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How to deliver on budget as a construction project mananger

Project extensions cost money, they prevent the start of a ready income stream and can cause friction between suppliers, labourers and the property developer; here is how to deliver budget and on time

Construction projects tend to go over the proposed budget by a few thousands of dollars. This is money that can be put to use elsewhere. In worse cases, the project can go over budget by millions of dollars. Going over budget has serious ramifications; the project can stall, workers can stop offering their services if they are not being paid, materials can go to waste, time will be lost, stakeholders will not be happy…it is a long list.

What do you do, as a project manager to ensure that your project keeps well within the proposed budget and runs to completion on schedule and successfully?

  1. Be part of all planning stages

You do not have all the skills needed in construction. This means that you can’t know what the engineers are doing or their timelines, you won’t know what the masons want and when, and you definitely do not know what the plumbing or wiring teams are up to. However, you should. 

Being part of all the planning stages and being involved in every decision that each group or each stage requires is how as a project manager, you stay informed and on budget.

  • Don’t settle on the first contractor you interview

Finding the right project contractor is no easy work. It is easy for one to simply meet the first contractor, interview them and settle on them. This is a wrong move, one that is likely to inflate your budget. The best thing to do is to meet and interview as many contractors as reasonably possible before settling on one with the best track record, best fee and more importantly, one you are compatible with.

  • Don’t let the contractor buy the materials

It is easy hand over the cash to the contractor once they have shown you what they need. It is also a costly thing to do. The best practice is to be actively involved in purchasing the materials to be used in the project instead of leaving everything at the hands of a contractor. The commitment on this is not light seeing as you have other duties, but you stand a chance of negotiating directly with your suppliers and sub-contractors.

  • Keep your fingers on the data

Nothing gives a clearer picture of where the project stands than data. A smart project manager reviews the data arising from the project keenly and frequently. This is how you track supplies, this is how you track materials used, this is how you track timelines, and equally important, this is how you track the output of your workers. Focusing on analysing data will reduce wastage and unnecessary time loss. With this data, you can re-forecast and anticipate some eventualities.

  • Give room for owner changes and know how to manage them

Your boss, the owner of the project, or the property developer, has the right to change his mind. When he changes his mind, your budget gets affected. They don’t want the floor tiles agreed on in the initial plan, or they want certain water faucets that they recently just learnt of, or maybe he wants tiles on the roof while originally he was comfortable with iron sheets; it is your duty to manage, and accommodate the changes that the owner may demand. If you let him and the changes run wild, you will overrun budget.

  • Budget for what you don’t see coming

The rains might get too heavy and last a bit longer than you anticipated, there could be trouble acquiring labour, there could be a political or economic situation in the country in a way that affects the pricing of your supplies. A good project manager budgets for external factors that are not in his control but will directly affect his project.

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