The importance of having a schedule for a construction project

The importance of having a schedule for a construction project

Construction projects are delicate operations that need to run on time in order to stay within the allocated budget. As soon as a project is delayed, it costs the contractors and building owners more money. Having a strict schedule is important as it keeps the project on time and allows all workers to know when to expect certain deliveries and deadlines.

A schedule is the process of assigning tasks, activities, milestones and deliveries to a construction project – basically setting deadlines that everyone will work towards meeting. The schedule will be used by all construction teams on the project, as well as the suppliers, to finish the building on time. It outlines the pace of work and how the tasks are supposed to be executed, but it also outlines how the team should deal with changes in the plan and delays. 

Why a construction schedule is important

The schedule is a vital planning document that outlines the following points:

  • It assigns dates and deadlines for the project’s activities.
  • Contractors can see whether these deadlines are obtainable or not and whether delays can be avoided.
  • The schedule allows contractors to estimate preliminary costs or tender bid estimates.
  • It can be used to plan the necessary resources (such as equipment, materials and labour) to meet the work tasks and deadlines.
  • The schedule provides a sequence of tasks so the project manager and all teams know what they need to be working on and what tasks they need to be prepared for.
  • It can improve the safety performance of a project by sequencing activities to ensure maximum protection for contractors.
  • It enables teams to set their own goals and work towards achieving these.
  • It outlines how delays can be dealt with in the smoothest and most efficient manner.
  • It eliminates problems of production bottlenecks, where many deadlines fall on the same day.
  • The schedule ensures that the project is completed at the soonest possible date.
  • It gives the building owners a target date by which their building should be ready for use.
  • It can be used post-completion to evaluate the contractors’ performances and to assign responsibility for any delays or overspending.

The building schedule is one of the most important documents for project managers, contractors and building owners. It keeps a project running on time and within budget. However, the schedule needs to be realistic and the estimations need to be achievable in order for it to be a valuable resource for the project.

___

LafargeHolcim is a leading building materials and solutions company that has been operating in international markets for decades. We produce cement and aggregates for construction projects, ranging from small affordable housing developments to large-scale infrastructure projects such as high-rise buildings, dams and bridges. 

___

LafargeHolcim Tanzania has been supplying the country and neighbouring countries with our world-class Tembo cement brand for over 30 years. Our head office and fully-integrated plant are located in Mbeya, Southwest Tanzania.

___

At LafargeHolcim Tanzania, we believe customers come first. We listen to your specific requirements to supply and develop the best solutions for your needs. As the new leader in building materials, you can also rely on our cutting-edge research and development capabilities that have resulted in the finest materials for your construction projects, whether large or small.

___

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest for the best tips on construction, handy projects and the latest industry news. See our Instagram channel for more insights into our products.

How to set out a building plan on the ground

Architects building plan

Before contractors can begin a construction project, they first need to lay the building plans on the ground. This is the process of making the outline of the structure, to the exact dimensions, on the location of where it will be built. The building plan will show contractors where to dig and lay the foundations for the building.

The building plan is often marked by pegs and string, but some contractors like to use white paint on the ground. Pegs are hammered into the ground and attached by a string along the centreline of walls. Contractors need to make sure that the pegs and string follow the architect’s drawings perfectly. 

