15 ACTIONABLE TIPS FOR EFFECTIVE CONSTRUCTION SITE MANAGEMENT
The erection of buildings right from scratch is a fascinating process.
Even more fascinating are the different skilled hands that come together to build an envisioned structure to reality.
Building castles in the sand and cardboard box houses were fun as kids but constructing real-life structures is certainly not a piece of cake.
If you’re a construction manager, I bet you wish your job was as easy as building sandcastles but that wouldn’t be any fun now, would it?
Architects, contractors, civil engineers etc. are passionate people who work tirelessly to literally build our dreams into reality.
As grinding a profession it may seem, nothing beats the exhilaration, the wonderful feeling of achievement that comes when a building project is well done and over.
Managing a construction company can seem like a monstrous task and there’s no “solves it all” formula that can guarantee success. It is one of the things that you may find yourself doing especially when your job has to do with structures.
It may seem like a tricky thing to do, but if you cover the basics in terms of safety, machinery and workers, then you are off to a good start.
Whether you are a builder, a specialist, an architect, an engineer or you work with the planning authorities, chances are high that you might visit the construction site at some stage of a project.
However, there are a few things that, when done right can produce remarkable results. Take a look at these powerful tips that can make all the difference for you as a construction site manager.
1. Get to know your team
The success of your building project largely depends on the members of your team.
After all, they’ll get most things done and getting it done right will be a result of their skills, experience, willingness and if the right task is assigned to them, success is sure.
It seems absurd to assign a plumbing task to a carpenter, doesn’t it? To be an effective construction site manager, you have to find out the professional strengths and weaknesses of individual members of your team.
Knowing this aids effective task allocation, which is an important factor in the success of any building project. Another good idea is to back up the tasks you give to each member of your team with rules.
Rules as regards quality, finishing tasks on schedule, do’s and don’ts on-site and your preference for various things.
These rules should be created with your client’s intentions, expectations and desires at heart. They should also reflect choices and decisions that would ensure the overall success of the building project.
Once some basic rules are put in place, there will be clear boundaries that will prevent mistakes, disagreements and set a suitable work rhythm for your team.
2. Keep the site clean and tidy
One of the first things you should consider doing is making sure that the site itself is clean and tidy.
It may sound like such a simple thing, but when undertaking works on construction for buildings or making relevant repairs, an untidy site can cause more problems or create issues.
It might be worth trying to maintain this as work goes on. Hence, you should encourage workers and tradesmen to follow suit with keeping the environment tidy.
3. Make provisions for the general public
Often construction sites are in areas where the general public still need to access.
This implies that you will need to make provisions for them to ensure that there are minimal upheaval and disruption.
This could be added walkways to keep them safe from traffic if the pedestrian walkway is affected, and also trying to ensure that precautions are taken into account when it comes to noise levels from work taking place on the site.
4. Know the big picture
While constructing a building, it’s easy to get distracted and overwhelmed by the hundreds of details that you have to see to, that you lose sight of what is important.
To avoid this, it is crucial for you to know what you’re doing even before you start.
Visualize the project. Have an image of its completion in your head. This vision should be aligned with your client’s goals, interests and expectations.
Defining your goals as regards the project will help you ensure clarity when you plan and maximize time and resources effectively.
5. Plan to the T
Once you know what your expected outcome should be, the next step is finding out what it entails. What exactly is required of you to make that particular project happen on that site?
Different projects require different things. Having a realistic idea of the time, energy and resources you’ll need to apply to a project will help you find your bearings.
Then plan everything ahead. To be on top of your game, you’ll have to start planning the scheme of things even before construction starts. For effective planning, don’t make your plan a fixed one.
Make room for evolving, more developments and unexpected situations as they occur. Things don’t necessarily have to go exactly the way you’ve planned it when you do start construction.
Another key ability you have to cultivate as a site construction manager is revising your plan if need be. Your goal is the successful completion of a building project but there are certainly different routes to get there.
Planning also involves securing the necessary permissions, dealing with legalities and hiring quality workers, so you won’t have to deal with all these while constructions are underway.
6. Prepare for natural disasters
A thunderstorm, sand or hailstorm can wreck havoc on a construction site. It pays to be adequately prepared for these. Collect historic data of the area construction will take place.
This informs you of recent natural disaster occurrences in the area, the probability of another one happening or if there’s no cause for alarm.
Prepare temporary shelters for yourself, your workers and the machines in the case of a natural disaster. Make other changes and adjustments to the building pattern if need be.
You know the old saying- it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Once construction starts fully, you’ll be swarmed with numerous tasks clamouring for your attention. It’s easy to get caught up and start ignoring important issues.
You have to stay wary of things and consciously choose tasks that are important over tasks that seem urgent. You can stay on top of things by being organized.
Prioritize tasks. Finish the tasks at the top of your list first before moving on to less important ones. As each task is completed, file it.
Keep tabs on costs with your overall budget. Post reminders of important issues for yourself and others.
Compare each stage of the construction with your schedule to know if you’re ahead or behind. All in all, manage time and make every minute of building count.
8. Have a realistic plus smart budget
Here’s where planning well comes in. You don’t want your budget to be too minimal to your peril, and you also don’t want to go overboard.
So what’s the solution? Make your budget cover all your proposed expenses, and then add 10-15% of the total to account for unexpected costs that may arise.
That way you avoid stressing out your client over money and it becomes a win-win situation for the both of you. While planning your budget, it helps to get a good, reliable supplier whose goods meet up with your standards/ requirements and whose prices are reasonable.
Have an agreement that he or she does not add additional costs down the line, then you can plan your budget according to his or her fees.
