How To: Reduce Rework in Construction

Matt Daly

Want a fast way to lose money, miss deadlines, and frustrate everyone from subs to project owners? It’s rework. Redoing something on a job site isn’t just a duplication of efforts. More often than not, rework requires some undoing first. That means you waste time, energy, and money in spades every single time rework is required.

But you already know this. What you may not know is how to avoid rework. After all, if there was a surefire way to make sure you never had to redo anything on a project ever again, everyone would do it. Wouldn’t they? Turns out, resistance to change could be keeping us all stuck in a rework loop.

While we can’t guarantee you’ll never face another rework issue, we can let you in on some key ways industry leaders are putting proactive processes in place to minimize these types of headaches. Here are five ways you can significantly reduce rework across all of your construction projects. 


#1: Put proper documentation processes in place

Did that drain get placed line connected? Did the correct steel members get properly fireproofed? When you’re trying to answer questions like these, documentation makes all the difference in the world. Proper, thorough photographic evidence of the project in its various phases allows you to rewind and check if work was completed or installed correctly, preventing the rework of knocking out a wall or tearing out insulation to double-check. 

If rework is required, documentation also helps you minimize it. Knowing exactly what’s going on under the layers you can see allows you to precisely pinpoint where rework is needed. This minimizes the demolition required to implement the rework — and the work required to undo that demo. 

Another benefit of documentation? It’s built-in accountability. In the event of rework, you can identify what went wrong, where, and when. No more finger-pointing. Just clarity on the root cause of the issue so you can fix it as quickly as possible. 


#2: Get technology to drive efficiency


Rework is all too often required because key information didn’t get into the hands of the right people at the right time. And when you’re relying on time-consuming manual processes like paper documentation, long email chains, or massive Excel spreadsheets, that’s not particularly surprising. 

Find a project management solution that makes it possible for all parties to update and share information in real-time. That way, everyone stays on the same page and can move forward together. 


#3: Nip problems in the bud before they start

Are all stakeholders in agreement about the project? Does everyone clearly understand their roles and responsibilities? Shrink design errors by implementing virtual design technology that allows everyone involved to review the project before you ever break ground. That way, changes can be made before an issue arises, not once you’re already partway through the project. Because everyone knows that once you break ground, changes beget rework. 


#4: Stay involved with scheduling


Time pressures can force subpar work. The issue, of course, is as you continue to build on and around that lower-quality work, the entire project suffers. Maintaining a schedule that allows all parties ample time to contribute their part is key. 

This is another step you can take well before ground break. Your project’s schedule needs more than just a cursory scan. Sit with it and think through each piece. Is there sufficient space in the schedule to accommodate the unforeseen (and, all too often, inevitable)? Plan for seasonal employee turnover, material shortages, and other issues that could derail your schedule. Building in some breathing room and moving pieces so work can continue wherever possible helps you avoid the rush that can lead to faulty work. 


#5: Implement quality assurance

What kind of quality standards does your company implement on its projects? Are you sure those standards are upheld at every turn, even when you’re working with a new sub? If you’re not positive the answer is yes, it’s a sign you need to formalize your QA processes. 

You can create a system of checks by outlining every area of the project that needs to be reviewed. Then, implement a sign-off function, whether that’s submitting a piece of signed paperwork or marking off a to-do in your project management software. This way, you can ensure that the important work of your project gets completed properly. 


Get more tools to avoid construction rework

Want to learn more about how to reduce working across all of your construction projects? Don’t miss the “Technology Assessments in Construction” session at Autodesk University. We’re going to be exploring the ideal framework for operational excellence and technology partnerships. Learn how to assess your team and project efficiency so you can identify gaps, then find tech solutions that give you the support you need to succeed. We’ll show you how to leverage technology to get measurably better project outcomes. 

Rework is the bane of the construction industry — but it doesn’t have to be that way. Integrate technology and refine your processes and you can significantly slash the possibility of problems on your projects. 

Want help crossing to-do #1 on your list? Talk to our team of documentation experts. Contact StructionSite today.

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