The Paradise Build

Construction Management has always been a difficult task. In most cases there are so many people, services and materials to manage that to do it manually simply no-longer works. The fundamental issue is often the assurances that aspects of a construction come together in the right order. For example, you don’t want your painters coming if your plasterers haven’t finished. Detailed coordination saves time and cost.

Where this sort of management really comes into its own is when something is being built in a remote location. I worked as a project manager on a job in the Pacific. Almost all materials had to come from New Zealand and with a limited number of trades skilled workers on the Island, we had to fly workers in and out as needed. 

Other complexities where that having to ship materials in, meant time became a factor. There was the load time, time at sea and of course customs to deal with at the other end, then getting a container off the wharf and on-site. The only way to get around the cost of time delays was to have a lot of the work pre-build before shipping.

For example, we could employ carpenters in New Zealand to pre-assemble roof frames and wall panels, ship them up to the island and on arrive on site we would have flown the duplex builders Melbourne up to be ready to do the final assembly. Then they would be flown back as we brought the next trade skill up.

Then there was the issue, as is almost always the case with a construction project, you run out of something while on the job or the wrong type of material is supplied. Given we couldn’t go down the road to our wholesaler and get what we wanted, we had to run our own supply store. Inventory such as hardware like bolt and nails had to be carefully monitored. The same applied to power tools. If one broke down, there was no service or replacement, so we had to have back-up tools on hand at all times.

Now, as complex as all of this seems one might have thought it would be a lot more expensive. Well, that wasn’t the case at all. The whole project came in on time and on budget and wasn’t any more expensive had we had to manage the same project back in New Zealand. In fact, seldom did a project come in on time and on budget. It is my view that it was the greater level of planning that had to be done, along with more intense management of the project that made it turn out to be so efficient.

Some of the practices we employed and lessons we learnt from that job have now been employed on other projects we work on. As a consequence those projects are more cost and time efficient.

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