On time and within budget: Tops tips for a highly-successful commercial construction project

Time is money and when you apply that observation to the task of finalising a construction project, failure to complete the job within an agreed timescale could have a big impact on your budget. 

Here is a look at some strategies and tips that could help to ensure that you meet your goals for your construction project. This includes ways to source materials at the right price, steps to eliminate cost overruns, and why a lack of design information could be costly.

Flexibility with your timing

You will probably have a fixed timescale for completing a commercial construction project and if there are deadlines to be met, there might not be much flexibility in how long you get to finish the job.

Costing the job and sourcing the materials and labour you need at the right price, can vary according to the time of the year.

Costs can definitely vary by season, so if you have any flexibility in when you actually start the project this can influence the final budget. Some material costs have a tendency to vary according to seasonal demands and there are also windows of opportunity to be exploited where you might be able to fix a lower price than usual.

If you have a certain degree of flexibility with the timing of when you start your project, this gives you greater scope to stay within budget.

Target potential weaknesses

You know the strengths of your business but it also matters that you know how to identify and manage potential areas of weakness that could prove costly.

Cost overruns are always an unwelcome prospect when it comes to commercial construction projects, but if you are able to detect any noticeable patterns or trends from previous exploits, you can then target these weaknesses to stamp them out in the future.

Working alongside a consultant firm like Cochran Engineering can help you to cover all the bases and identify all the key aspects and potential pitfalls associated with each project.

Having a dedicated management team monitoring the project will often make a big difference in eliminating the potential for cost overruns.

Lowest bid not always the cheapest option

It is always easy to be tempted by the lowest figure being tendered when you invite bids, but you have to drill down below the veneer of the headline figure to see if the numbers truly add up.

Accepting the lowest bid might be fine if you are satisfied with the true merit of what you will be getting for your money rather than simply accepting the price on the costs being presented.

If you don’t clarify and evaluate the numbers being presented, you run the risk of finding that the lowest bid then results in extra expenses being incurred once you have committed to the process.

If you want to avoid cost overruns, don’t just accept the lowest bid without checking that the figures are realistic for what work that needs to be done.

The importance of detailed plans

A classic scenario for creating a cost overrun situation is when an architect provides plans that are comprehensive or complete enough to be able to cost the job accurately.

It can often be the case that an architect will be tasked with producing an initial set of plans for a construction project which outline general designs but are lacking in more specific details and specifications.

If you want to avoid this happening, you need to work with the architect to ensure that they provide full and detailed plans that allow you to cost the job accurately. If you don’t get all the information you need from the beginning, there is a very real possibility that you will end up spending over budget when additional work is then needed that wasn’t accounted for in the draft plans.

Getting it right every time

If you want to avoid cost overruns in the first place, there are several key aspects relating to your construction project that you need to address.

Aim to complete tasks in the correct sequence or you might suffer from additional costs and delays.

Be realistic with your schedule of project tasks if you want to avoid running over budget.

Make sure you have robust project management and control processes in place and have the right team to be able to see these through successfully.

You also need to be able to have good negotiating skills when it comes to managing contractors and suppliers and getting the right prices so that you can get the construction project completed on time and on budget.


Louie Haynes works in the construction industry and has experience in both commercial and residential construction work. His articles discuss best practises, workplace safety, tips for consideration and so much more.