After 35 years in the construction supply industry, I have identified one constant principal that is paramount for completing a successful building project — time management. Whether you are the project owner or a contractor, time wasted on a construction project can be costly. The old adage “time is money” is true.
An inexperienced project owner or contractor may chase a nickel savings on a 2x4 stud to save money instead of focusing on time management. A dime per-piece savings on wall studs is worth about $50 for a typical new home but a carpenter’s wages, for example, is worth about $200 for just one day. Saving small amounts of money is not worthwhile if larger sums are lost due to improper scheduling. Too many lost days of work can add up to huge cost overruns. A project behind schedule costs more in financing and may force a property owner to make costly arrangements for other accommodations while the project is completed.
Good time management means hiring the right subcontractors, scheduling, and proper organization. Don’t make material buying decisions over nickels and dimes. Those decisions disregard quality, warranty, and service. A load of materials shipped even one day late can put your project in the back of the line because your subcontractors will go elsewhere. The biggest question you should ask, even before price should be, “Can I get it on time and when I need it?”
Hiring the right subcontractors will save you time and money. The best subcontractors don’t play any games on a job. They want to get on the job, have their material there, build it right and go to the next job. Most importantly, great subcontractors want to be paid on time. If your contractor is using “price-driven” subcontractors your job will probably be delayed and the work will likely be unsatisfactory.
Staying staunchly focused on a schedule prevents theft. Great framing crews understand how to schedule it and nail it up when they get it. Thieves love property owners and contractors who build slowly. With plywood hovering around $15 per sheet and a typical wall stud around $3, it doesn’t take long to figure out why materials laying around on a job disappear. Honestly, the material for a neighbor’s storage shed in many subdivisions is typically provided by the poor soul building a new home.
Another important benefit to good time management is the property owner’s mental health. When a project is delayed, the property owner will begin to lose trust in the builder and relationships will begin to sour. High anxiety is common in building projects and the best way to calm nerves is to get the job done right and on time.
Now to be clear, fast building times don’t always equate to savings. It is a costly mistake when the property owner hires the lowest priced subcontractor and ignores quality. Unfortunately, that occurs way too often. You can tell you have a great subcontractor crew by their attitude when they walk on the job. Top subcontractor crews are all business and every member of the crew immediately knows what to do without being instructed.
For any project a property owner should verify their contractor’s credentials and references and then establish a real construction schedule that has consequences. Until the property owner receives the Certificate of Occupancy, the meter is continuously running. Don’t forget — time really is money.
Don Magruder is the CEO of Ro-Mac Lumber and Supply Inc., and he is also the host of the “Around the House” radio show heard every Monday at noon at My790AM WLBE in Leesburg.