Steps to laying a building plan on the ground

  1. Clear any long grass and rocks from the construction site where the building will stand. Remove any debris and skim off the topsoil. This will make the marking process easier and clearer.
  2. From the architect’s drawing, start by hammering a peg into the ground at one of the corners of the building (call it point A). Measure the distance of the wall, using the architectural plan as a reference, and place another peg in the ground where the next corner of the wall will be (point B). 
  3. Place a peg two metres away from point A and point B and connect these two pegs with the string. These pegs (call them A1 and B1) will help contractors excavate the foundations later without having to move the string or corner pegs.
  4. Repeat this process of placing pegs at all the corners of the walls (points C and D) and placing additional pegs two metres away. Attach all the outer pegs with string. Each corner point should have two pegs (corner A will have peg A1 joining B1 and A2 joining D2). Where the strings cross will mark the exact corner of the walls.
  5. To make sure that the corners are 90°, the centre points of the rooms needs to be calculated. Measure the distance between opposite corners (point A and point C) on the architect’s drawings. Make sure that the real distance between the pegs at point A and point C match the distance on the drawing. You may have to move the pegs a bit to make these diagonal measurements are exact.
  6. Where the diagonal strings cross is the centre point of the room. The opposing walls (AB and CD or AD and BC) should be the same distance from this centre point.
  7. Once all the strings are laid, the contractors can start excavating the foundations. The extra two metres of string at each corner will allow the contractors to dig the foundations without having to excavate any corner pegs. The strings will be used as a guide for the centreline of the walls.
  8. Some contractors like to spray white spray paint on the ground or use lime to demarcate the path of the wall underneath the strings. This just helps to dig the foundation more accurately.

___

LafargeHolcim is a leading building materials and solutions company that has been operating in international markets for decades. We produce cement and aggregates for construction projects, ranging from small affordable housing developments to large-scale infrastructure projects such as high-rise buildings, dams and bridges. 

___

LafargeHolcim Tanzania has been supplying the country and neighbouring countries with our world-class Tembo cement brand for over 30 years. Our head office and fully-integrated plant are located in Mbeya, Southwest Tanzania.

___

At LafargeHolcim Tanzania, we believe customers come first. We listen to your specific requirements to supply and develop the best solutions for your needs. As the new leader in building materials, you can also rely on our cutting-edge research and development capabilities that have resulted in the finest materials for your construction projects, whether large or small.

___

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest for the best tips on construction, handy projects and the latest industry news. See our Instagram channel for more insights into our products.

Direct and indirect costs of a construction project

Direct and indirect costs of a construction project

All construction projects consist of direct and indirect costs. Together, these form the total cost of construction and they must be factored into the budget. Direct costs are easier to estimate, while indirect costs can vary widely from project to project. Contractors need to keep an eye on the progress and minimise any delays and mistakes as these will add to the indirect expenses of the building.

There are three main costs of a building project; fixed expenses, time-related costs and quantity-proportional costs. Examples of fixed expenses include the once-off purchase of equipment, machinery, supplies and materials. Time-related costs are those that accumulate over a period of time, such as salaries, wages and rent. Quantity-proportional expenses depend on the quantities of materials needed for the project, including cement, aggregate, bricks, steel and glass.

Direct costs of a construction project

These are the expenses that are fixed upon a product, function or facility. In construction projects, the direct expenses include workforce labour, building materials and equipment – so fixed costs and quantity-proportional costs are included in the overall direct expenses of a project.

These costs are developed as estimates before the project starts. Detailed analyses of the construction methods, site conditions, available resources and building contracts are performed in order to accurately estimate the direct expenses. Contractors need to factor in any subcontractor payments and equipment rentals into their direct cost budget.

Indirect costs of a construction project

These are expenses that are not directly fixed – they can vary depending on each project’s requirements and situation. Indirect expenses can include time-related costs due to delays, additional security, administration and extra personnel costs. These expenses do not have a direct connection with the building project and can grow over time. The longer a project takes, the higher the indirect costs can be.

Indirect expenses can also be classified as overheads; whether project overheads or general overheads. Project overheads are those expenses that are related to the actual project but cannot always be directly allocated, such as parking fees, office rentals, workshop facilities and safety costs.

General overheads include supporting expenses such as electricity tariffs, water tariffs, architect fees, directors’ and managers’ salaries and supplier fees. All overheads can be estimated and factored into the budget before a project starts. Most contracting companies make use of checklists and forms to help them develop these estimates. These overheads can account for 5% to 15% of the total project cost.

It is vital that accountants and contractors estimate these direct and indirect expenses as accurately as possible. This will allow the team to set a realistic budget for the construction project and build in some leeway for indirect costs that might creep up. An accurate budget can also help to secure funding from the government or private businesses.

___

LafargeHolcim is a leading building materials and solutions company that has been operating in international markets for decades. We produce cement and aggregates for construction projects, ranging from small affordable housing developments to large-scale infrastructure projects such as high-rise buildings, dams and bridges. 

