The costliest part of most construction projects is the waste that occurs on the jobsite from theft, poor cleanliness and workers’ disregard for supplies on the project. It is hysterical how construction project owners will chase the absolute lowest price on a 2-by-4 stud, then lose it tenfold because of poor jobsite management.
The two most important cost elements of any project are time and waste, not the cost of materials. The more time you spend building a project, the more labor it costs, and the more opportunities for bad things to happen like theft, accidents and construction damage. The best builders focus most of their energy on scheduling and project completion rather than saving a nickel on a 2-by-4. It is a lot harder to manage time. If you are hiring a contractor and they cannot layout and commit to specific schedules and timetables — beware.
Waste on the jobsite is something that occurs every hour of every day and there is absolutely no reason for it. Waste occurs when there are not any jobsite standards implemented by the contractor or project owner. There should be strict rules for every jobsite for damage, trash disposal, daily clean up, safety, conduct and care for the work of others. Too many times, the homeowner or project owner fails to discuss the standards they want on their jobsite and then get frustrated when they see a worker smoking a cigarette inside their home. If you don’t establish workplace standards and you leave workers to manage their standards and behavior, you will be disappointed.
Whether you are a homeowner or commercial project owner, here are some standards you should insist upon for your project:
- Ensure that Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety standards are being enforced on your jobsite. As the project owner, you can get entangled in a lawsuit if your jobsite has a major accident on it. Personal protective equipment such as hardhats, safety glasses, and gloves should be worn. It is imperative everyone working on the roof wear proper fall protection equipment. Plus, ensure flammable products are secured and properly stored.
- You should demand that your jobsite is drug, alcohol and tobacco free while under construction. If this standard is not set, your project will smell like cigarettes and there will be tobacco spit everywhere.
- Insist the installers take their trash with them. A huge expense in construction is trash disposal. Installers of appliances, doors, windows and other products can fill trash containers quickly. Instruct the subcontractors to dispose of their own trash.
- Every subcontractor should clean up their work area daily and secure all building materials on the jobsite. The job should be swept and kept clean. A dirty, trashy jobsite breeds damage and theft.
- Never have too much material delivered to the jobsite and be mindful that open jobsites are attractive to thieves. As soon as possible, secure your jobsite with a fence and locks, if possible.
- All workers on the jobsite should be respectful to your neighbors. The workers should not encroach on your neighbor’s property, block their driveways or play loud music.
- Visitors and gawkers should not be allowed on your jobsite. Post “no trespassing” signs and strictly enforce it.
- Workers should be instructed to never take any material off the jobsite, including scrap pieces of wood or plywood. There are countless number of sheds that have been built from building materials stolen from jobsites. Your definition and a worker’s definition of scrap wood or material could be completely different. No material should ever leave your jobsite.
- It is the responsibility of all workers to protect the home and materials on the jobsite. The last person on the jobsite should secure all doors and windows as well as ensure all exposed material on the jobsite is covered to protect it from weather.
- The project owner should insist that any changes to the construction project be approved prior, and one big standard is that the homeowner has the final say.
These are the basic standards. However, your jobsite may require some very specific issues because of geography or proximity in a development. It is your project and your standards — don’t be afraid to lay them out on the front end. Even though having standards means you may have to fire someone or financially penalize someone who doesn’t adhere to them, it will save you money on the project.
Set your jobsite standards at the beginning of the project and make sure everyone that steps foot on your project has a copy of them. High standards will save you time and money.
Don Magruder is the CEO of RoMac Building Supply. He is also the host of the Around the House TV show on LSTV and LakeSumterTV.com at 1 and 6:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; and at 7 a.m., Noon and 6 p.m. Saturday.