In an industry where time is considered gold, ‘rework’ is regarded as a top productivity killer in the construction business. It’s an issue experienced by all project owners, contractors, and workers on and off-site – every professional in construction has been there. The impact of a simple rework can go from delaying a few operation hours to facing legal consequences. The bottom line is this – rework is not something you want to put your company through.
However, managing construction can be much more bearable if reworks are mitigated before work starts. As a matter of fact, a lot of reworks can be avoided if one understands its causes and knows how to prevent them.
What are the Causes of Rework in Construction?
Before solving a problem, it’s important to know how it comes about in the first place. Who is responsible for the punch lists? What materials and methodologies do not fit into the picture? What processes are not working, and how can teams be more efficient?
Here are some of the typical reasons why rework happens in construction.
- Misunderstanding of owner’s requirements: Not grasping what the project owner is looking for or doing things according to your standards can lead to mistakes
- Missing documents and information: Not having the correct details or the right specification when construction teams need it most is crucial at any point in a project lifespan
- Incorrect structural design: A wrong or incomplete design that does not meet engineering standards and specifications
2. Poor Collaboration
- Workers’ disconnect: The barriers for construction teams to coordinate with one another on and off the field, especially when project details are not stored in a central space
- No Single Source of Truth: A construction environment that fails to encourage teamwork and has the potential to create conflicting relationships between different stakeholders
- Ineffective construction crew management: Managers and supervisors who don’t know what they’re doing or can’t inspire others to follow
3. Inefficient Workflow
– No standard processes or systems: A failure to mandate quality control and ensure that the process measures up to the intended result
– Ineffective and poor procurement methods: Failing to get materials and resources in time or ordering the wrong supplies altogether
– Schedule complications: Rushing to meet a deadline, even if it means failing to meet the designs or quality standards
However, the biggest reason for rework in construction is design errors, changes, and omissions. Up to 70% of rework experienced in construction projects and the engineering industry results from design-related rework.
The bottom line? Designers and general contractors see the effects of rework in the earliest stages of a construction project. When data is inconsistent, or there are miscommunications on-site, this further heightens the likelihood of rework. You need more than just learning what causes rework to ensure you avoid it in the future. You must also have the right motivation and the correct approach to mitigate any possibility of rework effectively very early in the project life.
What Does Rework in Construction Rework Cost a Project?
Knowing what happens if you choose not to acknowledge rework is a vital starting point. Even if the consequences of smudge in a painted wall are minuscule–a lost half hour max–the consequences of rework in construction can significantly affect your bottom line or even bankrupt the project if the owner or other project stakeholder is unhappy enough to take on legal actions.
Even if the worst-case scenario doesn’t happen, though, construction rework rework still results in:
1. Delayed Schedule
Productivity issues are one of the biggest hurdles in meeting final project deadlines and milestones. Efficient workflow gives you a higher chance of meeting target deadlines, yet this is more of a dream than a reality for most construction companies.
Unfortunately, rework is one of the major productivity-suckers in the business. In some cases, it can affect productivity negatively by up to 300%, according to an EC & M Web study on rework, which means that a full 30% of all work completed by construction companies will just end up being reworked.
2. Bloated Budget
Staying on budget is just as important, or even a lot more, as staying on the intended budget. According to some studies, between 4-6% of the total cost of a construction project is rework-related, and that’s only considering the direct cost of the reported rework. This estimate doesn’t capture all the little side works and do-overs that waste so many extra worker hours, resources, and other financial assets. Considering the direct and indirect costs combined, the total cost is closer to 9%.
3. Lower Morale
Not only will constant rework affect the budget and the project timeline, but also your team’s overall morale. Construction rework takes a huge toll on motivation, with workers having to tear down or redo work they thought they had already completed and start all over again.
In turn, workers’ disappointment can negatively impact overall productivity. That brings about a new cycle of lost time and money and repeat.
5 Techniques to Diminish Rework in Construction Projects
As we now understand the repercussions of construction rework, as discussed above, most of it results from missteps in a project’s early phases or workflow problems that affect a project throughout its entire lifecycle. Below, we’ve identified intelligent techniques to reduce rework that will help you dissolve the headaches of redoing and reworking forever.
1. Set Quality Standards
Hope for the best approach might sound like a good idea in theory, but it is not close in the construction industry. Instead of waiting for luck, adopt systematic parameters for managing construction tools, equipment, inventory, and, most importantly, workflows. Establish a system of checks and balances to maintain quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC) in your project, as this will also reduce the potential for construction rework in the long run.
2. Enhance Field Communications
Communicating in the field is affected by many roadblocks: a missing plan and structural specification, a head office that only sometimes connects with on-site workers, and more. Instead, if you adopt a cloud-based technology construction crew dispatch software, you can fix much of that. The cloud management software will give your team instant access to your project documents and timeline, allowing seamless and centralized communication for all the members of your construction team.
3. Hire Good Trade Partners
The construction labor shortage has been a threat to the business for generations—and even if you already have a reliable network of subcontractor connections, it’s important to stay prepared. Working with underqualified and overstretched specialty contractors exposed the project to risks your team cannot afford to take, including poor mistakes, quality, rework, schedule delays, budget constraints, etc.
That’s why it’s critical to have a subcontractor prequalification process in the first place – one that focuses on rework prevention and helps you reduce the scale of impact when risks become realized. The easiest and most efficient way to do this is to deploy a prequalification checklist so as not to open up your company to this kind of risk. This will become your templated guide whenever you need to hire an additional contractor for your construction team.
4. Adopt a Construction Crew Dispatch Software
Paper and outdated management tools like Excel spreadsheets and lengthy email threads lead to errors and disconnect between teams. They do not reflect changes as they happen, and workers are forced to walk long distances into the central office to find the information they need to continue working–by which it’s often too late even to make good use of it. Instead, go digital and adopt a construction crew dispatch software, like Pro Crew Schedule, to have all your project information, task delegation, and overall schedule in one central place. This way, there is less downtime, so your team can focus on doing the delegated work.
5. Align Your Project Teams Starting Day 1
When all stakeholders and subcontractors on a project treat their teams as independent from the others, the disconnect is likely to prevail. Instead of letting chaos reign, consider implementing more modern and cohesive approaches. One of them is integrated project delivery (IPD), a collaborative delivery method that treats every project member as part of one big construction team. When all team members are aligned, from day one of a project, motivations shift from “How can I finish my part?” to “How can we all complete the project together.” More trust across the project team is felt, leading to improved project outcomes and better construction crew management.
At the end of every work day, like anything else in life or the construction business, rework is mostly about understanding –and it starts with early action from the first day of construction planning. If you understand the most common causes and take immediate actions to alleviate the potential rework that may arise, you’re far less likely to suffer in the long run at its hands. Remember the above techniques, and prepare to avoid missed deadlines, cost overruns, and disappointed owners and investors.