CONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENT TIPS FROM PROFESSIONAL SERVICES CONTRACTING, GENERAL CONTRACTORS
An Effective Construction Supervisor
Professional Services Contracting supervises all projects ranging from Whole House Remodels, Complete Apartment Renovations, Complete Townhouse Renovations, Private Home Extensions & Additions, Complete Apartment Building Renovations, Conversions of existing spaces, & New Construction for Residential & Commercial Projects.
The main difference between the success or failure of a remodeling, renovation, or construction project for the most part falls in the hands of the construction supervisor. At Professional Services Inc. the construction supervisor on every single project is someone who in the past, has worked along with his crew with his own two hands for many years. He is also the owner of the company. Mr. Nicholas M. Ricci.
So many construction companies and individuals place endless amounts of blame for low productivity on the job site on their employees, or other factors such as waiting for materials, the weather, and so on. A client consistently hears comments like, I can't do anything about the speed of the progress on this job, labor and building rules dictate productivity on your renovation. In most cases, this type of statement is simply untrue and unfounded. The job supervisor runs the project! How this person manages and runs your project is unquestionably the difference between a productive project which moves along nicely, and nonproductive project which takes forever to complete. There are a few exceptions and real legitimate excuses when working in a co-op or condo building. See Our Co-Op, Condo Page for More Information on this.
If you asked a few different supervisors to oversee the same project, the time it would take to complete the project and the final cost of the project would be different for each of the few that ran the project. The difference between the completed project time and final cost would be defined as the impact of the supervisor; how good of a job did he do.
Professional studies have shown that on a daily basis the supervisor makes anywhere from 5 to 100 decisions a day on your renovation project (Depending on the size of the project) which affect the completion time and final cost of the project. Some of these decisions, such as decisions regarding the process of a particular installation method, are apparent. But decisions such as what time float out self leveling cement to level out a concrete slab, while seeming less important, also affect project productivity, completion time, and final cost.
Regarding the extreme importance of the project supervisor or construction manager, a client can, and should, ask themselves the question, how will the company I am thinking of hiring handle my project for me, what are the qualities, characteristics, or set of skills of the construction supervisor who will oversee my work? Professional Services Contracting provides the answers to your questions below.
Technically competent, knows how to build
You must realize the value and importance of the construction supervisor knowing how to build from actually doing it with his own two hands for many years, it is critical that he is technically competent. Regardless if it is general work such as installing gypsum, or specialized work such as electrical work, the construction manager must know all the ins and outs of the construction process. In this regard, there is no substitute for real actual work experience.
The construction process is a complicated one, one that requires considerable technical knowledge in many areas, and for many different trades. The supervisor will seldom get the respect he deserves in this regard unless he has done the work throughout his life as well with his own two hands. Given the numerous constraints or factors such as weather, various city or town regulations, and labor work rules, one might suggest that the construction manager needs to be smarter than a supervisor in any non-construction industry.
Challenges and critiques as well as monitors work
Studies have shown what Is characterized as the "four hour work day" in construction. In other words, on larger projects as much as 50% of the typical construction workday is nonproductive. There are numerous reasons for this nonproductive time. Included are inadequate project planning and scheduling, equipment breakdowns, poor communications, indecision, and ineffective material handling.
A 50% non-productive construction day is not as bad as it sounds. Things come up all the time on larger projects, clients make changes to the original scope of work, equipment breakdown's occur, deliveries of materials are held up, and so on. At Professional Services Inc. we keep this non productive time down to the bare minimum of 10%.
It is important that the supervisor of construction closely monitor the many workers and pieces of equipment he has at a project. He must monitor them in order to reduce this nonproductive time which we have mastered.
it is important that the effective supervisor challenge or critique the work process as well as monitor it. The supervisor should not accept a work process. He should be constantly challenging the work process looking for improvements to it.
Many approaches can be used by the supervisor to challenge, critique, and evaluate a work method. However, a simple approach such as the supervisor asking himself questions such as why are we doing the work this way, are there other ways, or can the work be done better at a different time or using different resources, can lead to the implementation of an improved work method. Overseeing and watching all phases of construction productivity closely can aid the supervisor in determining a more efficient or improved method of completing the work at hand.
Focuses on work production, cost, and risk
A good construction supervisor continuously focuses on work production when performing his role as the supervisor. He tries to produce as much work as possible (while also focusing on quality and craftsmanship). The supervisor tries to get his team to do as much high quality work as he can in any given specific time period.
