Most of us get annoyed when a train is late, or a parcel doesn’t arrive on time. So, it’s only natural to expect a façade project to run like clockwork.
In a nutshell:
- Due to the complex nature of façade projects, delays are possible
- Bad weather and global supply problems may cause delays that are outside the project team’s control
- Coordination between trades is the first step towards reducing delays
- Clients should consider vesting to mitigate supply problems
- Early engagement between all parties, and hiring an experienced façade company can help projects run on time
Most do – but delays are also common. The biggest problem is that unlike rail and postal services, façade projects tend to be one-offs. Add in the complex coordination of permissions, contractors, materials, machinery and site logistics, and it's no surprise that some projects may run late.
Of course, there are some delays that are nobody’s fault. Bad weather is the obvious one. But Brexit and the Covid-19 crisis has shown that labour and material shortages can be completely outside the project team’s control.
Other delays can be down to the contractor, sub-contractor or even the client if they make late variations to the design.
Based on our experience, here are the five most common causes of delays in a façade project:
- Lack of coordination between trades
- Bad weather
- Material delays or late procurement (including appointment of specialist contractors)
- Design ‘gaps’ in interface details (say, between curtain walling and cladding)
- Budget constraints or price rises forcing re-specification
However, rather than playing the ‘blame game’, it’s important to consider the steps that can be taken to reduce the impact. Here are some examples.
Construction projects are complex and it’s important to recognise the numerous inter-dependencies. For example, on a façade project, the steelwork contractor often pre-drills holes in the structural framework to help installation. Or on rainscreen cladding projects, specialist fixings are supplied in advance to the curtain-walling contractor.
Pre-construction meetings with all parties is essential. Involving architects, contractors, client and suppliers from Day One will help identify potential scheduling issues and blockers. The process should involve site investigations, design reviews and even prototyping.
Knowing that many construction projects run late (recent estimates suggest it could be as many as a third), it’s tempting to delay purchasing materials. But that could cause supply problems (and price increases) down the line. Vesting means that goods are paid for by the client but stored and insured by the supplier or manufacturer until they’re required.
Hiring experience may be more expensive but it will pay off in the long run. Façade companies with a proven record of success – backed up by industry-standard certifications - will be better placed to identify and prevent delays from occurring before they get out of hand.
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