How to analyze the causes of construction delays

Consider that in 2019, there was 1.31 trillion U.S. dollars spent on new construction. With an average overrun of 28% on construction projects, that means over $300 billion was due to overruns in 2019 in the United States alone. Therefore, analyzing the causes of construction delays is more than worthwhile.

Sometimes, reputations are well-earned. This is the case with the construction industry when it comes to delays and cost overruns. Don’t believe me? Google construction delays and cost overruns and see the results. So, we know there’s a problem - the question is how to solve it.

Why analyze construction delays?

Just how big a problem is construction delays? Consider that in 2019, there was 1.31 trillion U.S. dollars spent on new construction. With an average overrun of 28% on construction projects, that means over $300 billion was due to overruns in 2019 in the United States alone. Therefore, analyzing the causes of construction delays is more than worthwhile. 

Law firm Smith Currie notes that “Various approaches to analyzing construction schedule delays have evolved over the years, but no standard method has emerged.” They note there is no consensus method of forensic schedule delay analysis (though they can be grouped into categories to measure delays in terms of days). This is relevant because, “…various methods of forensic schedule delay analysis will produce different results even when applied to the same set of facts.” 

Of course, law firms are concerned with establishing which party is to blame and therefore who is responsible for the financial loss. Though certainly important, this type of analysis does not help contractors and owners learn from the delay and avoid similar situations in the future.

Forensic construction schedule analysis methods

According to Spire Consulting group, there are multiple forensic schedule analysis methods that can quantify project delays. The most common of those methods are:

  1. Impacted as-planned. They note that because this methodology doesn’t require an as-built schedule which makes it hypothetical.

  2. Collapsed as-built. Says Spire, “This methodology is easy to understand and does not require an as-planned schedule or contemporaneous schedule updates. However, it can be manipulated with the insertion of after-the-fact logic ties and delay events.”

  3. As-planned vs. as-built. Described as simple, this technique compares the planned versus the actual. It works best on short simple projects. However, if/when things go awry from the original plan, the accuracy of it lessens. 

  4. Time impact analysis. According to Spire, this comprehensive method “…is used to analyze each delay event individually in chronological order to calculate its impact. This methodology quantifies each delay based on the schedule immediately before and after the delay event took place. The difference between the project completion date before and after the event determines the extent of the delay.” The downside of this is that it is considered hypothetical and “can be overwhelming to perform if there are numerous delay events.”

  5. Windows analysis: Although this type of analysis “identifies delays as well as acceleration quantities and considers real-time conditions and actual construction progress,” it requires a lot of time.

 

Analysis and Results

Each method could prove helpful in analyzing construction delays after a project is complete. The latter three methods, however, have the bonus of being able to analyze a construction delay while a project is being performed which could help minimize the time over schedule.

By gaining clarity on the cause of the delay and if it’s an issue that can be addressed, such as poor communication, insufficient staffing, under-utilized staff, supply/material delay, inadequate amount of equipment, etc., owners and contractors can adjust.

However, adjusting large and complex projects is difficult. Creating a schedule is time-consuming and complicated due to the nature of work on construction projects where elements are interrelated.

 

ALICE Can Help

Another reason why construction delays occur is because the original schedule was not well conceived. Creating a schedule is a time-consuming process and companies typically have little time to consider what-ifs to create the optimal schedule. 

ALICE uses the power of AI to quickly create schedules. Therefore, by using ALICE during preconstruction, construction companies can create multiple construction schedules for all contingencies, analyze their options and develop an optimal project schedule and resource mix.

And if a project falls behind during construction? ALICE Manage can help mitigate delays by generating corrective schedules automatically.

Analyzing the cause of a construction delay can lead to an alleviation of that cause both during the current project and on future projects. ALICE makes the challenge of analyzing construction delays simpler and can help minimize delays leading to millions of dollars saved.

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