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  • Writer's pictureDon Magruder

Don’t Get Ahead of Yourself on Projects

With the supply disruptions and labor shortages this summer, many construction project schedules are in disarray. Long gone are the days of tight schedules and deadlines, and in exchange, you’ll find chaos and individuals begging for materials and craftspeople to show up on jobs. With all this new uncertainty in scheduling, many homeowners and builders that are desperate to keep jobs on schedule will try to perform job scopes out of order. This sounds like a good idea until something is damaged or removed by another trade working on the job, and the scope of work must be redone.

Here is a good rule to remember on most jobsite projects regarding the sequence of tasks: Scopes of work should be done from the inside out and up to down except for foundations. Let’s go through the typical stages of most construction projects.

First, you need a strong foundation. Leveling dirt, installing footers, packing dirt, putting in rough plumbing, and pouring cement are the usual first steps. Rough framing or laying block walls is next, followed by roof truss installation and roof decking along with felt and shingles.

Next, windows and doors are installed followed by siding which generally means the project is ready for a dry-in inspection. After the house has been dried-in, the home’s main electrical, plumbing, and HVAC are positioned in the walls followed by insulation and drywall. Once the drywall is installed, the door and moulding installation inside the home will take place. Next, painters will complete the first interior painting. From there, flooring can be installed, followed by the completion of finished electrical, plumbing, and HVAC along with any cleanup and final painting. If everything goes well, your project is complete.

But, what happens if the windows you need for your project are 23 weeks out? Roof trusses could be out 6 months, or worse, the electrical panel box needed is on backorder with no delivery date. What do you do?

These supply chain disruptions are the reason why you see so many new homes sitting, and why impatient homeowners and builders are having scopes of work done out of order which is creating more headaches.

Despite the pressure of timelines, be very careful putting scopes ahead of schedule because in some cases you will be paying for the job twice and spending more time redoing the work.

For example, it is real tempting to have windows installed on a house if the walls are up and there is a delay in getting roof trusses. The problem is that roof trusses are very difficult to install and, in most cases, require a crane for installation which is very hard to control in close situations. There is a better than even chance that if windows are installed prior to the trusses, a window will be broken, and you will have to add another 23 weeks in lead times to replace it. It would be unrealistic to demand a person installing roof trusses, decking, or roofing to pay for a broken window that really shouldn’t have been installed prior to trusses going up.

At a recent jobsite, a painter completed a final wall paint before the ceramic tile floor was installed. As the floor was being installed some damage and grout splash occurred on the walls. Understand, installing ceramic tile is hard, dirty work and it is impossible for installers not to have some grout splash or damage. Unfortunately, the walls had to be repainted.

Also, don’t forget gravity when finishing the inside of the home. Working from the top down prevents drips, scrapes, and scratches from occurring on finished surfaces. Plus, most scopes of work are messy and at a minimum, your project will have a lot of traffic. Finished flooring, especially carpet, should be one of the last scopes on the project. Keep in mind, the finished products that you will be using on a daily basis like faucets, light fixtures, and other appliances will get damaged if rougher scopes still need to be performed on your job.

Here is another key factor to keep in mind - theft. If your project gets ahead of certain trades, there is a good chance something will have to be uninstalled and then the material is subject to theft or breakage. Installing material on a job with the knowledge that another trade will have to work around it or uninstall it is never a wise idea.

If you are doing a construction project in today’s supply and labor environment, you can expect delays and issues which will lead to angst and frustration. But don’t get ahead of other trades on your jobsite because it typically doesn’t turn out well. Staying in order of scopes may take longer, but you will have less problems, costs, or additional delays.

Don Magruder is the CEO of Ro-Mac Lumber & Supply, Inc., and he is also the host of the “Around the House” Show which can be seen at AroundtheHouse.TV.

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