How can subcontractors stay ahead of schedule?


One of the regular challenges a subcontractor can face during a construction project is keeping up with the schedule.

Below are three main components — from a construction manager’s point of view — that directly affect a subcontractor’s ability to keep up with a project’s schedule: manpower, materials and communication.


At bid time, a subcontractor uses a preliminary schedule to figure out how much manpower will be needed from their firm and at what phase of the project they’ll be needed.

During the course of construction, things might change. Often times, different subcontractors are ahead of or behind where they need to be and that can directly affect a firm’s performance.

It’s a good idea to communicate at least twice a week with the site foreman to make sure the job is staffed properly.


Materials can also affect job progress: it’s hard to build anything without all of the necessary materials.

Light fixtures, HVAC units and flooring are examples of long-lead items that take a longer time to procure than other materials.

Always make sure to communicate with the construction manager about long-lead items, and make sure they’re being tracked on the project schedule.


Construction schedules can be very challenging to maintain. There are many moving parts.

When things change, a subcontractor needs to let the other firms know as soon as possible, especially the construction manager.

The smallest item can have a huge affect on the overall success of the schedule. You wouldn’t think that floor tile could hold up light fixtures, but this does happen.

Open lines of communication, understanding when and where manpower is needed and material delivery dates are three key components a subcontractor can closely monitor to stay ahead of schedule. 

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