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Large number of UK construction projects likely to be late, says survey

A survey covering 2,000 construction projects in the UK has found a high proportion are likely to be finished more than six months late.

Research by the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) examined the construction industry's methods to manage time on projects, in particular the techniques used and the competence of those engaged in the process.

Its results revealed a situation where training is failing to keep apace with technological advances in time-keeping and, as a result, more complex projects are highly likely to be finished late.

"The growth in training, education and skill levels within the industry in the use of time-management techniques has not kept pace with the technology available," said CIOB senior vice president Keith Pickavance.

"This should be of concern to many companies, as there is a trend towards developing contracts which are increasingly punitive if not executed efficiently.

"It should be recognised that the industry manages many projects very well indeed and the UK construction industry in particular is regarded around the world as a leading force; but we have to accept that respondents in this survey regarded the quality of time-management on construction projects as generally poor. Over half were familiar with only a master schedule being used, with no short term planning. Such schedules would typically be in bar chart form with no linked sequencing. In their experience, managers consequently would be unable to measure the impact slippage or the imposed changes on the works. Therefore managers would not be able to manage the effects of the delay on project completion, except intuitively."

According to the survey's 70 respondents, certain types of project have a reasonable chance of being finished by, or before the completion date, using traditional methods of time-management and without modern methods of time control. These include, low-rise offices, and commercial, industrial, housing, schools and educational buildings, shops and shopping malls.

However, the results also show that more complex projects have a poor chance of being completed on time without advanced methods of project control being employed. These include hospital, clinic and health-related buildings, prisons and security infrastructure, stadia, railway and high-rise projects.

Those responding to the survey felt that:

  • The design team is rarely consulted by the contractor about a time-management strategy.

  • The more complex the project the less likely it is to be completed on time.

  • A high proportion of complex projects are likely to be completed more than six months late.

  • The type of construction contract and procurement method has no discernable effect on the incidence of delayed completion.

  • The contractor is usually held to be predominantly at fault for delayed completion.

  • Records of resources used and work performed are usually inadequate for effective time control.

  • Very few projects are currently managed by reference to modern methods of time control.

  • Delayed progress is not often notified promptly or widely.

  • Improved facilities for the education, training and accreditation of planning engineers and project schedulers are needed.

A full copy of the report is available to download at

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