What’s the Number One Problem Construction Companies Struggle With?

It Would Be So Much Easier If There Was Only One Problem to Deal With

The construction industry is a complicated business and is only getting more so in today’s fast-paced world. If you’re working in construction, or know someone who is, you know how overwhelming it can be trying to keep up with the business.

As complicated and overwhelming as the physical on-site construction portion is, the business part is equally daunting. This includes things like budgeting, scheduling, communication, labor issues, planning, and cash flow to mention a few.

While researching the number one problem construction companies faced, it was confirmed that there is more than one problem, and they are common across the industry. Trying to ensure that projects stay on schedule, within budget, compliant with safety regulations, and running smoothly is difficult.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was only one problem?

Blackridge Research and Consulting is a market research and consulting organization. Their 2023 blog about the Major Challenges Facing the Construction Industry confirms what I’ve been saying for years.

Here are seven major construction industry problems –

  • Cost overruns – This is one of the top construction industry problems. This is when a project exceeds its pre-planned budget. A McKinsey study estimates that 98% of large construction projects deal with cost overruns of more than 30%. This is often caused by poor cost estimates during the planning phase, design change requests, and payment delays. This results in lower profit margins, material shortages due to running out of funds, damage to the company’s reputation, and delays.
  • Delays – The same McKinsey study also shows that 77% of construction projects are at least 40% late. Some factors that contribute to this can’t be controlled, i.e., weather, labor shortages, and equipment failures. But there are as many or more factors that can be controlled and prevented, including scheduling issues, project conflicts, and incorrect data. One of the best ways to reduce delays is through the use of technology but the industry’s willingness to adapt is a problem.
  • Push back on new technology – This is one of the biggest problems in the construction industry. Its hesitancy to adopt new systems and processes that could make their companies more efficient is a problem. Even when construction companies acknowledge that there are solutions that they could benefit from they tend to stick to the mantra, “This is the way we’ve always done it”.
  • Poor communication – One of the most prevalent construction issues is poor communication. Since construction projects require multiple people during the planning and construction, effective information exchange is crucial for the project’s success. Oftentimes, there’s a disconnect between the office and on-site workers. Poor communication is linked to a high percentage of construction problems resulting in complications such as unrealistic expectations and important tasks being overlooked. Keeping everyone in the loop by sharing obstacles and daily progress is a great way to avoid conflicts. Documented communication helps in cases where conflicts do arise.
  • Poor planning and budgeting – When projects aren’t planned well it leads to unachievable goals that can result in construction issues like stagnant productivity. It helps to break larger goals down into smaller and more attainable ones with daily objectives. In terms of budgeting, incorrect estimates can disrupt progress and can cause projects to be delayed or dropped altogether. It can also lead to a reduction in company profit.
  • Lack of organization and poor document management – This is another prevalent problem in the construction industry. Construction involves dealing with a lot of information, from contracts to material orders to receipts to insurance certificates. Document management is not something that people in construction typically like doing. Not doing it is inefficient and creates room for mistakes. Having a system that is digital allows for better access and centralizing important information.
  • Cash flow issues – Problems with cash flow can cause construction challenges. Having a steady stream of funds is crucial to paying employees, subcontractors, vendors, and suppliers on time. When payments fall behind, it further disrupts cash flow, halting project progress and causing delays. The reason so many construction firms struggle with managing a project’s funding is that they rely on outdated systems. Having more modern solutions can ensure that all payments are made and accounted for.

Dealing with these problems is the reason I developed the business tools that I use at Timber Creek Construction every day. Seeing other construction companies struggling with the problems is the reason I started writing about them on Solution Building.

Now we’re going to make these tools available to construction companies that are tired of feeling trapped with no way out.

We plan to open our digital Business Building Toolbox next week. These tools and training are designed to help construction companies build the business that they always dreamed of. We will continue to add new tools and training in the future. If you would like more information about these tools and training and how they can help your construction company with these problems as well as others, schedule a free 30-minute consultation here.

