Whether you are working on your own home or building homes for others one of the most important tasks in General Contracting and project management is understanding and planing your task timeline. As the saying goes you can’t put the cart before the horse but even if you know you need a horse and a cart there are so many other factors before you can take the ride.
Smaller projects like planting a garden can often be thought out in your head but even a task like this is worthy of defining your desired outcome and all the steps you will need to take to get there.
What type of Design will you have?
Will you need to order Topsoil or Mulch?
Which business will give you the best deal and how far ahead do you have to place your order before it can be delivered.
What tools will you need and is it better if you rent tools or hire someone to do part of the work for you.
All of these things and many more will add up to a final garden project that you can be proud of.
Now consider the immense number of tasks and contractors and suppliers that you will have to organize when building a home or an addition to your home and you can see why some people who attempt do it yourself projects end up living in a construction site for weeks or months longer then necessary. This can be true even if you are working with professionals that complete their work correctly but are not managed correctly.
Knowing What Needs To Be Done
The easiest projects are ones that you have done before. This is why a home builder that builds one off homes or only a handful of homes a year will fail in comparison to a larger developer that builds hundreds of homes a year.
The main advantage a developer has over a builder is they have built that home many times before or one that is very similar. They know what problems will arise and how to plan for them.
It is not necessarily the fact that a good general contractor or project manager also has the skills to perform each task but at the very least they have an understanding of the skills needed and have gone through the process more then a few times.
If you do not have the experience behind you it means your planning stage will require educating yourself about all of the steps.
For instance in your Garden Project you know you will need fertilizer but some plants grow better with fertilizers that have different ratios of nitrogen and other chemicals. If you were to simply buy a large bag of whatever was on sale you may find your flowers grow great but your tomatoes just won’t grow.
So, for first timers the basic thing is .. plan, plan then plan some more then after you think you have everything lined up to work review your plan and start from the beginning. Ask as many questions of your contractors and suppliers as you can. If you feel that you are overusing their time then call around or even to another state and ask for advice.. I’m serious.. call a supplier or contractor out of your area and ask them a few questions about how much notice time they need before they can show up and when things need to be paid for… and definitely use online resources.
Understand what jobs need to be completed first and then notify everyone that you will be requesting them within specific times. Many contractors or even your building inspector will give you suggestions about methods and pre-notice cutoffs. Always be early and always know what you need to do to allow them to get their work done.
Get Advice From Anyone
Whether you notice your neighbor down the street has their own garden or a friend of yours just got their kitchen remodeled ask them questions.
Also ask advice of the people who are actually doing the work. Most of your dealings will be with a manager of a supply center or an owner of a contracting company but the people on the frontline can often tell you things that the owners never know or expose to a customer.
Organizing Your Timeline
Once you have collected all the information you can you should write it down in a day by day, step by step timeline.
You don’t want to pay that extra fee for a half dozen 2x4s that you forgot to order or have to leave the job to pickup a box of nails.
Once the project has started you should plan buffer zones into your timeline along with backup contractors and suppliers that way if a problem does happen you won’t need to take time to research what to do you will already know what to do.
The most important thing you should remember when completing any project big or small is that something is likely to happen to cause delays, problems and added expense.
This could be partly attributed to planning but the fact is you can not control everything that happens.
Sometimes you just have to be satisfied with almost perfect and then fix whatever happens.
This overview is to introduce you to the idea of timeline management and not specific tasks that need to be performed. Unfortunately every project is different and it would be impossible to list exactly what is needed for your specific project so it is up to you to examine the steps and plan for whats ahead.