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The Components of a Good Construction Scheduling Specification

January 22, 2019

Let’s talk about what goes into a good scheduling specification. Construction scheduling specifications can be fairly long and detailed. They often end up in the general provisions and can be the longest general provision in your specification.

A good scheduling specification will address:

  • Definitions
  • Administrative Requirements
  • Technical Requirements
  • Definitions of Key Terms

    If the scheduling specification uses terms that aren’t defined elsewhere, like critical path, I usually recommend that there be a definition of terms section at the beginning of the scheduling specification.

    Here are three key terms that I think are probably the most important related to a critical path method schedule:

    • Critical path
    • Longest path
    • Float

    That’s not to say there aren’t lots of other important terms. But, at the very least, these three terms should be defined.

    Administrative Requirements

    I also recommend that your scheduling specification address what we call administrative requirements:

    The Responsibilities of the Parties

    Your specification needs to clearly identify the responsibilities of the parties with regard to the preparation, review, and acceptance of the schedule.

    The Types of Schedules to be Prepared

    It needs to show the types of schedules that are to be prepared: initial schedules, baseline schedules, schedule updates, revised schedules, and recovery schedules.

    The Timing of Schedule Submissions

    It needs to identify the timing of schedule submissions:

    • How long does the contractor have before it must submit the schedule to the owner? • Does there have to be a schedule available at the preconstruction meeting? • Does the contractor have 30 days to submit the

    Should You Use Video to Document Your Construction Project

    December 20, 2018

    A key objective of all construction documentation is to preserve a contemporaneous (prepared at the time), accurate, and factual record of what occurred on the project. And, frankly, the credibility of one document adds to the credibility of all your documents. Given the credibility of video, they not only serve to quickly and efficiently document important events, but they also enhance the credibility of all related documents.

    The nice thing about our phones these days is not only can they take great pictures, but they take great videos, too. I would not use video as a replacement for a daily log, mostly because it is very hard to access the information in a video (particularly if you have taken a lot of them). It can be hard to find the right video that has the right piece of information that you need quickly. But if you are performing potentially dangerous work or you are performing an unusual operation (an operation that perhaps involves multiple parties or could have catastrophic results), then it’s probably not a bad idea to be videotaping that kind of event.

    We worked on a project in Milwaukee where a large truss was dropped and someone was killed. It turned out that there were videos being taken by the general contractor. There was a video being taken by the steel truss erector. And there was a video being taken by a tourist who was standing outside the stadium. All of these videos were taken from different vantage points.

    The Best Use of Photos on a Construction Project

    November 20, 2018

    You’ve heard the expression a million times. It’s a cliché. A photo is worth a thousand words. I say that and I must tell you there are dozens and dozens of situations I have been involved with where there is a great photo record, but nobody has any earthly idea what the photos are of, why they are significant, or why they were taken. The point here is that, yes, a photo is worth a thousand words. But most photos, if they have no words accompanying them, are virtually useless.

    Be like Officer Obe when documenting your project with photos

    When I talk about photographs, I am often reminded of the song, “Alice’s Restaurant.” Yeah, I have a couple of gray hairs. In that song, Officer Obe had taken twenty-seven, 8 x 10, color glossies and had annotated those pictures with circles, arrows, and a paragraph on the back explaining what they showed. Well, you don’t need 8 x 10 color glossies, and you probably don’t need circles and arrows. You may not even need a whole paragraph. But, wow, just a little bit of information goes a long way in terms of making a picture extremely valuable.

    I will give you the best example I have ever seen of pictures used effectively. We were working on a bridge project and the bridge could reasonably be split into two projects. On one side, concrete girders supported the bridge deck. On the other side, steel girders supported the bridge deck. On the concrete

    The Challenge of Notes to File on a Construction Project

    October 18, 2018

    On a construction project, notes to file are often considered a form of communication. However, notes to file are not a complete communication. They are an incomplete communication.

    Why is that? Well, they are incomplete because you put the information to the file, but you didn’t share it with anyone else. So, it’s not really communication. You have communicated with the file, but you haven’t communicated with the party that might be affected by the note to file. There is nothing wrong with keeping track of what is going on and making notes to file. To some extent, a daily log is something like an organized note to file. By the same token, if the note to file is something that would cause someone to change their behavior, do the right thing, and help the project, then simply putting a note to file is not enough.