Wouldn’t You Like to BUILD Your Construction Company into Your Dream Business?

This Requires an UNDERSTANDING of your Problems and Having Solutions to Fix Them

Last week we talked about the high number of construction companies that fail and some of the reasons this happens. None of these companies were started hoping that they would go broke and go out of business.

So why is it that construction companies fail so often?

We discussed some of those reasons last week. They included things like – a lack of funding or poor cash flow, poor production performance on projects and not having a good business plan.

These problems are more on the business side of things than doing construction. Most people in construction just want to do “construction”, they don’t want to do “business” stuff.

If you want to BUILD your dream construction company, you need a plan…a Blueprint for BUILDing a Better Business.

This plan starts with Being aware that there is a problem. Most people who own or manage construction companies know that something’s not right, but don’t know what it is. They know how to build buildings but not businesses.

Being aware that there’s a problem is the first step. The second is, Understanding what those problems are. Understanding what their business needs help with. Understanding that just like building a quality building isn’t a simple task…neither is building a successful business.

To help us Understand what construction companies are struggling with, we have developed a short survey. In exchange for your time filling out this survey we will give you a free 30-minute construction company consultation to help you Understand the problems your company’s dealing with.

We’ve talked about the first two steps to BUILDing a better construction company, the B and the U.

  • BEING AWARE of the problems
  • UNDERSTANDING what those problems are

There are three more building blocks needed to finish building the foundation of your dream business.

They are –

  • INFORMATION on how to fix those problems and INTRUCTIONS for implementing those solutions into your business
  • LEARNING how you use these processes and systems in the daily operation of your business
  • DELIVERY of the DREAM – This is where your dream business becomes a reality. It is where all the hard work begins paying off.

In upcoming posts, we will dig deeper into the I, L and D of BUILDing a Better Business and how these building blocks are the foundation that successful construction companies are built on.

If you own or manage a company that is involved in construction, don’t forget to fill out the survey and get your free consultation! Also, if you know someone in the construction industry that you think would benefit from a construction company consultation, please send them a link to this post or the survey.

Link to the survey – Understand Your Problems Survey (surveymonkey.com)

I Know That I Have a Construction Problem…Now What Do I Do?

Just Knowing That There’s a Problem is More Than Half the Battle

As we go through the daily actions of living our lives, we become oblivious to things on the periphery. This is especially true of things outside of our expertise. This lack of awareness includes things like construction if you’re not actively involved in the building industry.

When there is a situation that catches the attention of someone who is not a construction professional, it begs the question of…what do I do?

If you know someone who is in construction, you could ask them. But what if you don’t know anyone or don’t trust the ones you do know?

This is where virtual construction consulting comes in.

We discussed virtual construction consulting previously. Today we’re going to actually do some consulting.

The question:

There’s a gap between the tops of some of the rafters and the ridge. Some have short boards fastened to the sides of the rafters sitting on top of the ridge. Some have hurricane clips attached to the rafter and ridge “supporting” the rafter.

This doesn’t look right. Should it be like this?


This is an example of – whoever built this did not know how to construct things properly.

The problem:

In construction everything needs to be supported to transfer the weight of the building to the ground. You can’t just put a board up in the air and let go expecting it to stay. Gravity will win.

According to the residential building code, rafters should not be more than 1 ½” offset from each other on the ridge beam. The rafters should be fastened to the side of the ridge beam. The ridge beam should not be less in height than the cut end of the rafter.

Without getting off into the weeds of engineering, just know this…

The rafters are supporting the ridge, not the other way around.

The question:

What is the most cost-effective way to fix this problem?

There are several ways that this could be fixed, but the primary point is cost-effective. Without going through all the scenarios here today, let’s focus on my recommendation.

The goal is to get the rafters attached to the side of the ridge.

