By recognizing and solving conflicts quickly, an organization can save thousands upon thousands of dollars annually. The key is to focus on efficiency in the pre-planning stage, and then to follow through until project completion.  

Identifying and solving problems expediently within any business should be of the utmost importance for all levels within a company. After all, the quicker a problem is solved, the less time and money is lost. Beyond the monetary benefits, a workplace that runs smoothly and stomps out issues quickly tends to have happier employees and far more satisfied customers and/or clients overall.  

This is true across all industries, but construction is one of the most challenging because we work in essentially an “un-controlled” environment that is constantly changing. Establishing processes, inserting controls, and creating standards is much easier in the relatively controlled environment of manufacturing, where the facility can be designed around efficiency. When the same or similar things are built over and over, unexpected problems are less likely to arise.

With construction each jobsite, the manufacturing environment, is created from scratch for each project. Because of this, the possibility of problems emerging within the jobsite that will affect the cost of the project is magnified exponentially.

The big opportunity in construction to save money on a project is to very efficiently plan the work. Not only will efficiently planning the work save time, it will reduce the possibility of common problems emerging, and that will save money over the course of the project.

Focusing on pre-planning projects and improving efficiency for a subcontractor is critical to the overall success of any construction project. Understanding the cost of problems within the construction industry, and on the jobsite in particular, is the first step. Learning how to recognize these problems at the earliest possible stage, and correct them, will save valuable dollars per project, and over the course of a year, these savings can add up big.


The Cost of Problems

Prolems are not usually recognized until you are right in the middle of them.  At this point, the problem will cost about 30 percent of the original cost to fix, so if you are in the middle of a $1,000 piece of work, and discover a problem, it will cost about $1,300 before you are done.  In the worst case, when problems are discovered after the work is complete, it will cost up to 80 percent to fix. This is lost money, and at this point, there is no way to recover it.  Think about something as simple as a beam that conficts with the HVAC ducting above the ceiling.  Finding it on the drawings and making corrections to either the structural or the HVAC fabrication or both will cost a lot less than finding the problem out when you are installing the HVAC ducting. 

Therefore, it’s easy to see that the focus needs to be on spending whatever resources are necessary to identify and solve problems before the middle of construction. 

Construction and Problems

Constructing a project is challenging; it is very messy. The number one thing to remember is that there will always be problems. Problems are a fact and they need to be factored into your plans far before day one on the jobsite.

“If a problem has no solution, it may not be a problem, but a fact, not to be solved, but to be coped with over time.”– Shimon Peres (Rumsfeld’s Rules)


Problems are often amplified on construction projects because of the separation of the design functions from the construction functions.

Architects, engineers, and design consultants are often forced into “low-bid” contracts, and the pressure to constantly deliver lower prices means cutting out on coordination between engineering disciplines, eliminating detail drawings, cutting down on elevations, minimizing plan-checking, peer reviews, etc.

All of the cost-cutting on the design side means that fewer and fewer conflicts are caught at the design stage, and are then left for the contractors to figure out. While problems cannot be eliminated, by focusing on pre-planning, they can be reduced.

The quicker conflicts are recognized and overcome, the more successful your project will be. By focusing first on pre-planning, then on efficiency, and then on quickly identifying and solving problems, your organization will save, at a minimum, thousands of dollars annually.

DAVID BROWN is the Founder and President of D. Brown Management, a consulting and management firm that helps construction companies improve profitability. See for more information and to sign up for a free newsletter.