At the risk of sounding like a cliché’, things aren’t always what they seem, especially on construction projects.  While the final building may look like flawless perfection, you can bet there were more than a few rocks in the road (see another cliché’) during the design and construction process.  One thing is for sure, developing technology and program sophistication will continue to increase the complexity of projects in the future, and those rocks in the road won’t be going anywhere . . . anytime soon.

Just what are these rocks in the road anyway?  Well, they can vary from project to project and party to party, but there are some that are always seen on the road, and yet they still seem unavoidable to some.  We’ve separated these “rocks” into the design and construction phases.  Some (but by no means all) of the design rocks include:

  •       Insufficient investigation of existing conditions
  •       Design and document production Schedule slips
  •       Insufficient documentation of communication and “approvals” between Owner and A/E
  •       Lack of Coordination of documents among the disciplines
  •       Bid was below design estimate or other bids

See, nothing too outlandish.  In fact, reading some of the above bullet points might have resulted in a collective, “DUH!”  But stop and think about some of your more challenging projects, and it’s a good bet that one of the five above was an issue.

But what about the construction phase?  I’m sure we could collectively list rocks during the construction process for hours on end, but that wouldn’t make for an entertaining and informative article.  So below are a few of the rocks we see frequently:

  •       Poor Schedule preparation and updating
  •       Design error is discovered
  •       Submittal review procedures are not followed
  •       Breakdown in communications
  •       Project is over-budget
  •       Project is behind schedule
  •       Poor REAL-TIME Dispute Resolution

I imagine another, “DUH!” from many of you.  And that’s a good thing because sometimes a simple fix is as easy as a tweak and twist of what’s already being done on a project.  And that’s the important thing isn’t it?

How is the risk management process going for your firm on today’s projects?  Increasing risk shifting measures by ALL parties on projects can results in the same old disputes rearing their ugly heads again, and again.  So being able to identify the rocks, clear them off the road, and continue smoothly along with the project and other parties involved is a big step in managing risk.  And don’t even get me started about boulders or potholes!

Jason Ulmenstine
Construction Process Solutions, Ltd.




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