5 Ways to Manage Mistakes in Construction

5 Ways to Manage Mistakes in Construction

In construction, as in any field, mistakes happen. Contractors purchase the wrong materials, human error comes into play, or things don’t go as planned.

A recent example would be the D.C Silverline Metrorail project in the US; during construction, the wrong type of concrete was used, meaning that the expected lifespan of the metro station walls was considerably less than planned for.

As a result of this error, the contractor had to add costly protective substances to prolong the durability of these panels, an expensive and reputation-damaging mistake, and one to avoid replicating. Although you may not always be able to prevent all mistakes, there are a number of ways in which to manage them:

1. Take ownership

Although it may be natural to want to avoid blame and embarrassment, this can be counterproductive. If the mistake is due to you or your team, be professional and admit to the error as soon as possible. This will allow you to move forward and find a prompt resolution for the problem.

2. Document mistakes

Figuring out what caused the problem is just as crucial as fixing it. Identify the root of the problem and handle it from there. If the mistake was the result of a worker, address the worker’s performance as soon as possible to avoid a similar issue in the future.  

If the problem lies with the materials used, be sure to check that the same faulty materials aren’t used for the rest of the project.  Document the error and detail what the issue was, what materials caused it, which workers made a mistake and how they made it. Make use of photographs to document the issue.

3. Communicate with the entire project team

When a mistake occurs, alert the full construction team. Inform them about how the mistake occurred and how it could affect other sections of the project. Make sure that everyone involved understands the error and can continue with their work with minimal interruptions.

4. Create an appropriate schedule

Not every construction mistake can be addressed immediately, and you may not have the workers available to address the issue as quickly as you would like. Take a look at the construction schedule and decide whether the issue is major enough that the overall construction schedule would need to be amended.

While this is not ideal, rescheduling promptly will give you enough time to reset project goals. Ensure that you coordinate with all the relevant parties to set a new schedule and communicate it immediately with all teams.

5. Perform project risk assessment

The issue doesn’t stop after repairs have been made; after repairs, take some time to evaluate all the steps that were used to manage the misstep.

This project risk assessment will help in ensuring that every necessary step was taken to resolve the issue in the best possible manner and you can create recommendations on how to change your best practices to make them more efficient in case a similar problem were to occur in the future.

Best practices to prevent future mistakes

What’s even better than having a proper course of action when mistakes in construction occur? Not having them develop, to begin with.

After creating policies to deal with any potential problem, you should also develop policies to avoid future mistakes. Here are some of the best strategies you can employ to prevent mistakes from occurring in the first place.

1. Adopt automation

Human errors happen. The more people involved in a project, the higher the chances of these mistakes happening. You can reduce these errors by automating certain tasks, such as data entry and redundant processes, or by adapting prefabrication into the actual construction processes.

2. Due diligence with construction quality

To prevent mistakes in construction, teams need to do their due diligence to focus on the quality of the product. Standardisation and the right digital tools can allow you to achieve greater quality control throughout all stages of construction and set up your project with uniformity and success.

Mistakes happen, don’t let them derail your project

Mistakes in construction can be costly, dangerous and jeopardise the future of your business. Setting up the right protocols for all workers and teams to follow will address present errors while developing policies to address future mistakes can reduce project risks. Then you’ll be able to deal with any issue that comes your way and set your project up to run smoothly.

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