How to Develop a Residential Construction Schedule: A Guide for Home Builders

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It doesn’t take much imagination to understand why home builders would need a reliable construction schedule. A good schedule enables you to organize all the moving parts of a project into a cohesive timeline that works effectively when doing a build. What does take some imagination is figuring out how to come up with a residential construction schedule that works for you and your team.

Whether you’re building something simple or taking on a complex project, home construction jobs have many variables. Varying on square footage, weather conditions and the readiness of workers and supplies, the construction of a home can take somewhere from three months to over a year. 

So, how do you schedule it all? Consider the following best practices.

Get Organized

Success for the home builder begins with understanding the scope of the project build. This can turn into a daunting, complex, time-consuming process, which is why builders must develop the organizational skills and best practices to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. 

Remember, staying organized during your build doesn’t just help keep your desk tidy, it’ll save you a lot of frustration.

So before getting into the nitty-gritty of your residential construction schedule, ensure that you set up the necessary systems that make it easy for you and all stakeholders to find the right information. Doing this can involve actions like:

  • Agreeing on the communication channels you’ll use to relay information. Try to do everything on a single platform to keep everyone on the same page.
  • Determining where files, documents and other data should be stored. Again, using a single platform works best, as it helps you avoid data silos.
  • Agreeing on the tools and platforms that you’ll be using throughout the project. Having some stakeholders use software ABC while the rest of the team decide to go with software XYZ is a recipe for disaster.

List Out All Tasks and the Time Durations Required to Complete Them

The next step is to come up with a master list of tasks. Take note of all the to-dos involved in the project, along with beginning dates, completion dates and estimated time duration of each item. 

Having all tasks mapped out by time duration provides a logical sequence to the process and helps keep the project moving on the right track. 

Use the information you’ve gathered to map out your timeline and key dates. For best results, use a project timeline sheet to create a visual representation of your residential construction schedule.

A project timeline naturally takes the structure of a horizontal bar chart, where each task is given a name and a subsequent start and end date. A project timeline delivers an in-depth summary of the entire project from start to finish. You can visually see when a task starts and when it’s completed as well as whether it is dependent on the completion of a previous task.

Using a timeline template or Gantt Chart that tracks the progress of your project allows you to pinpoint risks early and can help to ensure that the project is achieved within the time stipulated in the schedule. 

There are a variety of spreadsheets on the market loaded up with various functions which can make for a capable timeline. For example, a project timeline Excel template can save you the time and effort it takes to generate your own spreadsheet. However, such macro-heavy Excel sheets can be problematic to maintain or impractical for larger projects.

When it comes to running larger projects more effectively and efficiently, project managers favor project timeline software. A user-friendly tool will easily generate Gantt charts and have features that allow you to assign tasks, track progress and generate performance reports. Project timeline software is much more adaptable than spreadsheets because it allows project managers to easily revise the timeline and keep track of tasks with all parties involved via online dashboards and reports.

Keep Other Stakeholders in the Loop

Updating all relevant parties about what’s going on with the project schedule is vital to keeping things running smoothly. You can accomplish this by being proactive in your communications and by listening to their needs. 

Rather than waiting for stakeholders to ask what’s going on, send out regular status updates or schedule catch-ups throughout the project to check-in with each other and address issues that come up.

Maintain Flexibility When Executing Your Residential Construction Schedule

Keeping your construction projects on schedule to meet all your timeline goals is no easy task. Unanticipated things such as adverse weather, costly rework and subcontractor default can veer projects off their course.

An experienced project manager understands that unexpected issues arise, and they’ll come up with contingency plans. This type of flexibility in the schedule will go a long way in reducing stress and ensuring that problems are resolved. 

Flexible schedule contingency plans include things like being ready to assign overtime when you’re running behind. Weather delays could require you to bring in additional labor and equipment to get your project back on track.  

You can execute your residential construction schedule best by carefully analyzing daily progress reports, keeping an eye on the budget and schedule and taking immediate action if problems come up. 

Gather Key Learnings

Keep track of every project’s progress with detailed daily reports and take note of any key learnings from each project. Over time, you can develop a good eye for how closely you are hitting your schedules.

By gathering and understanding your data, you learn how to recognize potential red flags that might indicate schedule belt-tightening and timely communications. It’s always good practice to measure how well your actual timeline for accomplishing tasks matches up with your master schedule.

Gathering this valuable work history also allows you to pay particular attention to areas that ran over or were finished earlier than scheduled. Try and ascertain the causes of these divergences with your master schedule. This helps you develop your planning and scheduling for upcoming projects and compare current projects to past accomplishments on similar jobs.

It is rare for a project to adhere exactly to your master schedule. But learning from the past and putting into place best practices will always help to keep your home-building business constantly improving.

Final Words

Creating a residential construction schedule isn’t always easy but with proper organization and communication practices, the task becomes completely manageable. 

Hopefully, the above-mentioned recommendations help you create a schedule that can keep your project on track. 

And if you’re looking for a tool to make this task easier, BuilderGM offers features to help you manage the entire construction process from one place. From creating estimates to communicating with stakeholders, our platform makes tedious tasks easier, so you can focus on building better homes.