If we had to name the Irish building industry’s biggest problem, it is this: delays.
The industry has plenty of problems, but delays are among the biggest frustrations for homeowners waiting on their new builds and renovations. Delays mean another winter cramped in your in-laws’ house. Delays mean mounting costs as your budget is stretched thin. Your builder seemed so trustworthy when you first met, but your heart sinks as they break one promise after another. What’s a measurable indicator of a broken promise?
When we first started, we realised very early that tracking our deadlines would help us measure whether we were keeping our promises. We wanted to change the industry, and become Cork’s #1 design and build team. That took a lot of work and a lot of time. We had to improve our processes continually. We needed to ensure that we could provide outstanding service to our clients and always deliver on time and on budget.
It’s about attitude
Delays have many causes. But a lot of it has to do with attitude. Too many Irish builders don’t take enough pride in their work. Many builders adopt the typical attitude of their peers, which borders on contempt for you, the client. It’s “acceptable” amongst builders to leave their clients high and dry for many months past the promised deadline. And it’s common for builders to disappear for weeks to start on another project. They do it, knowing it’ll mean they run late on your renovation, And they know they’ll probably break their promises with the other client, too. If it were a relationship, we’d call it cheating.
It’s about process
We’ve learned that delays are also a symptom of dysfunctional businesses and dysfunctional teams. Dysfunctional teams lead to bad practices and inefficient processes. Almost all build teams in Ireland work within a traditional model. They don’t look to improve their process. They do what has always been done. They build the same brick-and-mortar structures that have hardly changed in generations. They do not integrate other core parts of the build into their team. And so there are no standardised procedures between the architect, the builders, the plumbers and electricians, the insulators and plasterers and window fitters.
Mismanagement causes miscommunication. And miscommunication causes delays.
Picture this. You’ve planned for a guest bathroom. It was designed meticulously to allow enough space for storage as well as a shower. The architect indicated exactly where the drainage should be placed- as even a few inches off would mean the layout wasn’t possible. The plumber followed the plan. But later, while another contractor came in to quote for work, they accidentally moved the pipework. Shortly after, someone came in to pour cement. Now, that badly placed drainage system is stuck in place. Just one mistake means you either forego your original plans for the bathroom and settle for a room with an awkward layout, no shower and a poorly placed toilet…or waste days undoing the error.
Whenever there’s a problem, we hold it in our minds that there may be a better way. That way, if things go wrong as a result of inefficient processes, we are very unlikely to blame someone. Instead, we examine our process. What did we collectively miss? What measures can we put in place to account for human error? It makes for better teamwork. It improves our efficiency. And by replacing blaming with training, we ensure our future projects meet deadlines.
We’re always improving
Consistently delivering on dream home designs means consistently working on our process. Every Friday, the entire team knows we will hand over a new build to one of our clients. In the weeks preceding, the whole team works together. At each stage of the project, we are checking to see if we’re on track. If we found a potential issue in our process, we work to fix it. We ensure that everything looks incredible – and as planned.
We’ve been doing this now for years. It’s always a big day. It’s always exciting. And we have always been on time.