The answer:

To do this, it will require disconnecting the rafters from the ridge beam, cutting the rafters to the correct angle to fit against the side of the ridge beam and then lowering the rafters down to align the top of the rafters with the top of the ridge beam.

Before starting it must be determined if the existing rafters are long enough to be cut at an angle and still reach the side of the ridge beam?

This will be determined by measuring from the bottom end of the rafter to the top corner of the ridge beam. This will be the length needed. Then measure from the bottom end of the rafter to the top end of the rafter. If there is enough length to make this cut, then this will work.

Once the length question has been affirmatively answered then the actual work can proceed.

Starting at one end, put some temporary support under a section of rafters. Disconnect the rafters from the ridge board, then begin lowering the rafters one by one to align with the top of the ridge beam.

Once you’ve done this, the rafter can be attached to the ridge beam by nailing at an angle through the end of the rafter on both sides into the ridge beam. Or the rafters can be fastened to the ridge beam with rafter hangers.

Continue this process from one end of the building to the other, doing rafters on both sides of the ridge beam as you go. This is critical because you need to keep equal pressure on both sides of the ridge beam to keep it centered in the building.

If there is siding on the gables, it will need to be removed so that it can be recut to match the new roof slope.

With the information I have, this appears to be the most economical way to fix this problem.

Knowing that there was a problem was the first half of the battle.

The second half is the physical fixing part. Now it’s up to you to put your tool belt on and go to work or hire a qualified contractor. Either way you now have some written instructions for this project.

How to Solve A Difficult Building Problem?

With Out of The Box Solutions, That’s How

I have been presented with another building project puzzle. What do you know, it’s from another family member and reminiscent of last week’s post. Do you think they have it in for me…or maybe they just know that I’m good at finding solutions? In reality every construction project deals with these or similar questions.

My sister Ann owns and operates Prairie Paws Lodging, a pet retreat. Her service is in such demand that she has been considering expanding. Timber Creek Construction built her existing building three years ago and we’ve been discussing options for expansion over the last year. After some consideration we’ve decided to build separate private pet cottages rather than adding on to the existing building.

Prairie Paws Lodging

A few days ago, she called and asked if I could have one of these cottages built and ready in three weeks. After a gasp, I said, let me give it some thought. At this point we haven’t determined a floor plan, dimensions, materials, construction method, etc. (Why would I agree to even consider this when I’m already so busy? Because I love finding solutions and helping people with their dreams, that’s why.) It’s not like we weren’t already working on plans to enlarge the outdoor run and converting it to a dog playground. (More on this in a future post.)

Since we talked, this project and its questions have been bouncing around in my head.

The main questions that need answered?

  • What is the floor plan/design going to be?
  • What is the size/dimensions?
  • What building materials? (it needs to be water & dog urine resistant)
  • Price, what’s it going to cost?
  • How is it going to be heated and cooled (a requirement by the state)
  • Where will it be located, in relation to the rest of the facility? Will this have any bearing on the construction, size, etc.?

I called Ann and asked her to send me pictures, links to websites or any other ideas that she had. I got on line and began researching different building materials that would serve our needs. And the solution building process began.

What is the floor plan/design going to be?

  • We started with a couple of design ideas that she found on web sites. This gave me a good visual idea of what she wants. The first was Dog Kennels built by Lone Star Structures. The second was EZ-Fit Dog Kennel from Pinecraft. Both of these structures are nice looking and would work great in someone’s back yard for their own pet. Not so much in an application where different dogs will be using them, and a clean environment is important. Both have exposed wood framing and would not work well for regular cleaning. Beyond that the basic design is what we’re after.

What is the size/dimensions?

  • These two buildings varied in their dimensions. Ann and I discussed what she needed and what size would fill those needs best. She wants these cottages to be larger than the size of her existing pens. After some discussion we decided on an 8’ x 6’ enclosed portion and an 8’ x 8’ open covered area. This was determined by a combination of things; sized to meet minimum needs and be most functional, material dimensions (least amount of waste), price (bigger costs more), appearance (needs to be well constructed and look nice).

