Doron Klein is vice president of product at digital construction verification platform SiteAware. Views are the author's own.
Rework is more than merely tolerated in commercial real estate construction—it's expected and built in upfront to project budgets and timelines.
Across regions and sectors, rework accounts for a significant portion of the total cost — up to 20% — and time —up to 30% — of commercial construction, according to McKinsey, accounting for $273 billion in construction errors each year in the U.S. As such, solving the root causes of rework can be a game-changer for general contractors and developers alike.
The challenge of improving quality and controlling risk becomes more daunting as projects become more complex and margins tighten.
As new technologies emerge in the industry, they provide the opportunity to change that equation and get ahead of the curve. Today's best practices enable top performers to achieve a 95% successful rate of installation in construction. But those 5% of errors suck up resources equal to many times those required to build something correctly in the first place. Building is much more efficient—and rewarding—than fixing.
So how can we build more and fix less to preserve money and time? A few key steps can help you achieve a project that goes off exactly as planned.
Identify and prevent errors as work is being performed
New technologies are leveraging digital compare and contrast tools to raise productivity. While many tools have focused on documentation and progress monitoring, newer generation tools, including digital construction verification apps that provide clash detection, for example, tackle the root cause by focusing on error prevention. This improves quality and provides actionable information as work is being performed, rather than after the fact, when rework would be required.
Enable learning as you go
Real-time information can also improve overall trade performance by identifying underperformance, misunderstood plans or poorly coordinated work sequences. This ensures that lessons are learned as quickly as possible. By understanding what is going wrong as you work, you not only eliminate compounded errors, you also iron out that particular construction process for the rest of the project.
Leverage data to set and measure quality standards
The burden of rework can severely complicate how you measure the performance of trades and project teams. The silos of information defined by contracts create an incomplete and self-reported flow of information on job sites. How much energy is wasted chasing information and assessing progress by your best managers?
We've reached the limits of self-reported process management, but data analysis can provide the next jump in productivity and management. By setting a measurable, quantifiable benchmark that is objectively and automatically reported, you can create a measurable standard across an entire company. Technology that tracks actual element-level progress and performance gives construction managers the data needed to set, and measure, company standards and those of their trade partners.
Data analysis also provides a new perspective on subcontractor performance, plan coordination issues, late work and exposure to risk. These lagging indicators can then be leveraged into leading indicators, using data to manage ahead of problems by predicting where attention and managerial guidance are most needed to deliver projects as planned.
Attract, empower and retain talent
No one dreams of being a reworker, of waking up every day to deal with errors and the conflict and paperwork they create. The people entering the industry today are tech-savvy, accustomed to working with digital tools that streamline efficiency.
Just as a young architect or engineer expects technology to enable them to better achieve their goals, the new generation of construction managers expects that they won't have to chase down information manually. The "two steps forward, one step back" nature of today's rework-laden construction process is an accepted frustration—that’s just the nature of construction. It is time to harness technology to break that cycle and focus on building.