9. Communication is important
A number of issues (such as mistakes) can occur if the members of your team are misinformed. To avoid this, keep the communication lines open on your site.
You’re not just managing a site, you’re also managing a team of workers and to do this effectively, you have to communicate well. Communication on a site has to be clear, honest, precise and consistent.
Once you pass across information, don’t just assume it’s understood, follow up and ensure tasks are carried out effectively.
Make yourself available to all the members of your team and other stakeholders involved in the project. Don’t just give orders, learn to listen to the members of your team.
If you have a good team, your workers will be people with a great deal of expertise in their field of work. Their input and opinion will help you immensely.
Another way to ensure effective communication is to pass information timely. Everyone should have the necessary information needed to make decisions and carry out tasks concerning the project at the right time.
You need to be the operator of the communication system at the construction site.
10. Be present and responsible
When construction starts and the work is moving on smoothly, there’s usually this temptation to step back and watch from the sidelines. Don’t fall for it!
As enticing as stepping back might seem, the consequences can be dire. Be physically present and involved in the site especially when construction has started. Follow every workers’ progress, give suggestions, listen to them, be open to criticism and take note of problems.
The fact that your team knows that you’re available and within yelling distance will make them more willing to discuss site problems. Don’t forget that praise boosts a team’s morale.
Give commendations when someone earns it. The point here is to be on the site as much as possible, and while you’re there make your presence felt, positively. Realizing that the site is fully your responsibility is also important.
After all, you’re the construction manager. Every incident, mistake and decision your team member makes on the site is your responsibility. Taking this into consideration means that you have to be extra careful with everything that is happening on the site.
It’s basically taking your responsibility as the construction manager seriously.
11. Apply a fix it now approach
Problems are inevitable, especially on a construction site.
To prevent these potential problems from becoming stumbling blocks, apply what I call a fix-it-now approach.
The best time to start fixing a problem is not later, it’s now. As your team works, make sure they point out problems, discuss it and then sort them out with the best options available.
Incorporating a fix it now culture into your team will promote excellent craftsmanship as tradesmen know that every faulty work of theirs won’t be ignored.
Solving problems as they arise helps you manage time, and save money, resources, and stress that comes with managing a major reconstruction of the building.
12. Be an excellent motivator and negotiator
As a good construction site manager, you’ll have to persuade people to do a lot of things you want them to do, the way you want them to do it.
Most times, that’s the only way you can get something. You have to convince your team that your decisions, choices and way of doing things are the best. You’ll have to get them to listen to your opinions and suggestions.
You’ll also have to make sure that they respect you enough to follow your instructions even when you’re not present. You can be a good motivator in your team if you are not just a leader but also a team player who carries everyone along.
Find common ground between you and your workers and start from there. Your persuading skills won’t just be limited to members of your team.
They’ll also come handy when you deal with clients, subcontractors, suppliers etc. You’ll have to negotiate terms, conditions, prices etc. with them and the better you are at it, the easier you’ll find your job.
13. Consider the welfare of the workers and tradesmen
Being on a construction site and performing a manual labour job is intense. As a construction site manager, you have the responsibility for the welfare of these people while they are working on your site.
You may need to take into account added insurances and also different levels of care, and so using a Construction Industry Scheme could be the answer to your problems.
It enables you to maintain a level of care for everyone. You should think about that too.
14. Employ technology
Realistically, being everywhere on the site at the same time is impossible. Keeping tabs on everything happening on the site by yourself is tough.
Simply put, you’ll need help. Technology gifts construction managers with this help in the form of different project management construction software. Some construction management software include; Coconstruct, e-builder, plan grid, aconex, and corecon to mention a few.
The best construction management software are those that have a reactive technology built in it. This ensures that if something does not go as scheduled, the software changes things consequently.
This saves you from modifying the software as the need arises. You’ll have the software tailored to every situation.
Each software is diverse and you can find the one that meets the needs of your organization. Tasks such as filing tasks and documents, effective communication and collaboration through online mediums (e.g. file sharing ) become infinitely easier when you tailor them to a software platform.
Online software act as a sort of storehouse for all relevant project information and thus provides a centralized platform for everyone and everything on the team.
With this kind of software, you’ll be less stressed and have more time and energy to unwind and focus effectively on the project itself.
15. Ensure you don’t overload the construction site
Another thing to think about would be the construction site in general. It is very crucial to avoid overloading it.
Too many workers in one area and too many machines at one time can cause problems.
Many activities and people may interfere with other areas unintentionally. Mistakes can be made if you are not careful.
It would be ideal to have a schedule in place so that the right amount of allocated time is given to a particular job.
This will also allow ample space and tools to be available for you to achieve the standard you desire.
Managing a construction site can be challenging, no doubt.
Sometimes, your job can feel like a constant race against serious obstacles that can derail the success of your building project.
Following these tips, however, will help you to avoid potential pitfalls and ultimately become more successful in managing building projects.
These tips are not all you need to know and let me stress that the only way you’ll actually learn, gain more experience and become better is if you actively manage and evaluate each building project.
Face each project with the mindset to learn and it’ll become a valuable learning tool. Take note of your successes and what you did well in such projects. Reflect most especially on projects that didn’t go well and what went wrong with them.
Painstakingly evaluating each project can serve as a catalyst for success in future projects. Adding some commitment and dedication to excellence can make you unbeatable! I hope these tips help you ace your next building project.
So, these are the things you need to think about when it comes to managing a construction site. I hope these tips help you with your next site engagement. 😉
What tip(s) have you been using as a construction site manager?