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Site Preparation: Why the First Phase of Construction Takes Time



The site preparation phase in construction can be a complicated and delicate process. The prep work involves many different aspects, from site surveys to utility setups. Unfortunately, many people often overlook and underestimate this important stage of the project during timeline planning. But this mistake only leads to costly delays that throw off the entire project schedule.


This blog post highlights some of the main reasons why site preparation can take longer than anticipated so you can prepare better for any potential delays in your next construction project.



Poor Site Conditions

The site condition is an important aspect to consider when you want to plan any construction project. If a site contains heavy tree roots or other obstructions, they can significantly slow down the site preparation process and add extra time to your overall timeline.


Remember that proper site preparation involves multiple steps, and these poor site conditions may require additional equipment, labor, and materials. You might even have to prep the construction site differently than you originally planned, which often results in twists and turns during the site prep stage.


Additionally, if the soil quality is poor or has drainage issues, the site will need even more work before you can begin construction. This problem can lead to unexpected delays in the site prep phase, which slowly eats away at your timeline. But you can ease the site prep process if you work with an experienced contractor instead.


A reliable contractor will first assess the site condition before they start any work. If they suspect any unfavorable conditions, they're likely to bring this development to your attention before the site preparation process begins, so you can make necessary adjustments in advance.


In some cases, the contractor could suggest that you leave room for extra time in your timeline to account for any unforeseen site conditions.


Unexpected Site Complications

Sometimes, site complications arise that you can immediately see or know about until after the prep work begins. Unexpected issues, such as pre-existing underground utilities or poor weather, can add extra time to the site preparation phase of the project.


For example, if a site is exposed to a lot of rain, the contractor may need more time to safely prepare the area for construction. They'll need to figure out how to prevent flooding or site damage due to excessive wetness, which can be a major challenge.


In some cases, the site may need reinforcements to provide a secure and stable foundation. This process often requires additional materials, extra labor, and more site visits, all of which can add extra time to the prep stage.


Additionally, if a site has been previously built, the contractor might need to take additional steps to properly clear the site and make the area safe for construction. There might still be debris, hazardous materials, and other surprises to address before site preparation can go any further.


Make sure you account for any of these surprises in your timeline to ensure the prep stage goes as smoothly as possible. After all, you'll be better off if you add extra time to the prep phase than dealing with costly fixes and delays later in the project.


Poor Planning and Communication

The site preparation process requires careful planning, attention to detail, and clear communication between all involved parties. If there's a lack of communication or coordination between site engineers, contractors, and suppliers, you can expect delays in site preparation.


Site engineers and contractors need to be on the same page and have access to all the necessary materials for preparation work to proceed smoothly. Otherwise, the miscommunication could lead to a bottleneck that affects the site prep timeline.


In addition, if there's confusion regarding deadlines or specifications, site preparation can also take longer than needed.


For example, assume that site engineers are unsure of the site's exact measurements or layout. If they don't have access to accurate information, they won't be able to properly prepare the site on time. They may have to wait for clear instructions before they can begin the site preparation work.


Incorrectly Estimated Costs

The site preparation phase of a construction project requires a significant amount of labor and materials, which can add up quickly. This fact applies to both large and small construction projects.


Suppose the involved parties fail to accurately estimate the site preparation costs prior to the start of the prep work. In that case, the result could be unexpected budget overruns that could cause delays in the entire construction process –– not just the preparation phase. The contractor might have to wait for additional funding before work can continue.


Additionally, last-minute changes or requests can also add extra time and money to site preparation, leading to delays in the overall project timeline.


For example, if you want to add an extra room to the structure or make changes to site measurements, your contractor may need extra time and money to accommodate these requests and adequately prepare the site. And in some cases, the added time might be more than you initially planned for.


Site preparation is an essential step in any construction project, but it can be difficult to predict exactly how long the process will take. Consult Abbotts' Construction Services, Inc. if you have any site prep or construction-related questions. Our experienced site engineers are here to help you every step of the way as you plan out your project.

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