Reviewing and Approving Contractor Schedules
As many public works agencies have learned, you must obtain adequate contractor schedules to monitor progress and to avoid unnecessary delays and claims.
Recommended Scheduling Specifications
Pinnell/Busch’s recommended procedures for controlling construction schedules and defending scheduling claims by public works agencies and other project owners include:
- All contracts should require contractors to submit a schedule for approval, with a preliminary schedule at the pre-construction conference and an approved final schedule before the first progress payment.
- Monthly updates should be mandatory and enforced, with revisions when delays occur or scope changes.
- Larger projects need a CPM schedule with a timescaled network diagram. Activity listings should include activity numbers, descriptions, durations, scheduled early and late start / finish dates, relationships, constrained dates, total float, and the subcontractor or general contractor crew responsible for each activity.
- Very large, time-critical projects require resource loading, justification of constrained dates, identification of work areas, productivity assumptions for critical activities, and activities for procurement, submittals, traffic detours, start-up, etc.
Review and Approval Procedures
- Your best approach to schedule review is partnering and a joint review with the schedule pre parer and superintendent. Trace each critical or near-critical logic chain through to completion. Discuss expected crew size and capacity, work quantities and production rates. Carefully record all assumptions, as you may need to use them later to defend against scheduling claims.
- Check for impractical logic, crew overlaps, overly optimistic durations, missing activities or relationships, unseasonable scheduling of weather-sensitive work, lack of crew chases and excessive demands on agency furnished resources, etc.
- Then, jointly re-review the schedule in a “brainstorming” mode to identify improvements.
Schedule Monitoring and Recordkeeping
Field personnel need to understand scheduling fundamentals and the contractor’s schedule. They need training in what to record, and how to monitor, record, and report progress and discrepancies.
Monthly schedule updates should include: actual start and finish dates, percent completes or days remaining, and minor revisions to completed or pending activity durations and logic. Note periods of intermittent progress and the reasons, along with weather delays, alleged impacts and problems, and added activities for change order work, etc. Handle schedule updates and revisions in a partnering mode with joint meetings and timely approval, or clear rejection with detailed reasons. Record detailed progress notes independently of the contractor’s records.
Change order approval should include review and approval of the contractor’s” fragnet” schedule showing the extra work and any impact. It’s cheaper to approve time extensions when negotiating change orders concurrently with the work, as most contractors will forego extended overhead claims in exchange for receiving an adequate time extension and their direct costs.
Defense of Scheduling Claims
- When delay or acceleration is alleged or anticipated, increase monitoring and recordkeeping per your Change Order Management Plan.
- Respond promptly to time extension requests, to avoid constructive acceleration claims, while requiring the contractor to substantiate alleged delays.
- Review scheduling claims promptly — even if that requires bringing in additional personnel. Identify the issues and legal theories, and verify all the facts. You may want to create a “detailed as-built schedule” — a timescaled activity barchart/network-diagram based on day-by-day, detailed job records.
- Compare the as-planned schedule to the as-built and create a “would have been, but for. .. ” schedule that identifies contractor and owner / designer delays, as well as non-reimbursable (e.g., weather) delays.
- When delay or accelerated impact costs and labor inefficiencies are claimed, use a combination of the many new and effective methods of analysis now available.
- If you believe the responsibility or impact is partially yours, partner the solution promptly.