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Hospitality construction and renovation work is unique in that, more often than not, it requires contractors to perform complex, bespoke, and intricate work while remaining invisible and inaudible. To eliminate disruptions to the typical flow of business, seldom do luxury hospitality venues close for construction. Instead, renovation and restoration projects must be completed in short, often aggressive timelines. 

In addition to everyday construction challenges, aggressive timelines require general contractors to anticipate and plan for a number of scenarios. Inevitably, the one-of-a-kind Italian tile will get delayed in customs, or a spontaneous labor strike will prohibit ships from being unloaded, thus delaying critical materials to the jobsite. These occurrences cannot be used to rationalize delays.

Hospitality construction and renovation provide a solid roadmap for approaching a variety of projects with tight, demanding deadlines. The following tips will help ensure construction challenges do not become construction problems, and that the next project will be delivered on time, no matter how aggressive the timeline.

Planning and Preconstruction

Planning is the single most important element to successfully executing a project within a tight deadline. In the majority of hospitality projects, the planning phase can run three times as long as the on-site construction phase, and it is at this stage that the bulk of the work enabling general contractors to meet their deadlines occurs. 

Contractors must plan for what they know, but also what they don’t know. And in renovation work, where there are a lot of unknowns, experience pays dividends. Prior to the start of construction, a senior member of the project management team should perform a preliminary investigation of the venue, surveying its condition for anything that could disrupt the schedule. While nobody can know with certainty what lies behind the walls, a seasoned construction professional should be able to anticipate potential challenges; for example, the age of the building and condition of grout can provide clues to moisture issues.

Team Member Coordination

Once the work is accepted and the schedule set, the construction manager begins orchestrating a delicate ballet of team members and subcontractors in an activity that could make or break the timeline. In a hospitality project, factors such as on-site events or nearby conventions can significantly impact the construction workflow. Additional daytime traffic may require crews to shift to an evening schedule. Often, the on-site construction manager must get creative to keep work on track. This could include coordinating activities so multiple trades can perform work simultaneously or creating a second shift to accommodate the client’s needs. 

Materials and Procurement

Don’t overlook the impact of materials selection and procurement processes on the construction timeline. Using prefabricated materials can be the difference between meeting an aggressive timeline and falling short. Pre-fabricated mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) connections enable plumbers and electricians to pre-mount fittings in the shop, thus reducing on-site work time from weeks to days. The same is true for carpet, which can be pre-cut to fit, reducing on-site installation time significantly. 

Next, establishing relationships with trusted vendors can facilitate rapid procurement when it matters most. Procurement milestones and decision deadlines should be outlined during the planning phase and the schedule updated throughout construction. 

Communication and Decision-Making

Daily check-ins with the client, subcontractors and key stakeholders, such as the hotel management team, are vital to evaluating progress, adjusting schedules and staying on track. 

Project management software is an invaluable resource for managing communication in projects with tight deadlines. These systems are designed to take in project workflows and automate the process for generating and distributing scheduling reminders. These “taps on the shoulder” generate a sense of urgency necessary in hospitality construction.

The biggest risk associated with aggressive deadlines is facilitating timely decision-making by the myriad stakeholders, each of whom has his or her own needs and demands. Timely decisions are absolutely paramount—if you don’t know what you’re building, it can’t be built. Construction managers can mitigate delays before they occur by always coming to the table with a “hot list” of items to be addressed, as well as sufficient options and alternatives to encourage discussion and, ultimately, decisions.

In construction, it’s impossible to plan for every contingency. But the right blend of experience, planning, coordination, and communication can make it possible to overcome unexpected challenges and meet aggressive timelines with ease. Then, if that porcelain Italian tile gets held up in customs, the workflow can shift … not stop.


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