Let’s bust some construction myths and separate fact from fantasy.
Construction Myth 1: Construction is easy.
Fact: Don’t get into construction if you are looking for a 9 to 5 job. Contractors work long hours in the heat, cold and rain. Construction isn’t easy, things will go wrong and do go wrong. I’ve worked long into the night when cranes and equipment have broken down. I’ve worked weekends to get projects completed. I’ve worked for tough unpleasant clients. Construction definitely isn’t easy!
Construction Myth 2: It’s easy to start a construction company. Or, I’ve been in construction for many years so it will be easy to start my own construction company.
Fact: Many construction companies fail. It’s not because their owners were lazy or didn’t have construction experience, rather their owners didn’t understand what was required to manage a company. To manage a construction company you have to find the right projects with the right clients (ones that will pay you on time) at the right price. It’s about managing people and cash flow. It’s about understanding registrations, paperwork, and red tape. It’s about invoicing for completed work. Few are successful at starting their own construction company.
Construction Myth 3: With the latest technology I can manage my project from the office.
Fact: Nothing beats walking the construction project and talking to your team. You can see what’s happening, look at the quality, get a sense of the team’s morale, look at the productivity, check the safety and understand the problems at the coalface. As important, is the team can see you – invariably they’ll respect you more.
Construction Myth 4: The latest technology will make our construction projects more successful.
Fact: The right technology can definitely help us achieve success, but, no technology can turn a poor project manager into a good project manager. Not even the best technology in the world can turn a poor contractor into a good contractor.
Construction Myth 5: This project is the same as our previous project. All construction projects are the same.
Fact: No project is exactly the same. There are different clients, subcontractors, suppliers, construction team members, and designers. Each project has its own unique project conditions. Contract documents vary. The weather is different. Every project presents its own unique challenges and problems.
Construction Myth 6: Construction schedules are only there so clients can punish contractors, and construction schedules are a waste of time.
Fact: Good construction schedules protect clients as well as contractors. They help the contractor manage their project, showing the path to get from the start to the finish – kind of like GPS showing us the route to follow to reach our destination in the shortest time, with the least tolls. A construction schedule informs the client when they must provide information and access to the contractor. The approved construction schedule is used to adjudicate all delay and acceleration claims.
Construction Myth 7: We won’t submit variation claims because we don’t want to upset our client, they’ll look after us and it will all work out at the end.
Fact: When there’s trouble on a project it’s everyone for themselves. Even good clients will quickly forget how nice a contractor has been in the course of the project when things go wrong. Clients don’t want nasty surprises at the end of the project. If there’s a legitimate variation claim submit it in accordance with the contract. The contract document is the rule book. Nobody can object to you playing by the rules.
Construction Myth 8: Contractors make lots of money.
Fact: For every rich contractor there are probably dozens that are struggling to make money, and many become bankrupt every year, often with devastating consequences where they lose everything including the family home. Yes, sometimes contractors will strike a profitable project, but they’ll also have several ordinary projects and even somewhere they lose money.
Construction Myth 9: They must be lucky because their projects are always successful.
Fact: A professional golfer said that the more he practised the luckier he got. With construction it’s similar. The more we plan the luckier we get. Planning a project before starting, and then planning our projects every day and every week ensures we can avoid many of the problems and crises that beset other projects. Yes, sometimes the weather is kind to us, and other times it can mess our project up. Sometimes we have good clients and some are bad. But, proper planning helps us lessen, even avoid, the worst of these problems. Understanding our clients we can avoid working with the worst. By planning our projects properly we can often avoid the worst of the weather.
Construction Myth 10: Construction isn’t a ‘people’ business. I’m not good with talking to people so it will be ok if I go into construction.
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The opinions expressed in the attached articles are those of the writer. It should be noted that projects are varied and different laws and restrictions apply which depend on the location of the contractor and the project. It's important that the reader uses the supplied information taking cognisance of their particular circumstances. The writer assumes no responsibility or liability for any loss of any kind arising from the reader using the information or advice contained herein.
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