7 Common Pitfalls of Construction Projects

7 Common Pitfalls of Construction Projects

When starting a construction project, it is imperative to consider potential challenges that may derail the project. Most pitfalls can be addressed during the planning process since poor planning leads to poor execution. To achieve the best possible outcome for your project, here are common pitfalls to be prepared for during the construction process:

  • Inadequate task management
  • The importance of scheduling
  • Challenges in procurement
  • Lack of clear communication
  • Understanding scope and complexity
  • Ignoring site conditions
  • Inaccurate costs and budgeting

Inadequate Task Management

Completing a construction project requires input from various parties, such as contractors, sub-contractors, designers, and architects. Managing these parties and delegating tasks effectively should be thoroughly planned out. Otherwise, the disorganization may lead to unassigned jobs, unclear details, and project cost overruns due to inaccurate estimations.

To avoid this, be sure to plan out a solid foundation with all the necessary details. Create benchmarks at each stage of the project and assign the right team to tackle those goals. Having project management software can be incredibly useful for managing tasks as well.

The Importance of Scheduling

Next, create a schedule that lays out the activities and sequences of your project. Establishing these details ahead of time will help to keep your team and project on track. Consider tasks that are dependent on one another or that may overlap. You might find tasks can take advantage of shared resources, which can expedite timelines and reduce cost.

At this stage, identify potential scheduling issues that may occur and take proactive steps to overcome them. Here is where permitting headaches can be overcome or altogether avoided, as long as the right preparation takes place first! Contacts at your contractor or with design agencies can also help you navigate the permitting process. Remember, in Houston, Texas, the average construction permitting time has been known to be delayed by months.

If any scheduling details change along the way, make sure to update those times on your project’s schedule. Staying on top of changes is a vital part of proper project execution. According to a 2023 report, only 20% of respondents updated their schedules within 1-2 days of becoming aware of the change. When timeliness is key, don’t delay on updates.

Challenges in Procurement

Issues that may arise with procurement of resources can result in long lead times. This issue prevails ever since the COVID-19 pandemic, which made all of us more aware of how shaky our just-in-time systems are. If the proper plans are not made in advance, a project can be delayed while you must wait for the necessary materials.

Aside from supply and demand issues, inaccurate procurement is another problem to be aware of. Not procuring enough of the right material or ordering incorrectly can lead to longer waiting times for your project. To overcome such issues, try to diversify the supply chain by using multiple suppliers—while keeping track of all the moving parts! Be communicative and stay connected with everyone involved to promptly address any challenges that may occur.

Lack of Clear Communication

Lack of clarity can be frustrating for anyone, so it is important to maintain regular communication with everyone involved on the project. This allows for the project manager to monitor progress, address any issues that may arise, and keep all involved parties informed.

Effective communication begins early. Establish relationships between all of your stakeholders, including the general contractor, architects, engineers, and suppliers, at the beginning of your project.

Building a communication strategy can help you to meet your project goals. When making a strategy, set expectations on how often and through what modes you may need to communicate. Evaluate as you progress through the project so you can identify areas of improvement and adjust as needed.

Understanding Scope and Complexity

All projects, no matter what size they may be, require a blueprint for success. Because of this, a project that expands beyond its original plan is one of the most common pitfalls you can encounter. To circumvent this, conduct a feasibility study to help you identify all the potential benefits, barriers, and constraints that could affect your project. 

When conducting such a study, be sure to consider what is vital to the project’s success. This will allow you to define and set realistic expectations for your construction project. Additionally, it is also recommended to have a contingency plan to fall back on.

Ignoring Site Conditions

Other typical complicating factors that you may run into include: high-altitudes, flood prone areas, ground obstructions, adjoining buildings, demolition, debris clearance, remediation, underground services, and roads. Keeping your project plans in mind, consider how the site’s conditions can help you achieve those goals.

