10 Most Common Contractor Mistakes


One of the last things any contractor wants to happen during the final stage of a build is to discover the project has gone over budget or that deadlines won’t be met. And the very last thing they want is for any of their workers to be injured on a job site. But contractors are people, too. They make mistakes. Knowing which pitfalls are the most pervasive is the first step in avoiding them. Let’s look at a few common mistakes — as well as their easy fixes — to ensure you’re reducing accidents, keeping projects on budget, and hitting deadlines with pinpoint accuracy.

1. Not scheduling regular safety trainings

Safety is and should always be your number one priority on the job site. Without proper measures in place, you risk putting your workers in danger. Safety trainings shouldn’t be a one-time event, either. Regulations are always changing — not to mention your workforce, too — which means you should be scheduling regular trainings to ensure proper safety is always at the top of everyone’s mind.

2. Neglecting basic safety measures

Staying up to date on basic safety protocols and requirements should inform agendas for those regularly scheduled trainings. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) keeps a current list of recommendations, requirements, and tips covering fall prevention, proper scaffold use, ladder safety, and more. Consider these required, not recommended reading. At best, you could be fined for failing to comply. At worst, you could be putting your workers in life-threatening situations.

3. Not keeping crews hydrated

The body’s greatest tool for overcoming heat is sweating. But in order to produce enough sweat to cool our bodies, we need to stay properly hydrated. That doesn’t mean sipping soft drinks, juice, or alcohol, either. Water is your crew’s best friend. Ensure your team is taking frequent breaks and sipping small amounts of water often. A hydrated crew is a happy, healthy, and productive crew.

4. Avoiding scheduling issues

The schedule sets the tone for your entire job. If one cog in the wheel stops working, the entire thing could come to a grinding halt. Common issues include incomplete schedules, miscommunications about obtaining critical materials, and failure to consider physical and weather constraints. Collaborative and integrated project management software with scheduling management capabilities solves many of these issues; so does a renewed commitment to detail.

5. Relying on an ineffective accounting system

Long gone are the days of abacuses and spreadsheets when it comes to taking account of your finances — or at least they should be. Savvy contractors know accounting software for construction projects helps lower risk and enhance reporting, all while boosting the bottom line.

6. Hiring the wrong people

Employee turnover is unavoidable. Hiring the wrong people is not. To avoid high turnover rates, vet candidates thoroughly and choose those with a wide skillset. Surround yourself with people you can trust. This will free you up to make the big decisions.

7. Growing too fast and taking on jobs that are too big

All it takes is a taste of success to want another bite at the apple. Be cautious, however, as getting too big for you britches is an easy yet costly mistake to make. Stay the course, grow smart, and make sure you’re allocating time and expenses properly to avoid neglecting other areas of the business.

8. Overestimating or underestimating costs

Doing your due diligence is a big part of a successful build. You may not even be able to gauge a project’s profitability until it’s completed. That requires some legwork on your part. One of the most difficult costs to estimate is labor. Looking at costs per square foot and accounting for as much detailed labor information as possible can help you sidestep a budgeting fiasco.

9. Failing to expect the unexpected

They say the best laid plans of mice and men (and contractors) often go awry. Expecting smooth sailing at every turn is folly. Good contractors know how to account for variables like weather, personnel changes, budgeting issues, and the like. Understanding how to respond when something doesn’t go as planned means having not only a plan B, but a plan C, D, E, and F.

10. Relying on manual processes

Modern technologies promise to make every facet of our lives easier. Manual processes, time-intensive spreadsheets, and legacy technology not only slow down the construction process — they prevent you from keeping up with your competition.
We invite you to connect with us and other industry professionals to stay up to date on new technologies and capabilities. Explore our suite of construction project management software and solutions to learn which products can help keep your build safe, on time, and on budget.