Where will crews, subcontractors, and delivery vehicles park? Where will materials be stored, and is the space big enough to hold them all, or should deliveries be sequenced as the project unfolds? How will you arrange materials so that crews can access them in the order they need them? How can you minimize trips to the supply house,­ particularly by your most expensive employees?

Job-phasing, job-staging, planning … however you phrase it, taking the time to resolve critical logistical issues in advance can mean the difference between efficient and profitable jobs and money-losing jobs, says Chris Stanton, of California–based consulting firm KSG Transform. “In tougher times, one starts looking more closely at the details,” he says. “Where are we inefficient, where are we losing money?”

Max Kornell

Until he sold his half of a $25 million San Francisco remodeling company in 1988, Stanton routinely thought through questions like these on major projects, including those in high-rise apartment buildings that posed serious parking and access challenges. Today, in working with construction firms squeezed by exceedingly tight margins, he’s more convinced than ever that front-end, proactive planning can save precious time and money.

“Most jobs are started too soon,” Stanton says. He understands the pressures of cash flow, “but if you spend a half a day or a day or a week planning out the job, I can guarantee you’ll finish it as soon as if you had started it without the planning, and you can do it with great economy.”

Job-staging isn’t rocket science, Stanton says. But it’s critical today. “This is a great opportunity for creative problem-solving.”