If you want to sound like you know what you are talking about when you sit down with a construction project manager, demand they use lean construction methods to keep costs down. Just make sure you actually know what you are talking about! In its simplest form, this is ensuring that everyone works together to ensure a quick and effective build.
If you go back to when dirt was dirt, the construction project would start with a designer/architect. When that individual was done with his or her job, it was handed off to the builder. The builder lined up the subcontractors, and they each came in and did their jobs on their schedules. It was a costly way of doing business, which is where lean construction comes into play.
By now, I am sure you realize that every project is different and has its own set of variables. Having said that, things can always be done to ensure a much smoother and more cost-effective build. This starts by having the team work together rather than in individual components that merely hand work off to each other.
This starts with the initial meeting. The homeowner needs to sit down with the designer to verbalize their vision of how they want the home to come to life. This would be a one-on-one meeting back in the day, but that changes with the lean construction concept. While the builder is not drawing up the plans, they need to know how you see this project coming together. It is also vital that they hear from your mouth what your wants and needs are, as well as you theirs in terms of how the project will move long. They need to know what the most critical aspects of the project are to you, as there may come a time when changes need to be made to the plans. This will give them a much better idea of the ”no-touch” zone as far as you are concerned.
This is also where a residential construction project manager can come into play to help coordinate scheduling and supply delivery. For instance, drywall is not needed to sit outside for weeks when you have not even had the foundation laid. Reducing the stockpile on the site will reduce site logistics issues. When materials are delivered too early that are not needed, all they do is get in the way.
There will also be times when multiple contractors can be working in the same area at the same time, reducing the overall timeline of the project. Seamless scheduling will play a significant role in lean construction to ensure that as different aspects of the build become available for the next stage, the next crew is brought in to begin their work, even though other parts of the home may not be ready yet.
Lean Construction Checklist
Collaborative Programming – the team agrees on sequencing and scheduling.
Make Ready – every task is completed before moving on to the next task. As mentioned above, this allows other crews to begin their work rather than the entire project being put on hold because of incomplete work.
Production Planning – group meetings to lock in the tasks of the day or week.
Production Management – all progress is monitored and tracked in real time to ensure this project stays on schedule.
Continued Improvement – mistakes will most assuredly be made, but they are learned from and performance improves as we go along so as not to repeat those mistakes and delay the project. Revisions and adjustments are made to keep the project schedule as tight as possible, even when unforeseen events arise.
We have mentioned BIM software before as a tool, and this will also play a major role in keeping the project focused, on schedule, and on budget.