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Reducing Costs by Reducing Rework

Rework happens all too frequently on construction jobsites. And it’s expensive. Depending on which study you read, it can account for anywhere from 5% to 20% of a project’s total cost. That can add up to quite the price tag for just one capital project. And it stands to reason that larger, more complex projects have much higher odds of often avoidable, costly rework. Some of the direct and indirect cost implications of rework include:

  • Extra materials to redo work, with the real potential for paying a higher price on short notice and incurring rush delivery charges
  • Extra labor in the form of overtime and hiring extra workers to perform rework
  • Liquidated damages claims against the contractor for not meeting the project completion deadline
  • Withholding or forfeiture of contract retention payments for late-stage rework that overshoots the completion date

The best way to reduce rework — and its associated costs — is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Though there are many internal and external factors that cause rework, in many cases, it is avoidable with proactive steps that can be taken to reduce it and achieve measurable construction cost reductions.

 

Four Steps you can take to minimize rework and therefore promote cost reduction

  • Invest in cloud-based construction document management software to overcome the lack of real-time access to documentation and open up communication channels. It’s safe to say that a lot of rework could be eliminated if the right people had the right information at the right time. Access is key. Cloud-based software provides that instant access, and far more.

As a virtual filing cabinet reachable from anywhere, it centralizes all documents in one single source of truth (SSOT) — everything from change orders (a common source of rework) to drawings to RFIs to contracts and so on. Take advantage of the software’s ability to organize and structure documents in a logical hierarchy so the “cabinet” doesn’t become a virtual junk drawer of project files. Everyone must be able to find what they need. But they also want to know that what they’re accessing is the latest version. Confusion and rework arise when discrepancies crop up between document versions. With updates and edits reflected in real time, versioning becomes automatic.

As a communication platform, the software connects project team members and stakeholders with each other, bypassing the inefficiencies of email, text or phone. Opening up communication means anyone can seek clarification on a change order, discuss inconsistencies or missing details within documents, or confirm understanding about project details, for example. That makes collaboration easier as everyone is able to access, review and make decisions based on the same documents in that SSOT.

  • Initiate commissioning at the beginning rather than near handoff, so there’s no longer the risk of insufficient time to do any minor and major rework by the project completion date. Turning commissioning into a fix-as-you-go approach cuts down on the list of potential rework activities that can impact multiple trades. Plus, it simply makes more financial sense. Mobile-enabled software takes this proactive commissioning approach a step further by helping you log and photograph issues as they’re discovered on the jobsite, and then assign it to a site crew member for immediate resolution. Each fix is one less issue destined for rework.
  • Establish a rolling punch list right from the start that takes the place of excessively long to-do lists that have traditionally begun closer to the project’s end. You might look at it as a type of continuous quality control process that fixes defects in materials, the structure, equipment installations, and workmanship as they’re discovered instead of at the end of a project. Think of the punch list items on construction projects that went unnoticed or not recorded and later became part of the late-stage whirlwind of rework as the project deadline loomed. As with commissioning, mobile-enabled software helps avoid this, making logging punch list items in real time possible, complete with supporting documentation. It means a faster fix, and yet another item that won’t find itself on the rework list.
  • Put a quality assurance (QA) process in place when construction begins to head off inadequate work caliber that can result from lack of a QA plan. You might consider this a parallel project life cycle process alongside commissioning and rolling punch lists. In fact, the latter two could arguably be a subset of QA. Put simply, QA involves planning how to adhere to design and structural standards while meeting client requirements and construction compliance regulations. That calls for a lot of documentation and defined methodologies. A robust software option with customizable and standard forms ensures the right data is being collected during walkthroughs and accurately reported, enabling timely, informed decision making that keeps each project progressing. Enforcement of the QA process can go a long way in helping prevent some of the avoidable rework.

 

Take advantage of AWP and BIM cost reduction abilities

There are two other preventive measures that not only help control costs, but rein in overshooting the schedule (because time is money): advanced work packaging (AWP) and building information modeling (BIM). Considered industry best practices, these intelligence-based processes can count construction cost reduction and control among their many benefits. Each can deliver this on its own, but are particularly impactful when used together:

  • AWP curbs costs by breaking down the project into smaller work packages consisting of labor, material, equipment and informational resources that are provided when work begins. Organizing and performing work in increments can catch mistakes much more quickly so they don’t become punch list items or more substantial repairs. It’s a smarter, leaner way to plan the actual construction of the project and involves engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) teams from the beginning to achieve consensus on design and materials. One key outcome of this early consensus is a more precise, cost-controlled inventory and resource procurement list that not only keeps costs in check but averts the potential for material reordering costs and delivery due to inadequate planning or rework.
  • BIM links all data for every structural element to its interactive 3D model that allows you to experiment with different design and material options while assessing their respective impact on costs. As with AWP, it hyper focuses the project inventory list, but this is pulled from the takeoff that sources from the linked data. BIM also has the unique ability to detect structural design flaws, clashes and safety hazards — and correct them before they’re built into the physical structure. This plays a big role in reducing the likelihood of major rework that could rack up unnecessary yet preventable expenses.

Tackling rework requires a multifaceted strategy that allows you to plan ahead, rather than react when it’s already too late. InEight construction planning uses an integrative approach to give you more control over every facet of your project — including cost reduction steps and the risks that can lead to rework — so you can achieve better outcomes. Start proactively planning by scheduling a demo today.

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