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4 Ways Project Managers Can Save Money on Construction Projects

on January 6, 2015

As project manager, it’s your job to make sure a project is completed. Responsible for the planning, coordinating, budgeting and supervision the project from start to finish, you are the point person. You make sure everything goes smoothly – even though it probably won’t. (It’s the sad truth, my friends.)

Despite the hours spent planning and coordinating, we know issues and setbacks will arise, and it’s up to you to oversee and make sure those issues are resolved – all in a timely manner, of course. Not only is it your duty to ensure the job is completed on time, you must also do it within budget!

Luckily, you’re not alone. You have the help of building specialists including architects, engineers, and your team of trade contractors. However, “too many hands in the cookie jar” is often the culprit for things getting out of hand, costs increasing quickly, and work not being completed on time.

We know how competitive the construction world is, and we want to make sure as project manager, you’re able to help save money on construction projects, not spend more than you have budgeted.

While there are various are to make cuts and save money, here are four ways to consider during your next (or current) project:

1. Be present in all stages of planning

As we all know, it’s not all that difficult for projects to take on a life of their own. From the design of the building, finding alternative materials and ways of doing things to keep costs down, to making sure the project is completed on time, managing a construction project surely has its challenges.

And that’s where you come in! As project manager, it’s your job to make sure things go smoothly, and that all begins with the planning. Whether you have an architecture/engineering background or not, I suggest you be present and involved in all stages of the planning. Depending on your expertise and experience, you’ll likely have ideas and ways of getting around the dreaded issues that are bound to arise. Of course, you know all of this, but it never hurts to hear it again.

An alternative option to the typical design and planning process is to adopt the Design-Assist contracting process. Detailed here by The American Institute of Architects (AIA), design-assist is a method of construction management that allows the designer and project manager/owner to work with specialist to design and choose the most cost effective products and materials for a project.

2. Use current technologies

Entering 2015, there is no lack of technology in the world. Look around you, we are inundated with new apps, programs and other developments on a daily (if not more frequent) basis.

For construction managers, using the latest technologies, including BIM (building information modeling), will help you work effectively and efficiently, and save money in the long run. BIM assists in the process of designing, planning, constructing and managing buildings and infrastructure from the ground up.

As you can see from Autodesk’s video, BIM software can help you make the tough decisions, while ensuring your structure is sound. BIM is also effective in keeping all involved up to date with the correct information, which, of course, is crucial for project management.

3. Pay attention to labor productivity

As outlined by Intergraph’s white paper, Factors Affecting Construction Labor Productivity, there are various elements that influence productivity at a worksite. Your workforce is one the main influencers and area where productivity is significantly affected. Surprisingly, compensation was not one of the main factors that affect productivity.

Productivity is often affected when:

  • Your crew is forced to work overtime (and/or holidays), resulting in fatigue and less work being completed
  • There are too many or not enough workers for a particular job
  • Morale is low
  • The workspace is hazardous
  • Weather becomes an issue
  • There is a lack of tools and equipment

While some of these factors are all part of the job, other can be directly affected by what you do as project manager. When your crew is not producing the results you planned for and expect, you risk going over budget and not completing the project on time.

By paying attention to labor productivity, you can catch issues early on and possibly prevent labor productivity from becoming an issue. This, as you know, could potentially save the project a substantial amount of money.

4. Choose time and cost saving products

Along the lines of labor productivity, choosing time and cost saving products can also save a considerable amount of money for your project. When choosing the products for your project, keep in mind associated costs, including labor, installation time, fabrication, etc. All of these elements play a significant role in determining how efficient your crew can work and complete the job.

For example, instead of choosing 10’ EMT, you might consider 20’ conduit. Think about it, you can cover twice the distance in half the time with fewer points of connections, which will save you money on the connections, as well as the labor associated with a particular job.

Below are several cost estimating tools (courtesy of Software Advice and Constructor Magazine) to help you develop bids for your next project:

What are some ways you save money on construction projects? Share your thoughts in the comments below. 

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