By Jim Donovan

By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – When you get involved with any home improvement project it’s important to remember good planning is key to a smooth experience because any delays could end up costing time and money.

If you want to be sure your home improvement project moves along as quickly as possible it’s important to have a thorough plan from the start.

“Changing a project mid-stream is the most common delay for projects. Having a well documented plan when you start out will lead to a more efficient project,” said Angie’s List founder, Angie Hicks.

But sometimes changes can’t be avoided. You might decide to add something to a project or the contractor could run into problems with inspectors or sub-contractors. So be realistic about the timeline and build in extra time for unexpected delays.

And if you’re having any work done outside of you home make sure you plan for rainy days.

“No one can control the weather, but if you’re planning for an outside project it’s going to be important to build in some buffer for weather related delays. If you’re painting your house or adding new landscaping there may be times when they are not able to work. That will help manage expectations by building the buffer so your project comes in on time,” said Hicks.

5 Items that could delay plans:

  1. A change of plans: One of the biggest project delays is having the plans change mid-project. Even changes that seem minor, such as moving an electrical outlet to a different wall, could have knock-on effects that greatly magnify delays. Sub-contractors may have to be brought back, applications may have to be re-filed, and already completed work may have to be removed. A detailed plan from the onset can help reduce the urge to change plans and time built in timeline buffers can help mitigate any plan adjustments.
  2. Inspections: Inspections are a necessity for almost any construction project as failing an inspection can lead to huge costs and delays. Inspections have to be timed correctly to keep a project flowing smoothly, and a knowledgeable contractor can explain during the planning phases of a project what inspections have to be done at what time. Because statutes are different in various states and cities, a contractor with local inspection knowledge is valuable to keeping a project running on time.
  3. Shipping delays: Items like doors, windows and appliances are often ordered and shipped, sometimes from a long way away. Specialty items in particular can get delayed in shipping and cause all sorts of backups in the project timeline. Look for large suppliers and focus on in-stock items rather than back-ordered items to keep deliveries on time.
  4. Weather: The weather is something that no one has control over, but the extra time built into the project schedule can help tremendously when dealing with weather delays. Weather delays should be considered when outside work is being done but, even with inside work, the weather can adversely affect the project. Bad weather such as snowstorms can delay work crews from getting to and from the work site and can delay shipping items from other parts of the country
  5. Holidays: Holidays should always be detailed at the beginning of the plan, which is simple enough. However, plans should be made for communication availability even during holiday periods if necessary. For example, if a client is away and work is still ongoing, he or she should be in communication with the contractor to deal with any problems or potential delays quickly.

Angie’s List Tips: 3 Ways to avoid a project delay

  1. Planning carefully: One key aspect of planning is attention to detail. Using a knowledgeable designer can help mitigate communication problems and cover details that might otherwise go ignored. Furthermore, in the planning stage it is important to build in extra time for the project in order to deal with any delays that might arise. Although some project delays might be unavoidable, a carefully planned project will adhere much better to a timeline.
  2. Documentation: Documentation of plans, changes, inspections, orders and progress is key to avoiding delays. Taking note of when aspects of the project have been started, how long they are taking, and what changes are made will help both the contractor and the client be upfront about delays and the measures that can be taken to reduce them. Documentation is just one aspect of communication which is central to avoiding project delays with a contractor. Upfront planning, time budgeting with built-in buffers, and attention to detail also help reduce the potential for damaging delays during a project.
  3. Keep communication open: Stay in touch with your contractor throughout the project so you are aware if any changes need to be made. A good contractor will keep you apprised of the status of the project on a regular basis.

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