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Why do construction projects fall behind schedule?


Worldwide, construction projects are notorious for falling behind schedule. Invariably this costs both the contractor and the customer money plus has the potential for negative reputational damage. Both parties will incur additional costs to finalise the project later than originally planned and the contractor may even have to pay a penalty for finishing late.

When a delay happens, a typical contractor course of action, is to load more resources in the hope of recovering lost time. However this may not even help if the true cause of the delay is not first identified. In fact loading more resources may even increase the delay and associated costs, particularly if they are not the right resources. Generally, the longer the original problem persists, the bigger the delay becomes and leaves less time to recover original construction timelines.

Key to success on today’s construction projects, regardless of size is a well-prepared construction schedule, one which is updated regularly. This discipline supports early detection of project slippages and provides opportunities to mitigate delays through corrective action.

There are multiple reasons as to why a construction project falls behind schedule and we list some of these below.

  1. Poor time estimating: Time estimating is one of the most critical elements of project planning. Inadequate estimates are the single largest cause of project delays. Inadequate estimates can happen for many reasons including inexperience, subjectivity, co-ordination neglect or simply when decisions are made without the right granular detail of what exactly is involved.
  2. Clear understanding of the construction plan within the onsite team: If the team do not fully understand the plan, it is easy to veer off course quickly. Whilst a detailed Gantt chart is necessary, it is how it is communicated to the site team that is the point often missed
  3. Lack of information: Getting the right information at the right time is crucial for success. To address this a properly integrated schedule with design , procurement and construction activities is important.
  4. Inadequate communication: Not communicating clearly and at regular intervals with key stakeholders. At very regular intervals, stakeholders should receive a report detailing project progress and any delays. If there is a delay, the team should get together at the first opportunity, to determine the cause and take corrective action.
  5. Scope Creep: Failure to define the scope clearly and set unreasonable expectations can start a project on the wrong foot and derail it over time.
  6. Lack of finances: Inability to pay contractors on time or to purchase the material needed for a job, when needed can have a major impact on the project schedule.
  7. Limited collaboration: Not involving the key stakeholders early on and not collaborating with them throughout the project lifecycle. In these cases, a scope change can easily derail a project.

Strata Project Solutions, are a professional construction planning service provider. We use our planning skills to successfully deliver a range of construction projects in Ireland, Europe and the Middle East, from tender stage through to construction completion and handover.

To learn more about how Strata can support you in improving your construction scheduling and mitigating delays, using world class planning expertise and knowledge. Please contact us at: or visit our website at


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