    Construction is not supposed to be strictly a “gotcha” game. We do want the other parties to pull their weight and execute their work as required for the project to finish timely, within budget, and to the appropriate level of quality. So, notes to file, while appropriate and useful in situations, are not communication. We should not anticipate or treat them as such.

    Why even use notes to file?

    What will we use notes to file for – to document unusual occurrences? I am sure that we could all come up with some good examples of what an unusual occurrence might be, like unusual weather, unusual meetings, unusual

    How to Organize Your Electronic Construction Project Documentation

    September 20, 2018

    One of the things that can be quite helpful when we are using electronic documentation is to use a common nomenclature or structure. What do we mean by the terms “nomenclature” or “structure?” In other words, using consistent naming or numbering documents so they are easy to find.

    Let me give you an example. I do a lot of work for the Department of Veterans Affairs. On many projects that I’ve been involved with, the project documentation was organized by Request for Information (RFI) number. For example, if the contractor submitted a RFI, it ultimately led to a change order, and extensive correspondence between the parties as it related to that problem. All the information relevant to that RFI was stored in that RFI file, and it remained there until it became a formal change order. At that point, as the files were transferred to paper change order files, it ended up being a good system. Once you knew the issue and its RFI number, you could go to that RFI file and find anything related to that issue. On other projects, I have seen the documentation organized by specification number. In other words, how it related to a particular specification section.

    I have also seen it organized by a predetermined file structure, where the entire organization used the same numbering system. For example, you might find correspondence under file 1302.1 where 1302 was the project number.

    There is no standard organizational structure for documentation on a construction project. Each organization develops

    Criticism of the ASCE Schedule Delay Analysis Offsetting Delay Concept

    August 20, 2018

    At the recent 2018 AACE International Conference and Expo, Mark Nagata presented his paper criticizing the ASCE Schedule Delay Analysis’s offsetting delay concept. The paper’s abstract is below.

    Abstract

    The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) published its Schedule Delay Analysis Standard in August 2017. Not as ambitious as AACE’s Recommended Practice for Forensic Schedule Analysis, ASCE’s Standard is largely composed of concepts pioneered, proven, and standardized by others. However, the Standard includes an unproven concept – offsetting delay. Offsetting delay is controversial, both, because it is unproven and, because it is biased towards the interests of contractors.

    The concept of offsetting delay states that an owner may be required to grant the contractor a time extension for an owner-caused, non-critical-path delay at any point during the project. This aspect of the concept modifies what has long been one of the basic laws of time extensions – the contractor is only entitled to a time extension to the project completion date when an excusable delay delays the project’s critical path and forecast completion date.

    The ASCE’s concept of offsetting delay is biased against the interests of the owner because it provides a time extension for non-critical-path delays to contractors, but does not provide relief to the owner from the contractor’s delay costs in identical circumstances. This paper evaluates the issues of criticality, concurrency, the redefinition of key terms, and other aspects of the ASCE Schedule Delay Analysis Standard’s offsetting delay concept in arguing for its removal from the standard.

    Please click

    16 Things You Need To Document On Your Construction Daily Reports

    July 18, 2018

    Over time, we have developed a list of 16 items that should be documented consistently on every daily report. We are going to discuss each, but a good tip is to pull out your company’s daily report template and compare it to our list. Every company should have a daily report template and it should be used consistently across all of your projects.

    Furthermore, to get all the information you want on your daily report, make sure your report asks for it. If necessary, modify your report template to include a section of all 16 areas that we are about to discuss.

    Even before we get to our first item, and although this is obvious, the report must be dated and we also recommend including the day of the week as well. We see many reports that are incorrectly dated. Having the day of the week identified can help sort out which date the report was truly recorded on.

    Item 1: Weather

    Our first item that should be included is the weather. You want a complete weather report for the day. Was it sunny, cloudy, rainy, or snowing? What were the temperatures morning, noon, and at the end of the day? How did the weather change throughout the day?

