Posted by: JC Gatlin | March 10, 2012

Adding an extra day to the Construction Schedule… to do or not to do?

Your painter requested that you add an extra day to the schedule for interior painting. It’s a reasonable request. As he pointed out, his crew is working sun-up to sun-down, rushing to get the homes painted, and there’s dead time when they’re waiting for materials to dry. So what do you do?

Adding days to the construction schedule is the easy, quick answer. But in Lean Homebuilding, our goal is to methodically reduce our build time, not increase it. And once a day is inserted into the schedule, it will be very difficult to remove it in the future.

Before agreeing to any request (whether it’s for additional time, a price increase, a change in materials or construction practices) walk the Gemba. Preferably with the Building Partner. If you do, you’ll often find that the request asked for isn’t really the request being made.

Huh? Say that again.

The Painter doesn’t really want to spend an extra day on your jobsite. (No, really, he doesn’t…) He’s adding mileage and drive time, additional payroll and overhead, loading and unloading equipment, ladders and heavy paint cans. If he’s not losing money, he’s certainly reducing his margin. He wants to get into your house, finish his job and then move on to his next paying job.

So when he’s asking for an additional day, he’s actually telling you, “Hey, I don’t want to have to work sun-up to sun-down, rush to get the home painted and have dead time on the jobsite.

As a Lean Construction Professional, you should be hearing,  “I’m having job readiness issues and/or job completion issues.”

When you walk the Gemba, you’re going to get to the root cause of the schedule request. And by the root cause, I don’t necessarily just mean the Drywaller — but it could be. Or it could be another trade that’s not completing their job. Or it could be a lack of light in the closets and bathrooms. Or there could be a scheduling error and the interior paint activity is happening too soon in the schedule. In this particular case, customer upgrades in trim and chair railing add about an additional half day of hand brushing and caulking. So he wasn’t actually asking for the standard construction schedule to be changed – he was requesting additional time on houses with specific upgrades. There’s a big difference.

In fact, when you think about it, that’s what separates the Lean Construction Professional from the old school superintendent. The Superintendent looks at the problem from only the surface level, makes a snap, on-the-fly decision and moves on. The Lean Construction Professional analyzes the request, walks the Gemba, and asks the questions that get to the root cause.

© March 2012 Homebuilding Partners, Inc.   twitter-logo


  1. Right on Target! The “added day” becomes rooted in the schedule. Your statement of the easy answer is so true…it is easy to take the easy road in today’s market place where everyone is wearing so many hats; but we have to work lean everyday to protect the future. Thanks for the read on such an important topic.

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