10 Lessons Learnt from Challenging Construction Projects

10 Lessons Learnt from Challenging Construction Projects

Managing construction projects is no easy task.  There are always challenges with every new project and lessons learnt that can be applied to other projects.

In this blog, we look at the industries top 10 key lessons learnt from challenging construction projects and the strategies that we employ to avoid these mistakes.

Lesson 1 – Do your research first

Always make sure you do adequate research before undertaking any renovation works.  Without proper research, unforeseen costs can quickly mount up, delays can creep in, and the end result is often disappointing.

Rushing the research and planning stage almost always ends up costing more time and money.  Conducting proper research and site surveys not only provides more control over the project, but also helps mitigate any risk of unforeseen costs or delays.

Lesson 2 – Always have a contingency plan!

If experience has taught us anything is that having a contingency plan is essential.  There are so many ways a project can go off track but as long you have a backup plan that can easily be executed, your project should stay on schedule and within budget.

Beyond this, you will need to make sure you have a detailed programme of works and the progress of the project should be continually monitored throughout its lifecycle.  Teams should be held accountable for tasks and any potential issues need to be communicated early on. 
Click here to read more about contingency planning.

Lesson 3 – Things will go wrong

You will encounter problems throughout any construction project. From deliveries not turning up on time, to poor weather conditions, to unforeseen costs or a global pandemic! Even small problems can snowball into bigger issues if they are not properly managed.

Unfortunately, it is inevitable that as works progress, issues can arise although the severity of these problems will vary.  Assuming that you have done proper research before works begun and you have a solid contingency plan, your project should run seamlessly even if you do encounter the occasional problem.

It is less about avoiding problems but more about how you manage them.  The works we undertook during the pandemic is perfect example of this.  Having had to shut down our sites during lockdown, we then had the challenge of resuming works in a safe manner that allowed for social distancing.  A couple of these case studies can be found on our projects page.

Lesson 4 – Build a strong team

The greatest resource a construction company has is its employees, subcontractors and suppliers.  At the end of the day, you cannot deliver a project without a strong team behind you; but this requires more than just appointing individuals based on skill.  They also need to reflect your company values.

It is also about ensuring the team feel valued and motivated.  We pride ourselves in fostering a culture of honesty and trust not just with our clients and employees, but also with our supply chain.  It is this strong working relationship that ensures our projects are delivered to a high standard, on time and within budget.

We truly believe, if you treat your team well it will show in their work!

Lesson 5 – Supply-chain management is important!

Managing lead times is vital to ensuring a project remains on schedule.  It’s a common struggle with many developments and needs careful planning to ensure that materials and equipment are delivered on time.

Supply-chain management is important now more than ever.  Since COVID-19 and the UK’s exit from the EU, securing materials has become particularly challenging.  This is why we make sure we place orders well in advance and carefully coordinate deliveries so that sites have adequate hoarding.

Lesson 6 – Keep scope creep in check

Scope creep or a change to the scope of works can not only impact deadlines but can also increase costs.  This is a common reason why most construction projects go over budget or fail to meet agreed completion dates.

A common issue with a lot of construction companies, is they fail to communicate to the client the true impact of change requests.  Even small adjustments to a programme of works can have a knock on effect to the rest of the project.

This is why before we start works, we make sure we have fully understood the project scope as well as the clients vision and expectations.  If a change of scope is required, we work with the client to ensure the project remains on track and meets expectations, providing complete transparency throughout the project lifecycle.

Lesson 7 – Communication is important not just when it comes to managing projects

A breakdown in communication between teams is often the catalyst for a deterioration in quality.  It’s important to hold regular weekly meetings not only with the client but also with subcontractors and design teams to ensure everyone involved, knows what the key project outcomes are and what tasks they need to complete.

Our Project Managers play a pivotal role in managing the communication between teams and coordinating works to ensure it meets client expectations.

Lesson 8 – Continue to innovate and be prepared to adapt to change quickly

Technology is transforming the construction industry.  There are new ways of working and tools available that help improve efficiency.  Slow adopters only become less competitive in the market which is why we invest in innovation at Harris Evolution.

We continually review our processes and systems for opportunities to enhance our service offering.  This is one of the reasons we have decided to invest into new project management tools that have not only proven to increase operational efficiency but also visibility of project deliverables.

New materials and technologies are continually entering the market and with that are opportunities to add value to the projects we deliver.

Lesson 9 – Make sure you stay true to your values

Sometimes the right way isn’t always the easiest, but it’s more important to us that the job is done right first time, every time.  Harris Evolution is built on three core values - ‘do the right thing’, ‘always do your best’ and ‘show you care’ which is embedded in our culture.  These core values are reflected in the work that we produce, the relationships we maintain with our suppliers, clients and colleagues, and our endless thirst for improvement.

From the beginning we have set out to change the landscape of the construction sector and bring back a sense of good old-fashioned trust, decency, and reliability.  This can only really be honoured by staying true to our values – taking the time to get to know what our clients pain points are; what their visions and expectations are; being honest and reliable throughout; and never compromising on quality.  

Lesson 10 – Auditing and good record keeping is vital

Something that isn’t often talked about in the construction industry, is the importance of good record keeping.  Not only is it essential for compliance purposes, but also for internal auditing. If a mistake is made on a project, it can be difficult to trace back who is responsible if you do not have a proper paper trail.

We record all of the key information about our projects in a central database.  Documents such as signing in sheets, project progress reports and email trails are recorded within the system so that they can be called upon should we need them quickly.  This provides a level of accountability of tasks and control over the project outcomes.

Let’s chat

Commercial fit outs will always have bumps along the way, but a good contractor will always have your back. As long as you get this bit right, the rest will fall into place!

Speak to us today on 0117 967 5923 or email enquiries@harrisevolution.com and discover how we can help you achieve a renovation to be envied by your rivals. Alternatively, click here and check out our previous projects.