One of the responsibilities of our lead carpenters is to prepare a realistic schedule that we share with our customers. We offer it as a guideline only. We never guarantee the schedule, explaining that we do not control many of the factors that influence remodeling. For example, we do not control suppliers' schedules or reliability, manufacturing problems, inspectors, the weather, illness, or the homeowners' ability to change their minds. We cannot promise what we do not control. We are simply honest with our customers about the nature of this industry.
Stephen L. Mabe
Stephen L. Mabe Building
Winston Salem, N.C.
I do prepare a tentative schedule with the bid. However, between the value engineering and contract documents, I adjust the final schedule. The contract sets the final schedule in motion, and I share it with the homeowners. This keeps the owners involved with the process. We call this a team process that is manifested from the first meeting to the punch out. Some homeowners live and die by the schedule; others couldn't care less.
Contemporary Home Remodeling
We always prepare an in-house schedule that we do not share with the homeowner. We give the homeowner an initial idea of the sequence. We keep the homeowner abreast of our progress on a daily basis but do not get tied to a strict schedule. We feel if we give the customer a formal schedule and time frame we would be looking for problems if we could not meet or follow that schedule.
We add extra days to our production schedule, and we color code those days in red on the schedule. That lets our production staff know that if we have not added change order work, then as of that date we are losing money. We give our customers approximate start and completion date ranges, barring circumstances beyond our control, such as financing, weather, and change orders. Then we give customers a more accurate time frame when their start date is nearing. It's always easier to tell a customer that we can start earlier than we originally said than to push them back. When estimating how long a project will take, we give customers a best-case and worst-case scenario, so we have a range once again. That makes things a lot more palatable if the project takes more time.
Allan P. Lutes
Ann Arbor, Mich.
At the pre-construction conference we provide clients with our target start and completion dates. We don't sign contracts with penalty clauses for delays, but we do our best to stick to these dates. We use Microsoft Project, so we know how long each phase should take. Our projected schedule also includes an internal "time contingency" for unexpected delays, so when the inevitable delay happens, it doesn't blow the completion date. This allows us to be accurate in our forecast a high percentage of the time.
We also discuss with clients the factors that affect the completion date, including product selections, weather, inspections, and change orders. We list the number of days a change order may add to the completion date. This discussion changes the homeowners' expectations. When the project ends, the client perceives it was completed in a timely fashion, even if the completion date is later than the original target date.