Keep in mind, that the construction supervisor can not only focus on production. He must also focus on many other factors involved on your project, such as scheduling, deliveries, ordering materials, coordinating, etc. He must know exactly how to balance the many tasks involved on a construction project to ensure proper allocation of his complete management time. Consider the excavation and concrete work tasks. Excavation work can be performed for $2 to $5 per cubic yard. On the other hand, the labor and material cost combined for concrete placement work exceeds $80 per cubic yard. If excavation and concrete work is being performed today, and given the higher cost of the concrete work, you might argue that the supervisor should be focusing on the management of the concrete work.
The fact that the supervisor might not review the estimate or think "cost" might lead to a poor allocation of his own time. The supervisor must know and think cost when managing specific work tasks.
The supervisor must also think work or productivity "risk." Consider the process of placing a concrete foundation wall. It is a three-step process: forming the wall, placing rebar into the wall, and placing or pouring the concrete into the wall. The question is, "which of these three work processes has the most productivity variation?"
The answer is, forming. Owing to difficulties with the corner form, or with ties, or with aligning the forms, the amount of square feet of contact area of forming placed in any one hour can vary significantly. However, if you were to observe the three work processes, the day that everyone appears to be supervising the work closely is the day the concrete is being placed. You could argue that the day the workers are placing the forms is the day that the contractor makes or loses money. It's critical the supervisor monitor the riskier forming work process. This scenario applies to all phases of construction work in all trades. The supervisor must have the knowledge and years of experience to prioritize and choose correctly each and every day throughout the entire project.
In short, in allocating a supervisors management and supervision time, it is important that the supervisor consider work production, the cost of several particular phases of construction, and productivity variation or risk. A review of the project cost breakdown will aid the supervisor in paying more attention to cost and productivity risk at the appropriate times.
Monitors tools & equipment
A good supervisor will always be concerned with nonproductive labor time at the job site. Given the fact that most individuals, especially the supervisor, know that a craftsman is making anywhere between $20-$35 per hour (without benefits), most of the attention focuses on keeping the craftsmen working. If a craftsman were standing idle for an hour or two, clearly the supervisor would inquire the reasoning for this.
While it is critical to keep workers in a productive state, it is equally important to keep all available tools & equipment ready and in working order at all times. Equipment and labor should be viewed as the resources a supervisor uses to be productive. In reality, the only difference between a piece of equipment and a craftsmen is their hourly rate or cost. Whereas a craftsman's hourly rate ranges from $20-$35, most construction equipment on larger projects rents or has an hourly ownership rate of $40 to $200.
If you were to analyze a project, you usually would find that the tools & equipment are in a nonproductive state much more than a craftsman. There are days or even weeks when a piece of equipment might stand idle at the job site, however, when needed, it must be in good working order so productivity is not held up due to faulty equipment.
Is attentive to timely and accurate record keeping
Accurate and Timely record keeping on the jobsite serves three major purposes:
·Provides the means of monitoring and controlling labor and equipment costs for an in-process project.
·Provides data and information for preparing future project estimates and plans.
·Provides the necessary documentation and support to prove facts or events.
The first two purposes should be enough incentive to pay increased attention to timely and accurate record keeping. The increased use of computers in the industry has enabled the contractor to better estimate and monitor construction time and cost. However, the computer and accompanying software is still only as good as the information gathered at the jobsite. The availability and use of the computer is making job site record keeping even more important.
Unfortunately, sometimes the supervisor only gets attentive to the importance of jobsite record keeping when they get involved in a dispute. Accurate and timely jobsite information is often the difference between a dispute or having the cold hard facts to stop a disbute dead in it's tracks.
The supervisor should be evaluated on many factors to include his safety record and ability to complete projects on time. However, the supervisor's attentiveness to collecting timely and accurate job site records should also be considered.
Treats individuals with respect and as equals
At Professional Services Contracting, we believe that an effective construction supervisor must show leadership and exhibit an authoritative type of management style every single day. However, while he must be authoritative, he must also treat his team members with the utmost respect and dignity. Labor cost represents as much as 80% of the total cost of a project. Given this high dependence on your labor force, the supervisor must be attentive to the needs of his laborers especially the on-site craftsmen.
Every team member on the jobsite must possess the following traits if they are to be a productive worker:
·A Measuring system to measure their accomplishments
·An open communication channel to their supervisor
·Incentives for going above and beyond their duties
The only difference between the construction supervisor and a craftsman is the approach to these four necessary traits. While the supervisor might measure his success by how much of the project can be completed in a more timely fashion, the craftsman might measure his success by his ability to meet a work budget. (Amount of dollars set aside in the original estimate to get a certain portion of the work completed). Similarly, while the supervisor might obtain pride in work by the praise he receive from his clients, the craftsman might take pride in work by being called out in front of his peers for having made a good work smarter not harder work method suggestion.
