. 

Every team should always be on the same page, as you have a centralized system where you monitor everything. Also, ensure your construction machinery is up to date and well maintained. 

Ref: 3023.26584 

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