5 Things a Contractor and Homeowner Should Know About  Building a Construction Schedule

The construction schedule is an important and too often overlooked tool. A lot of time is
put into preparing the construction schedule, sometimes for “show”, other times to meet
contractual obligations. But, if not contractual, why is it required? Too often the clients
do not understand it, the superintendent ignores it and it rarely gets reviewed or
updated. There are plenty of more important things to do. Yet there is really nothing
more important than planning, as humans we plan everything. Morning schedules,
workout plans, vacation plans, and even a retirement plan. Plans may fall apart yet we
only know this because we had one in the first place.

Who Plans the Construction Schedule?

Who should prepare the construction schedule?  The obvious answer is the contractor
and since this is a team effort there should be team leader input into the preparation.
The architect is often a critical element of the pre-production construction schedule that
is often overlooked. As each activity is added – a preliminary and subset schedule is
being created.   Shop drawings and submittals, and there should even be an entry for
buying out materials and setting up contractors with vendors.

We know that long before the steel arrives on-site there are agreements to be
negotiated, shop drawings prepared and reviewed. These elements should all be
included as part of the schedule because conflicts here can lead to delays down the
road. If the schedule says shop drawing will be submitted for 10 different trades the
same week, does the architect have the resources to adequately review and respond?
How many resubmissions are anticipated? This will all impact fabrication and the start of

What Exactly Is a Construction Schedule?

What exactly is the construction schedule? This sounds like a daft question, it is the
time sequence for the work. Obvious, right?   Time and sequence on the schedule are
two distinct elements, how long will it take, and when will it be done. Weather, scope
changes, and a long list of unforeseen conditions can impact the time, sequence, or

both. The schedule is the road map to your destination and when any of these obstacles
present themselves you will need to find an alternate route. This is why updating is so
important, you can’t change a plan you do not have.

Where Does the Schedule Get Published?

The schedule should be everywhere because everyone should be working from it:

  • Client – Material selections, consultant coordination, move-in
  • Architect – submittal schedules
  • Project Manager – Buy-out schedule
  • Superintendent – Day to day operations
  • Subcontractors – Planning and coordinating

Everyone should have access to the schedule all of the time, it is the plan of action. The
drawings are the destination but the schedule is the road map everyone needs to follow.

When Should the Schedule be Prepared?

The schedule should be one of the first elements to be worked on once the project is
released. It should be reviewed weekly, and updated at least monthly. In addition, it is
good practice to keep a shorter three-week look ahead schedule available for the
intricate details that need attending to. Remember this is an important planning tool and
should not be ignored.

Why is a Construction Schedule Necessary?

For the most part the why has been spelled out yet the financial aspect cannot be

Fixed price contract: On a fixed price contract the schedule is the key to the
contractor’s profit as time is money and resources tied up on a project dragging on is
not making any more money.  For the client to understand the schedule impacts will
have a ripple effect on their consultants, decorators, landscapers, movers, etc.

Cost-plus contract: For the client, the schedule is money since you share in the risk, as
the project time extends so does your cost. For the contractor, it is opportunity costs.

Everyone and everything is impacted by the schedule, understanding it and
rescheduling as necessary are vitally important to timely completion. Making sure the
vendors, suppliers, and subcontractors know what and when work is expected is a key
to smooth progress.

Oftentimes homeowners will hire an Owner’s Representative to assist with managing
the cost, schedule, and coordination of all the entities working on a custom home
building project and we are happy to provide that service – to schedule a free
consultation reach out to me (Duane Barney) at 203-826-8096.

If you are a contractor in need of business coaching to streamline your construction
schedule, I am happy to assist with that as well – fill out a form to schedule a free
consultation by clicking on the “contact us” button above, or give us a call on the phone
number listed above!