The effective supervisor recognizes his team members as equals. A good construction supervisor continually searches for ways of providing a working environment which provides each worker the four worker needs.
Is willing to try new ideas
Actual work experience is often cited as one of the most important characteristics in the construction process. However, if experience means being set in your ways and an unwillingness to change, it is not a favorable attribute at all.
At Professional Services Contracting the construction supervisor always remembers that a typical construction procedure might contain a high percentage of productivity improvement potential. In an industry that offers this much potential, the willingness to explore new ideas, to include new work methods, new approaches to assigning team members, and new assignments of responsibilities could turn out to be the distinct difference between increased productivity and the status quo.
In an industry over shadowed by low to average productivity and the potential to improve, we need individuals that are willing to try new ideas and not just willingly accept the inefficiencies of the past.
Is willing to work as a team member
The construction process is a process that requires individuals and firms to be dependent on one another. Any one contractor's ability to perform is dependent on another contractor at the jobsite. The designer's or architect's ability to meet his project goals is dependent on the cooperation and give-and-take attitude of the contractor and vice versa, and the ability of the construction supervisor to meet his goals is dependent on the cooperation of his subordinates and craftsmen.
Instead of creating an adversarial role, every individual in the construction process must respect and cooperate with the needs of other project phases. Unless everyone on the jobsite, to include the craftsmen, the supervisor, subcontractors, the general contractor, the designer/architect, and the project owner are willing to give and take a little here and there and work as a team with a common objective of completing a high quality project on time and on budget, the only winners could end up being the lawyers that will have to unravel the conflicts and disputes. Since the inception of Professional Services Inc., we are proud to say, that this scenario has never even come close to happening. As a matter of fact, if you talk to former clients they will tell you what an outstanding job we have done for them.
Places as much emphasis on planning as on putting out fires
Past industry work productivity studies performed indicate that as much as 25% of an eight-hour work day is nonproductive due to a lack of effectively planning and scheduling the work properly. The construction supervisor is directly responsible for this. If he is not effective at his job, he could expend most of his day putting out fires that result because of his direct inadequate planning.
Much of the putting out fires characteristic of the construction workday can be reduced by paying more attention to planning. This may entail procedures aimed at preparing a detailed overall project plan such as a critical path diagram or something as simple as setting out a work plan for the next day's work. Getting tools, equipment, and workers ready at the end of one day for work to be performed the next day can result in a major reduction of wasted idle time.
Is it possible to complete a construction project without planning? The answer is yes. Is it possible to complete a construction project for the least amount of time without adequate planning? The answer is a resounding "no!" Consider what would happen if someone blindfolded you, dropped you off in the woods, and told you to find your way back home. You might eventually get there, but you would not get there in the least amount of time. Professional Services Contracting is exceptional at managing your project and completing it to the highest degree of quality and craftsmanship. As General Contractors ourselves, we have an advantage over others when it comes to running our projects. The advantage is simply that we handle the whole package under one roof. We control our own destiny when we are the General Contractor on the job. There are no mis-communications, no waiting for others, no excuses, just pure committed work ethic which we have down to a science.
Puts a high priority on quality and safety
Last but certainly not least in importance is the concentration on obtaining a high quality of workmanship and attention to safety for all workers and the general public. A productive project is a safe and high quality project. These are compatible objectives.
Poor quality or work accidents result in people having a negative attitude about their work and / or the company they work for. Given a work environment where workers are happy and that stresses quality and safety, everyone attains pride in their work and a winning spirit. It is this type of spirit and work ethic that the construction supervisor must promote and achieve. The attitude of all team members at Professional Services Contracting is a prime example of this.
Can the Supervisor Make a Difference?
Let's assume the construction supervisor does posses the skills and qualities outlined above. How can he impact the project? Consider a simple example cost estimate for a project. This is an example breakdown of the cost components for a remodeling or renovation project.
A mere 5% increase in typical productivity can have the effect of decreasing the labor cost by 5%. On a $300,000.00 (Three Hundred Thousand Dollar) project this represents a $15,000 savings in labor cost. This cost savings would result in a higher increase in profits and or a lower cost to the client.
Looked at another way, studies have shown that one half of nonproductive time is directly controllable by the supervisor. If you assume that typically 50% of labor costs expended in is nonproductive, it follows that the supervisor, by his own actions, can increase productivity by 25%. This represents a very nice savings on the cost of your labor. In other words, the supervisors decisions and actions can generate a good amount of money in cost savings. This savings would generate additional profits for the company and lower bottom line costs to our clients. Clearly, the supervisor can make a difference. He is the key to a successful project.