We’ve all been there. You’re hard at work on a project, making great progress, and then you find out that a load-bearing wall that took three days to complete has to be totally redone.
It’s enough to make you throw your hands up in despair when you consider how much you’ll need to spend on materials and labor, just to do the job all over again.
An eye-opening 30 percent of work performed by construction companies is actually rework. With most contractors seeing profit margins in the low single digits, rework can totally wipe out profits from a job.
The reality is that rework is an inevitable part of construction. But that doesn’t mean it has to dominate your life. There are some real, practical ways you can cut back on rework with the help of software.
If you implement these three measures, with the help of construction software, you can cut rework costs and boost profits by 10 percent within the next year.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Use Building Information Modeling (BIM) to Map Out Each Job
Sometimes the best way to avoid rework is to map out every facet of a project beforehand, and that’s tough to do with traditional design methods. That’s where building information modeling (BIM) software can help.
BIM has been around for a few years, but has not yet been widely adopted by the construction industry. An estimated 33 percent of companies in the construction industry still aren’t using BIM.
Many construction companies are stuck in their old ways of doing things, and are intimidated by new technology and potential implementation costs.
But the time and monetary investment is worth it if you’re struggling with rework costs. BIM allows you to create a virtual model of a building, and helps you to coordinate with your workers and subcontractors to identify conflicts or work intersections.
BIM provides a more detailed and, most importantly, centralized model, meaning everyone is on the same page, mistakes are less likely and potential problem areas are identified early.
BIM data files showing separate stages in a construction project. (Source)
Project teams that use BIM see big results. A recent AutoDesk Connecting Teams study found that 61 percent of teams that used BIM processes reported fewer project errors, 55 percent said it reduced the time required for communication and 52 percent said they were more likely to have a satisfied client.
2. Leverage Your Data to Identify Common Issues and Risk Factors
Mistakes that lead to rework often happen because of things you weren’t able to predict. But you likely have access to data that can help you spot those risks before you hammer the first nail.
Rather than letting your previous job data sit around unused, you need to collect it all, study it for patterns and turn it into actionable reports. That way, you can identify and solve problems before they become expensive rework projects.
Some data points to start collecting and analyzing include:
- Progress reports from previous jobs—are there common steps or stages within past projects that have traditionally led to rework?
- Employee and subcontractor performance.
- Common causes of reduced efficiency and safety risks.
To start out, you can save all this data in a spreadsheet for later review. But to really effectively analyze your data and gain insights you can act upon, you’ll need machine learning and artificial intelligence software to crunch the numbers for you.
With the right software and data analysis practices, you can look at information from past jobs to determine which of your subcontractors are operating the most safely and efficiently, or what factors are continually causing the need for rework.
3. Improve Your Planning Process to Avoid Potential Mistakes
Many causes of rework arise because organizing and planning processes aren’t thorough enough. There are a number of common mistakes that often result in rework:
Not Involving Subcontractors Early
Your subcontractors have many years of experience doing what they do, and you need to leverage that to help you plan your project. Don’t just bring them in when the work needs to be done—involve them in the conversation at the very start.
Construction managers often start work on a project before they bring in a subcontractor, only to find out that the design just can’t be constructed. That results in rework, and it’s totally preventable by early involvement of the subcontractor.
How software can help: Take the subcontractor on a tour of the software you use, show them the plans you’ve made using that software, and figure out together when they best fit into the process.
Documentation is essential to making sure the work gets done right. You need permits in place, designs readily available and any other information necessary to do a job. If you aren’t well organized and that document isn’t easy to find or just missing, a major rework could be on the way.
How software can help: Your construction software should manage your documents in a way that makes them easy to access, both in the office and on the job site. Look for software that also supports mobile devices so important documentation can be pulled up on a smartphone or a tablet.
Problems With Materials and Supplies
If you aren’t spending adequate time preparing and planning before the project gets underway, you may not get the supplies you need on time, or have the wrong materials entirely.
How software can help: Look for construction software that has features that help you keep materials and supplies organized. Some provide features that help you track shipment and delivery of materials.
Teams need to collaborate with each other no matter where they are on the job site. If your communication system isn’t up to snuff, work gets done incorrectly or in the wrong order, forcing everyone to go back and fix everything.
How software can help: Look for software that not only supports mobile devices such as your workers’ smartphones, but also has an instant message or chat feature so your team can be on the same page.
Missed Milestones and Deadlines
If you didn’t do a good job planning, you’ll feel pressured to rush to get the project done on time, and that inevitably leads to costly mistakes and rework. If you find this is frequently the case, you need to start planning and tracking project milestones so you can get a realistic view of how long a project will take, and how it’s progressing.
How software can help: Construction management software will help you manage the entire life cycle of a job, from budgeting and scheduling to tracking progress and whether you’re hitting major project milestones.
Take Steps Now to Reduce the Risk of Expensive Rework
Rework is frustrating, but the good news is that you can take real, practical steps to deal with this issue right away. A few common-sense changes before you embark on your next project will have tremendous benefits to your bottom line (and your sanity).
- Decide right now how you’re going to collect your data: should you collect it yourself and put it in a spreadsheet, get an employee do it or hire some outside help?
- Examine top-rated options in our BIM software directory to find a solution you would like to try out.
- Set aside extra time on your next project to create a BIM model in addition to your typical design methods so you can see which gives you better results over the course of the project.
- Start collecting data when your project begins, and set aside a day after the project finishes to examine the data and come up with new ideas for your next project.