One subcontractor can control your project schedule.

It seems that all of my schedules are tight. Some because they must be to meet client deadlines. Some because the contractor diddles around before getting started. Some because permits or financing are delayed. Most of them however are tight because that’s one way to keep costs down.

Direct Overhead costs for small contractors that I use run roughly $3,000 to $5,000 per week. Therefore, cutting two weeks out of a schedule can mean the difference between a low bid and a losing one. Even on cost-plus jobs, I always fix the “Fee” to include these costs which puts the schedule responsibility where it ought to be-on the contractor.

So, if a project is rolling along and one particular subcontractor continues to delay…especially on a short scheduled project-it has to affect the overall schedule. For example: If you are renovating a restaurant and adding steel railings for safety to the patio and those steel railings are continually delayed…there will be schedule problems.

If the railings are not fabricated and pre-installed, they can’t be powder coated and finally installed. Nor can the Hardware supplier supply the proper closers and locks without seeing the gates.(Obviously we did not require shop drawings). Without the railings installed, the owner could not install tables and chairs, or the waitress stand and equipment. In addition final touch up paint could not be completed. All but the last item were required to be inspected by three agencies before a certificate of occupancy would be issued.

In this exact situation, I suggested that the superintendent stop calling the sub and visit his shop. If not for motivation, to at least scope out progress. He didn’t. For some reason, he wouldn’t. When I was contracting, I wouldn’t hire a sub until I had been to his place of business to see his operation. After that, I felt perfectly comfortable “dropping by” during a project to check production progress. I guess contractors now-a-days don’t do that.

We opened late on this project. It was directly attributable to the one subcontractor’s dereliction and the contractor’s inability to control him. And, I must add, my inability to control the contractor.

My common sense says: “Mr. Contractor, be proactive. Go to the sub’s shop and rattle his cage if he is not performing.”

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