___

LafargeHolcim Tanzania has been supplying the country and neighbouring countries with our world-class Tembo cement brand for over 30 years. Our head office and fully-integrated plant are located in Mbeya, Southwest Tanzania.

___

At LafargeHolcim Tanzania, we believe customers come first. We listen to your specific requirements to supply and develop the best solutions for your needs. As the new leader in building materials, you can also rely on our cutting-edge research and development capabilities that have resulted in the finest materials for your construction projects, whether large or small.

___

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest for the best tips on construction, handy projects and the latest industry news. See our Instagram channel for more insights into our products.

How to estimate the costs of a construction project

How to estimate the costs of a construction project

Working out all the costs involved in a construction project is very complicated and requires many factors to be considered. This skill of estimating costs takes a lot of time to learn. Studies, the right training, as well as practical experience is required in order to become efficient at estimating costs for construction projects.

There are many aspects of a building project that can influence the costs. The cost estimator should be familiar with all these factors. All aspects should be evaluated in detail before finalising a construction cost estimate. It is important to do the relevant research and to familiarise yourself with all of these factors before making a cost estimation.

Important factors to consider when estimating construction costs

  • The cost of similar projects – It is very helpful to study the cost estimates for similar projects. Study the final cost items and related expenses of other projects, similar to the project you are working on – it will be of tremendous help.
  • The costs of materials – The cost of supplies and materials, as well as their transport, must be calculated before you start the estimation process.
  • Inflation – If you are using previous, similar projects as a starting point for estimating costs, always remember to factor in inflation (the price increases and the decrease of the purchasing value of money over time).
  • The cost of labour – Work out the labour costs for your project in accordance to local labour rates, or as stipulated by your local government.
  • The conditions at the site – This can include things like the environmental sensitivity of the area, poor soil conditions, the presence of groundwater, archaeological sites or contaminated materials, as well as conflicting utilities, like buried pipes, cables, overhead lines, and so on.
  • Timing of the bid – Things like the seasonal time of year, as well as conflicts with other bid openings, can have a big impact on the cost of the project.
  • Plans and specifications – It is very important that all plans and specifications are well prepared, with every detail and aspect of the layout and design executed and fully described.
  • Project schedule – The timeline of the project is a critical factor. If it needs to be completed very quickly, this will generally make the project more expensive – in particular if a liquidated damages condition for failure to complete within a specified deadline is included in the contract.
  • Project engineer – Working with an engineering firm or project engineer that has a good reputation in the industry will ensure a smooth-running project, but might increase the costs. Keep in mind that, if a contractor enjoys working with a certain engineer or firm, the project will be more cost efficient and also likely run smoother.
  • Size of the project – The larger the project, the more bidders will likely be involved and the higher the costs. The size of the project will determine whether local contractors will have the capacity to do the work.
  • Granting agency – If a granting agency is involved in providing funding for a project, this will be taken into consideration when a contractor is preparing his or her bid. This might involve extra administration and paperwork, which can increase the cost of the bid.
  • Location of the work site – The location of the construction site is a big factor in working out a realistic cost estimate. If the location is remote, enough labourers to do the work may be scarce and labour will have to be imported, so driving up costs.
  • Contingency factors – Usually, a 10% contingency amount on the construction total is added to cover unforeseen costs that may arise as the project progresses. When inflation is at a high, or essential construction materials are limited, it may be best to play it safe and increase the contingency amount to 15% or 20%.
  • Regulatory requirements – Certain conditions in regulatory agency approvals can be costly. To reassure potential bidders, it is recommended to include all regulatory approvals in all bidding documents.
  • Value engineering – Certain agencies require that high-cost projects perform a value engineering review, before the design is finalised or before the bidding process proceeds. The estimator must be aware of this factor early on in the process.
  • Insurance requirements – A contractor’s general liability, performance bonds and payments are general insurance requirements, as well as normal costs of doing business. However, certain projects require additional coverage. Such insurance premiums (for supplemental policies) add to the cost of the project and must be factored in right from the beginning.