What building materials?

  • This is where things begin to get more difficult, because there are a lot of options. We know wood isn’t the best choice for wet conditions. What are the options other than wood? What can we do to protect wood if it is used? One thing we are looking at is a polypropylene slat flooring made by Double L Group. We are settling on a combination of products to keep construction from becoming complicated, meet the budget and provide the look we’re after. We’ll go into more detail in a later post.

Price, what’s it going to cost?

  • This is always a question, as it should be. The real question that should be asked, what’s it worth? Is this expense going to generate enough revenue to be justified? If it’s more than my budget, where can we reduce the cost? We’re early enough in the process that we don’t have this question fully answered yet, but we will keep thinking outside the box to get to the budget number.

How is it going to be heated and cooled?

  • HVAC is typically an expensive part of construction projects. In this case though, we are dealing with a small space, less than 400 cubic feet. They make some inexpensive single room units that look like a window AC and can be mounted in a window or through the wall. In this project the through the wall application would probably be the best option. It would let us mount it higher which would get it further from the dogs.

Where will the building be located, in relation to the rest of the facility? Will this have any bearing on the construction, size, etc.?

  • At this point we have a pretty good idea of where it will be located. For this to be determined we will need to consider how the new building will connect with the existing pens as well as new ones? What will the daily routine be when it’s being used? If more cottages are built in the future where would they go?

This is a lot to be considered for such a small project, but for the most part the considerations are the same regardless of the size. The fact that it’s small and what it’s going to be used for, does create some special considerations.

The one thing that we haven’t discussed yet, and maybe the most important, is if I have the time needed to do this project. This question can’t be answered by anyone but me. This question is one of the hardest questions that people in the construction business ever answer. Most of the people in this business that I know want to help people build their dreams. (This is a topic for another post.)

I will finish compiling figures, working on design specifics, determining the best options for material and if I have time to get the project completed on schedule over the next few days. If we’re going to be able to do this the questions need to be answered by the first of next week.

Keep watching for project updates in future posts.

An Out of The Box Project Will Need Out of The Box Solutions

Windows Will Help You See Those Solutions

The view through a window is much better than through a solid wall. If you’re in a box without windows, it’s hard to see out. Most of the time people are looking for solutions from inside the box. Even the most basic construction project needs a clear view of where things are headed. When it’s something “Undefined” it becomes more difficult.

An update on Hannah’s out of the box, grain bin home project.

As I expected when Hannah went to the bank yesterday, they didn’t just hand her a blank check, imagine that. The meeting went well though and they didn’t tell her no. As always, they gave her some papers to fill out for getting her credit approved. Because the house is going to be built on property that currently belongs to her parents there needs to be a survey done for separating off a parcel. The tricky part will be the appraisal. When doing appraisals, they will compare this project to other similar ones in the area. This is often an issue even for conventional construction projects. Guess what…there aren’t very many ‘out of the box, grain bin houses’ around.

Every problem has a solution, you just have to be willing to look for it.

As Hannah was telling her mom about the meeting with the bank, she said the banker said, “You’ll need some prices from a contractor.” …she handed them the eight-page detailed proposal. Next, they said, “We’ll need drawings.” …she gave them those as well. Most building project customers never get the level of documentation that Hannah had, even after meeting with the bank, let alone before. Another out of the box solution.

Another way windows help, is when they’re delivered. We received the windows and door that were purchased at the Pella contractor garage sale. They were unloaded in her parents’ garage until we are ready for them. We had to do some out of the box thinking to figure out what changes needed to be made to find the out of the box solutions.

Met with the bank and received windows. Two things accomplished this week that move the project forward. We are approaching the top of the mountain and it won’t be long before the momentum picks up. When that happens, we’ll be in for a fast ride down the other side.

Every nail driven, puts another board in the wall.  

Don’t be afraid to look outside of the box for solutions. If you need help with this, let us know in the comments below.