When scheduling, I often use a program called Project, but there are other software products out there as well. These programs will allow you to enter tasks with respective start dates, understanding that each task becomes a predecessor for the previous ones. Construction scheduling is something that an inexperienced contractor will have difficultly handling because they lack the experience to understand timing, factors, and other project dependents.
The first step is to build in the start date, including not only the three day right of refusal after signing but also factoring in the time delay in procuring the permit which can be anywhere from one to seven days or even longer. I inform the Client that although the start date has occurred, ordering work and products cannot occur before the permit is handled unless it is a simple remodel project.
The key factors are the restraints that are inherent in construction. These factors are learned through experience and a realistic assessment of the project. I consult with my trades during the bidding process about their allotted time for their portion of the project. I then carefully look at probable weather impacts and most importantly the impact of city or third party inspections (if I'm working in the counties).
Depending on the current job flow and permit climate, vacations, training etc... inspections can add many days to a project and I build this into the various inspection stages of the project schedule. I allot time per trade as if they are standalone aspects but log in the possible overlaps that allow an extra cushion during the duration.
I always label the schedule tentative and use my references and reputation to build trust with the client for delivering the project as close to the due date as possible. I color code and highlight all client/designer/architect involvement and decision making regarding selections in the schedule with a notice for a coming future decision (example: start paint color selection 9/27; paint colors needed 10/3).
Then I feel the most important aspect of the whole scheduling process occurs once the schedule is completed: communication and updating the client is critical as the project moves along to ensure a successful project.
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