Cost estimation research is essential

Sound technical judgment is of utmost importance during the cost estimation process – this will come with experience, as well as from the mentoring of other experienced industry role players. It is imperative that research is undertaken to take all relevant factors into account when drawing up a cost estimate for a construction project. A detailed and thorough cost estimate will result in a smooth-running operation with the best possible outcome for all parties. 

___

LafargeHolcim is a leading building materials and solutions company that has been operating in international markets for decades. We produce cement and aggregates for construction projects, ranging from small affordable housing developments to large-scale infrastructure projects such as high-rise buildings, dams and bridges. 

___

LafargeHolcim Tanzania has been supplying the country and neighbouring countries with our world-class Tembo cement brand for over 30 years. Our head office and fully-integrated plant are located in Mbeya, Southwest Tanzania.

___

At LafargeHolcim Tanzania, we believe customers come first. We listen to your specific requirements to supply and develop the best solutions for your needs. As the new leader in building materials, you can also rely on our cutting-edge research and development capabilities that have resulted in the finest materials for your construction projects, whether large or small.

___

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest for the best tips on construction, handy projects and the latest industry news. See our Instagram channel for more insights into our products.

How to prepare for a concrete pour

How to prepare for a concrete pour

There is a fair amount of planning and organisation that needs to be done before concrete is poured at a construction site. This planning will ensure that the pour runs smoothly and that there are no problems.

Planning is essential in the construction industry. It helps contractors to avoid unnecessary costs, wasting time and delaying deadlines. When it comes to pouring concrete, the process needs to be done quickly, smoothly and without injury to any contractors. Once mixed and poured, concrete begins to set, so any delays or problems will result in a costly repair job.

Contractors and workers need to be organised, the pour site needs to be ready and risk control management steps need to be taken to ensure a successful concrete pour. Whether you mix the concrete yourself or have it delivered, here are some steps that need to be taken before concrete is poured.

  • Create an agenda – This document must be given to all employees so that everyone on the construction site knows what the plan is. Confirm that the agenda works for all parties involved. Take into account changes in the weather, equipment breakdowns, employee absenteeism and the concrete supplier’s requirements.
  • Schedule meetings beforehand – Meet with all the construction crews to discuss the plan and find out what equipment will be needed for the pour. Ensure that everyone has read the agenda at the meeting and check that all contractors are ready for the concrete pour.
  • Communicate with your concrete supplier – On the day of the pour and a few days leading up to the event, check with the supplier that they are ready and still on-time with the delivery of the concrete. Check that the order is correct and that the right type of concrete will be delivered.
  • Check the construction site – Walk around the construction site before the concrete arrives. Make sure that the entry is accessible and that there is a clear route to the pour site for the delivery vehicles. Check that the ground is stable and clear from any other building material and tools. Ensure that there is an alternative exit route available if needed. Place signs around the construction site if you think they will be needed.
  • Check your equipment – Make sure all necessary equipment is ready and in the proper position. Check that it all works before the pour and ask contractors if they have all the tools they need for the job, such as pumps, shovels and floats.
  • Perform a safety analysisLook at the potential risks around the site and take steps to minimise any possibility of injury or damage. Remove all trip, slip and fall hazards. Inspect the contractors and ensure that they all have the right safety gear (hard hats, goggles, gloves and boots). Check that all supervisors are ready and in place.

Once these steps have been taken, the concrete pour can take place when all site workers are ready and know what to do. This planning is essential for a safe and efficient construction site. It will also ensure that the concrete pour goes according to plan and no unnecessary costs are incurred.

___

LafargeHolcim is a leading building materials and solutions company that has been operating in international markets for decades. We produce cement and aggregates for construction projects, ranging from small affordable housing developments to large-scale infrastructure projects such as high-rise buildings, dams and bridges.

___

LafargeHolcim Tanzania has been supplying the country and neighbouring countries with our world-class Tembo cement brand for over 30 years. Our head office and fully-integrated plant are located in the Mbeya Region in Southwest Tanzania.