If your project takes place on a historical site or with protected wildlife (i.e. protected trees or landscaping), give the right people a seat at the table to ensure planning goes smoothly. GSD Construction recently worked on a project re-developing a historical house in downtown Houston into a school. The construction project required special protection of the building and the surrounding trees. The end result was a beautifully restored structure with the original tree-cover, exactly as the client imagined it.

Inaccurate Costs and Budgeting

When you inaccurately budget for your project, it can lead to budget overruns. Complications can lead to increased costs as well. Fluctuations in pricing can even occur due to supply and demand, economic conditions, and geopolitical factors.

Considering all of these things, it is clear that costs can fluctuate at any time, so stay informed. Be prepared for these occurrences by planning ahead and having alternative material options selected in advance.

Planning for a construction project can be a complex process, as it requires you to consider all aspects of the dynamic task to ensure it will be properly executed. With all these potential pitfalls in mind, make sure to leverage the correct strategies with your team of contractors early-on in the planning process. If you can plan ahead to account for these common pitfalls, you can significantly increase the likelihood of your construction project’s success.

Navigating the Pre-Construction Process

Navigating the Pre-Construction Process

Whether you’re deciding to build a new commercial building or renovate an existing one, it can be an exciting time.

The most crucial part of the construction process is the pre-construction phase, as it lays the foundation for the project’s success. During this phase, important decisions are made, obstacles are defined, and plans are prepared. Navigating the pre-construction can be challenging, so we’ve simplified it to be more manageable. 

What is the Pre-Construction Process?

The pre-construction process is the preliminary process the determines the framework how the job is set up and run. During this phase, your team of professionals meets to discuss the project plan, design, and logistics.

Here are 6 phases to the pre-construction process.

Define the Scope

The first step is to determine the feasibility and scope of the project. This can include a suitability analysis and feasibility studies. A few key questions to answer are:

  • What am I building? Why is it needed?
  • What location is most suitable for the building I want?
  • What can you afford to build?
  • What are the factors that will make my project viable?
  • What resources will be required to complete the project?
  • What sources of financing are available to me?

Selecting the Right Team

A construction project can require a lot of different skill sets. Your general contractor will work with you to select the additional members needed, such as architects, consultants, and sub-contractors. When selecting a team, set criteria to score each potential firm and ask for project references.

Our contractor scorecard can be a great reference when selecting your team.


After determining the feasibility of the project, a budget is defined. Here, the contractor and design team work together to bring your vision to life with a realistic budget, including alternatives.

This budget will contain hard and soft costs. The hard costs relate directly to the physical construction, such as general contractor costs, subcontractor costs, and materials. Soft costs are necessary to the project but don’t relate directly to the physical building.

Details and Scheduling

Now that you have a building planned and a clear budget, the finer details can be determined. Details can include:

  • Size
  • Layout
  • Style
  • Utilities
  • Materials
  • Other essential details

From this, a schedule can be created. This schedule defines stages of the project with deadlines for requirements such as materials, permits, and more. Your general contractor will refer to this throughout the entire construction process to ensure the project is on schedule and take preventative action for potential risks.


Sourcing the right materials can be time-consuming, especially if there are supply chain delays. During this phase, your contractor will detail the number and types of materials needed for the project. They will also keep track of lead time lengths to keep the project on schedule and on budget.

Permits and Inspection

It’s important to know what permits are needed for the project and when to obtain them. Permit acquisition times have increased and can lead to issues and delays further down the line. Avoid disruptions with proper planning and phased permitting.

Once permits are purchased, initial inspections can start. This is to ensure all activities and plans meet code before the actual construction begins. Some of the key inspections are:

  • Site investigation and soil test
  • Building plan and document inspections

A successful pre-construction process helps lay the groundwork for a successful project, ensuring it is completed on time, within budget, and to the satisfaction of the client. GSD Construction works with you throughout the entire process, from inception to completion.

Stay tuned for more information as we dive further into the pre-construction processes. In the meantime, if you have questions or want more information, connect with us.