    Item 2: The Location of Work On Site

    Who was working and where were they working? Location can be defined by sectors on the plans, column lines, or using north, south, east, or west directions.

    Item 3: Work Accomplished

    Who is performing what scope? In this section, it is

    Incorporating Weather Days into Your Project’s CPM Schedule

    June 20, 2018

    An often-debated question is “How should a project schedule incorporate the workdays that might be lost to adverse weather?”

    While there is not one perfect solution for all projects, there are at least three approaches to incorporating weather into your CPM schedule. These approaches are:

  • Incorporating non-workdays into the schedule’s work calendars to represent the workdays that might be lost to adverse weather.
  • Increasing the durations of weather-sensitive work activities to represent the workdays that might be lost to adverse weather.
  • Adding an “adverse weather” activity at the end of project with a duration that equals the number of workdays that might be lost to adverse weather.
  • (Of course, there is always a fourth option, which is to assume that every day lost to weather will be made up by working on Saturdays or by working overtime. If this is the assumption upon which both your costs and your schedule are based, and both your contract and your other team members are on board, then you may not have to bake any weather into your schedule at all.)

    Each of these three options (except the one in which you do nothing to the schedule) will be discussed in more detail below.

    1. Incorporating Adverse Weather Workdays in Work Calendars

    In CPM scheduling software packages, users have to create or modify work calendars that identify when the contractor plans to work. For example, the most common work calendar is an 8-hour-per-day, 5-day workweek calendar that includes holidays and weekends as non-workdays. Each schedule activity is assigned to the work

    What If The General Contractor Wants To Scrap The Baseline Schedule?

    March 18, 2018

    In our questions and answers series, we’ll answer some common questions that we receive from readers of our Ideas & Insights section. Here’s the first question.

    Question:

    Let’s say a General Contractor is weeks behind schedule on a 12-month project and has replaced the Site Superintendent and Project Executive. The new Project Executive would like to scrap the baseline and start anew. If the owner were to entertain this suggestion to develop a new schedule, what would be some things we would likely need to have clear before proceeding? If the revised schedule is approved, would this mean the owner has inadvertently provided a time extension and therefore could not assess liquidation damages?

    Answer:

    The first piece of good news here is the contract has gotten rid of the Project Executive and Site Superintendent that weren’t performing. And the new Project Executive sees the schedule as an important management tool. The schedule is a management tool. If it doesn’t reflect the contractor’s plan to complete the work, it’s useless. If the Project Executive wants to update the schedule so that it reflects his (or her) plan for completing the project, then I think you should be supportive of this effort, particularly if the contract completion date has already passed. By the way, it is common for contractors that have fallen behind schedule to revise the schedule for completion of the work. These are often called revised, recovery, or completion schedules.

    Here are some of the things you need to be careful about:

  • The revised schedule might not be in compliance with the contract requirements or good scheduling

  • Prescriptive vs. Performance Specifications in Construction

    February 18, 2018

    Today’s Ideas & Insights is about two different ways to write specifications: prescriptive and performance. I’ll tell you about them, why they are different, and what you should consider before choosing them.

    Prescriptive Specifications

    The first one, which we are very used to using in the design-bid-build world, is what we call prescriptive specifications. If you were to look at a standard highway construction contract, you would see the owner sometimes even telling the contractor what pieces of equipment to use and how to use them.

    Prescriptive specifications are recipes: do this, then do this, then do this, etc. If you do all those things, you know we will accept whatever the results are. That can be a successful way to specify work on a design-bid-build project. It has been used for centuries. But it doesn’t fit very well within the design-build process, where you are not entirely certain exactly what you’ll be getting.

    Performance Specifications

    The kinds of specifications that might fit a little bit better with design-build projects are what we would call performance specifications. These specifications aren’t recipes. They don’t tell the contractor how to do the work. What they tell the contractor is what we want.

    For example, a prescriptive specification would tell the contractor exactly what size motor we want to drive the vacuum cleaner. In contrast, a performance specification would tell them what kind of suction we want at the other end. Then, it’s the design-builder’s decision as to how to size the motor to meet our performance objectives.

    The Challenge