Construction work plans or programmes are the result of a series of documents aiming to manage and coordinate the activities previous and during the execution of the construction. Although the activities exhibited in the plan vary widely with the type of structure, in general, construction work programmes propose a specific order to carry out with a project.
Construction planning requires to maintain a close relationship with designers, managers, and stakeholders. Depending on the type of contract, programmes prioritize different variables like resources available, time or budget.
Components of a Construction plan
There are element every construction plan must include in order to develop the project efficiently and ensure results. Despite if the components of the programme change with the structure, project managers should include in the document at least the information below:
The scope must be written by a professional knowledgeable in the construction process. The project planner should understand the resources required to perform each activity, costs of equipment, workforce and efficiency rates per type of activity or unit.
In the scope, the purpose of the project is described thoroughly. The project scope is the same justification of the activities – what the final use of the structure is, which considerations have been taken, the total time to finish the construction and the deliverables are some of the important points discussed.
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Every project requires performing some activities before the construction takes place. Pre-construction studies and activities aim to guarantee the conditions are optimal for the structure to be built in a specific place. They include conducting feasibility analysis, conditioning the terrain (for instance, carrying out with earthworks), building warehouse to storage material and work camps among other major activities.
Courses, certifications and any educational exercises undertaken for workers before the construction, with the goal of assuring high-quality results should be also considered pre-construction activities.
Risk Assessment and Safety
Each activity comes with a risk associated. Good construction practice should plan ahead of time for possible dangerous situations in everyday task development. Furthermore, project managers also need to consider a percentage of the budget to safety and buy the necessary equipment to ensure all workers are protected against safety hazards.
The most common types of accidents in constructions are falls, the collapse of material, electrical accidents, trips, lifting objects, noise, and vibration. Construction programmes should consider a plan where at least these issues are addressed.
Today, environmental assessment is turning into a deal breaker or the clincher in many contracts. Stakeholders are unequivocal towards the importance of causing the least amount of alterations to the environment and protect possible endangered species.
Here, there should be a detailed plan on why and how the construction is making a positive or negative impact on the environment, and what actions will be taken to mitigate the actions. The length and scope of an environmental assessment depend on the magnitude of the construction and where is taking place.
For example, regardless the flow of cars, the environmental plan of building a highway in the city will never have the same reach of assessment needed to build a highway close to a forest to connect to cities.
A quality construction plan is a document with the details of the standards followed for the design, pre-activities and construction processes. It can also include the plan to follow up with processes and progress of the workers on a daily or weekly basis – this means, the communication plan is often included in the quality assurance.
All the material test documentation and results, alongside with formats for deliverables are found in the Quality Assurance plan. Suppliers and subcontractors should be described and given a clear role to guarantee the best practices are being followed.
Work Tasks, Duration, and Budget
Although a construction programme includes all the elements mentioned above, the rate of success of winning bids is often associated with the budget and duration of the work mostly. Therefore, it is quite common for project managers to focus on creating efficient construction plans and using resources smartly while performing tasks in the least amount of time possible.
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In order to plan tasks sequences, durations and come up with a fine budget, construction planners should think about which the most critical variable is and what the final goal is. If they need to work against the clock, then they maybe opt for hiring more people to finish tasks faster. In other cases, contracts are giving to companies managing to do all the works with a specific task.
The easiest way to find out tasks of the programme is breaking down the whole project into phases: site preparation, earthworks, foundations, framing, walls, roofs, and painting could be some of the phases of a house building.
The phases usually have a specific order, but there are activities among phases that can be performed at the same time. For example, for a two-story house, workers could be painting the first floor while still installing floors in the second.
Defining all tasks in the project is the first step to find out which resources, technology, and equipment will be needed to complete a phase.
After the activities are set, the next step is establishing a relationship among them – this to figure out the critical path and which is the best sequence to carry on with the project. Tasks with precedence are particularly important, as they stop the following activities.
In a simple diagram method, there are four ways tasks are connected to each other:
- Finish-to-Start (FS): If the activity can’t start without finishing the predecessor activity, it is called an FS relationship.
- Start-to-Start (SS): If for any reason, two or more activities must start together, it is said they have a SS relationship.
- Finish-to-Finish (FF): If two or more activities finish together, they have a FF relationship.
- Start-to-Finish (SF): If an activity can’t be finished until another activity starts, that means they have an SF relationship.
Once all the activities have an obvious sequence, managers can schedule materials with contractors and buy implements for workers. The quality and quantity of the materials are commonly specified by the designer, but reviewed by the construction company. The quantity given by the designers are called theoric, and they usually don’t consider waste.
Duration of Activities
There are magazines in which managers can find average durations for each activity or even an entire construction phase. Yet, these durations are predetermined under certain conditions that may be too unrealistic in some scenarios. Case in point the excavations of a pipeline, they can take way longer if the construction is being held in the middle of the rainy season and the slope keeps falling – they are indeed more laborious, expensive and dangerous to do during the rainy season.
For that reason, the project expert needs to have experience in the construction or access to the direct knowledge acquired by stakeholders.
The duration of the activities is easy to determine as long as all the phases and tasks are linear. But, once there are parallel tasks or wait times, the schedule completely changes.
An activity called “Concrete for slabs”, after pouring the concrete, it requires first to let the concrete curate for at least 3 days or a week in normal conditions before applying any loads. If the concrete has an additive for strength or hydration, may cut time to half before applying loads.
Then, for each slap, managers should put an extra week or more in the schedule before finalizing the whole “Concrete for slabs” phase.
Productivity also plays a part in the work schedule. Regardless if there are average times to finish a task, project managers should add an extra percentage (determined in most cases by experience) to the total time or decrease the productivity of a crew.
Creating a budget
There are indirect and direct costs. The direct costs are labour, material and equipment – then, is everything related to the construction itself. Indirect costs are the cost incurred for hiring office staff, rent for faclities, contractors, office supplements such as laptops, printers etc.
The costs for completing tasks are all direct costs, regardless if they are salaries and benefits for contractors and workers.
Each task, and phase needs a crew or worker to be finished, it also needs implements, materials and sometimes machinery. The total cost per phase is the sum of the cost of all tasks, including everything that is needed to perform them, and the cost of the whole project will be the sum of each phase.
Construction managers can take the cost and time if each phase and compare them to evaluate which the most expensive ones are, in order to be careful with extra costs. Furthermore, if the critical activities (tasks with predecesors) are particularly expensive, managers should focus on figuring out strategies to avoid mishaps in those tasks.
It is worth mentioning, the pre-construction activities, environmental assessments, risk and safety evaluations are part of the direct cost of the construction. They can be detailed as unit or could be break down into small tasks depending on the client preferences.