image of a construction project delayed due to supply chain issues

Construction project delays and how to avoid them

31st May 2023   |   Jamie Barrett   |   Reading Time: 3 minutes

Construction is a complex industry constantly affected by ever-changing micro and macroeconomic variables. As a result, project delays in construction are common but they are always costly in some way.

At best, a project delay can cause a loss of revenue. At worst, it can have a negative domino effect and become detrimental to the project’s completion.

Some construction project delays are caused by contractors, some by the client, and others are unforeseeable and out of the project team’s control – but many delays can be mitigated or avoided.

Planning requirements

Before construction has even got off the ground, a project can be delayed at the first hurdle in the planning stage.

How to avoid delays in the planning phase:

  • Fully understand and meet the planning requirements.
  • Have a realistic idea of planning timescales.
  • Use a planning consultant for advice and recommendations.
  •  Communicate and collaborate with the planning authority.
  • Be aware of and prepared for any surveys the plans may require and the potential impact of survey outcomes.
  • Create a contingency plan for refused applications.

Supply chain

A construction project is a team effort requiring input from many trades, specialists, and materials. The supply chain is the real cement that holds the project together, and a delay in the chain can have a knock-on effect on the whole project.

Effectively planning, managing, and coordinating the supply chain is fundamental to a project remaining on time.

How to avoid delays in the supply chain:

  • Appoint an experienced project manager.
  • Be organised and realistic in the scheduling of subcontractors and ordering of materials.  
  • Have clear communication with subcontractors regarding expectations, timelines, and progress.
  • Maintain non-adversarial relationships with suppliers.
  • Use a reliable, compliant, and reputable network of suppliers.
  • Make prompt payments for work completed.
  • Ensure effective site management.
  • Monitor overall project progress.
  • Use construction software to coordinate and communicate the supply chain schedule.

Budget and cash flow

Construction projects require calculated financial investments, and an inadequate estimation of the budget or cash flow challenges can cause major construction project delays.

The overall budget and estimate should be carefully calculated, allowing for financial contingency for variable factors affecting the budget. Estimates should be realistic from the outset, ensuring that the budget can comfortably see the project through to completion.

Accurate cash flow forecasting can help to ensure there is adequate liquidity and enough money available at key stages throughout the project to keep it on time and to budget.

A cost plan can be implemented to minimise financial risk, maximise value engineering opportunities, and benchmark against reliable cost data.

Appointing a specialist in cost management can ensure that the project has adequate budget and cash flow to keep the project moving and avoid budget-related delays.

Design changes

A successful construction project begins with a good design in terms of practical feasibility and the client’s expectations.

Changes to the design after construction has begun or during later stages of the project can cause major complications and delays – so it’s much more time and cost-effective to get the design right from the start.

Achieving the right design from the beginning requires coherent and documented communication between the client, design team, and construction team; a clear approvals process; a detailed design including adequate information and details; and the opportunity for modifications during the design phase.

Neutral events

Even with all the best project organisation and contingency plans, there are factors beyond the control or fault of anyone that can cause construction delays – these are known within the construction industry as neutral events.  

Like many other sectors, the construction industry has endured the impact of many such events over recent years, with Brexit, Covid, and the crisis in Ukraine all causing sector challenges and significant delays to projects.

Adverse or severe weather, economic crisis, terrorism, national strikes, and statutory change are also examples of neutral events that can cause delays to a construction project.

A neutral event can’t be avoided, but insurance and contingency plans can be implemented to mitigate the impact should such an event occur.

How Evolution5 can help your construction project

With over 15 years of experience working on construction projects, Evolution5 intrinsically understands the costs and frustrations caused by delays to construction projects and we have the knowledge and understanding to help you to mitigate and avoid them by foreseeing potential project pitfalls and addressing them before they cause problems with the project.

Evolution5 is a professional construction consultancy offering project management, quantity surveying, principal designer, employer’s agent, and contract administration services for projects across London and the South East.

Our highly experienced and award-winning team specialises in project planning and cost management for construction projects which can help your project to run smoothly by focusing on understanding your objectives and tailoring a service that fits your requirements.

If you have a construction project and would like to explore how the team can help you, click the button below or call 023 8040 5073.