___

At LafargeHolcim Tanzania, we believe customers come first. We listen to your specific requirements to supply and develop the best solutions for your needs. As the new leader in building materials, you can also rely on our cutting-edge research and development capabilities that have resulted in the finest materials for your construction projects, whether large or small.

___

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest for the best tips on construction, handy projects and the latest industry news. See our Instagram channel for more insights into our products.

How to stick to your project budget

Project budget image composition

Planning a budget for a building project, big or small, is an easy task if you know what to expect. If you prepare well and price your materials properly, you’ll be able to draft a budget and hopefully stick to it throughout the course of the project.

Cement prices vary depending on their purpose, so choose the right cement. LafargeHolcim Tanzania produces five quality products; Tembo Cement, TemboFundi, FastaPlus, SupaSet and PowerPlus. Consult with your supplier to make sure that you’re using the product for the right application. Here are some more tips that will help you stick to your project budget.

How to budget for a building project

The first step to the budgeting process is to make a list of everything you’ll need. Think of all the materials, tools and equipment that you’ll have to use, including safety gear. Find out the costs of each of the individual items and try to look around for the best deal.

Note that cheaper is not always better when it comes to tools and materials. The price is often linked to the quality of the material or tool. If the costs are too high, reconsider the size of your project – can you make it smaller? Think about paint and plaster – are they really necessary or will the project be ok without them?

Think about mixing the concrete yourself instead of paying someone else to do it. This can keep costs down but make sure you know how to mix concrete properly. You can also save money by using old building rubble for the base of your project instead of refined gravel or sand. Just ensure that the rubble is clean and free from any soil or other contaminants.

Tools and equipment to consider for your budget

Building requires a range of tools, from digging and carrying to levelling and smoothing. Here are some of the basic tools and equipment you may need for your project:

  • Wheelbarrow
  • Tamper or compactor
  • Trowel
  • Shovel
  • Pick axe
  • Plank or timber (for concrete forms)
  • Steel rebar
  • Concrete float
  • Spirit level
  • Plumb line
  • Rubber gloves
  • Dust mask
  • Large bucket
  • Chalk
  • String
  • Plastic sheet
  • Steel plate
  • Broom or brush
  • Rubber mallet or hammer

When it comes to budgeting for your concrete ingredients, such as cement, sand, gravel and water, you can consult your cement supplier for estimate volumes. LafargeHolcim Tanzania can give you an estimate of how much cement and aggregates you’ll need for your project.

Additional tips to keep your project on track

Always plan for extra variables. One of the biggest reasons why projects go over their budget is because they take longer than expected to complete. Time is money, so budget for a longer project than you think.

Add a few days to your project schedule and keep money aside for those days in case you need to buy more materials. If your projects are completed on time, you’ll have some extra money left over.

Use the right tools and equipment as they will ensure that your project is completed accurately and on time. It’ll also save you from having to do costly repairs in the future because the right tools weren’t used.

Know what you can and can’t do by yourself and budget to hire help. If you need a skilled painter or heavy equipment for digging, include these in your budget. Expert help may cost a bit more but it will save time and avoid costly mistakes in the future.

Creating a project budget is easy once you know what to expect. Follow these guidelines and you should be able to complete your project on time and with the money you have already saved.

___

LafargeHolcim is a leading building materials and solutions company that has been operating in international markets for decades. We produce cement and aggregates for construction projects, ranging from small affordable housing developments to large-scale infrastructure projects such as high-rise buildings, dams and bridges.

___

LafargeHolcim Tanzania has been supplying the country and neighbouring countries with our world-class Tembo brand of cement for over 30 years. Our head office and fully-integrated plant are located in the Mbeya Region in Southwest Tanzania.

___

At LafargeHolcim Tanzania, we believe customers come first. We listen to your specific requirements to supply and develop the best solutions for your needs. As the leader in building materials, you can also rely on our cutting-edge research and development capabilities that have resulted in the finest materials for your construction projects, whether large or small.

___

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest for the best tips on construction, handy projects and the latest industry news. See our Instagram channel for more insights into our products.