Builders should plan, schedule, and monitor the design phase of a project with the same doggedness and attention to detail they display when it comes time for the actual construction.

It always annoyed me as a jobsite superintendent that development company owners and managers casually waste weeks or months during the design phase…procrastinating over simple design decisions…then treat every hour on the schedule as if it were a matter of life and death once the construction started.

Equally disappointing is the sometimes total lack of preplanning involving modifications and color scheme decisions on the sales models.

I once worked on a project where the company owners would ask the painting contractor to paint two or three potential colors on the exterior stucco walls at various wainscot, banding, and pot-shelf areas.  Several people from the main office would then come out to the project and review the color samples on the exterior walls.  The following week the painter would paint two or three more sample colors on the walls, and the group from the main office would come out again and review the colors.

This activity went on for three or four weeks, with only two or three colors going up each time.  The main office group finally made a decision after five weeks.  The frustration from my perspective was that all the paint samples could have been painted on the walls at the first field visit…and a decision reached shortly thereafter.

With a little preplanning and foresight…the entire process could have been completed in a few days rather than five weeks.

On this same project, however, because of this and other indecisiveness on the part of the company owners and managers…the sales models construction schedule became so compressed that it degenerated into the typical frantic scramble to make the grand opening date.  My credibility and reputation as a jobsite superintendent were on the line within those last few weeks and days leading up to the sales models opening…but no one from the main office remembered the valuable weeks or months lost earlier during the design phase…because of poor time management.

When people say that time is money during construction…they should also remember to say that time is money during the design phase and the sales models construction phase.

Builders need to look at themselves, the architect, and the various design engineers in terms of manpower, milestones, and completion dates with the same scrutiny and self-discipline they look at field supervision and subcontractor performance during the construction.