7 Things you need to know about Communications in Construction 


July 2018

Communication in Construction: A key factor in successful projects

Have you ever had a project delayed from a miscommunication? Communication in construction projects is critical to the overall successful completion of a development or addition. Often on this blog site, we’ll talk about the characteristics of a successful construction project. Previous posts have discussed the importance of a well-defined scope statement, proactive budgeting, and proper scheduling. While all of these attributes are undeniably important, they would not be possible without strong communication.

How to Delay a Project: Common Communication Problems in Construction Projects

Communication is integral to meeting deadlines, solving problems and building trust, confidence and rapport. Decisions should be made collectively and the knowledge and opinions of others on a team should be sought after and valued. In addition to that, communicating effectively and building relationships will help foster honesty and promote innovation. Unfortunately, things don’t always go so well in this area. There are a host of common communication problems in construction projects that can derail progress and stall projects, from communication on the job site, to issues with documentation and knowledge, as well as communication gaps between different levels of leadership.

Direct Steel has seen through many successful projects and have learned a few things along the way. Effective communication in construction is the number one predictor of success on a project. Read about our top tips for effective communication and mistakes to avoid:


communications in construction - a team communicates a project plan

Communication Problems in construction projects: Miscommunications between people

Construction communication problems can occur due to preventable mistakes in interpersonal communications. Good communication requires clear, concise communication between people, yet it is not uncommon for people to leave out important details when utilizing technology such as phone messages or email. Site managers need to make sure workers have fully heard and understand their instruction, for instance, miscommunicating how a safety zone needs to be set up can cause a potential worksite injury and delays.

Slang, short spoken communication, and mumbled directions can cause delays when work gets done incorrectly because of a lack of clear instruction.
A miscommunication may occur on paper as well, including not clearly ordered quantities of supplies for a project, or poorly communicated field measurements.
Like documents, technology can introduce a new opportunity for missed information and construction communication problems: a hasty voicemail without a callback number, or a name left, a quickly typed email on a phone, or even a long, drawn-out message can cause communication problems.

Communication problems between people are easily preventable, as long as standards for how instructions are delivered and what level of detail they need to provide are universally understood. Re-iterating these standards at kick-off meetings can reinforce good communication and prevent problems.


Communication problems in Construction: Knowledge gaps and availability of information 

Many hands are involved in a construction project, with different levels of experience and knowledge of the types of work being done. False presumptions about the knowledge of others. From proper installation methods, to safety requirements or changes in code requirements, assumptions about what a person may know based on their area of expertise can lead to costly mistakes. Project managers, and on-site supervisors aware of the particular mistakes that can be made should take the effort to meet and communicate with the team to ensure everyone is aware and there is no knowledge gap. Design firms should strive to provide the highest level of detail possible in their plans and project documentations, as well as any supporting documentation. Construction managers should assure their on-site team is fully versed in requirements for the project to be successful. 

Communication in Construction: Documentation

Communication problems in construction projects don’t just happened when people attempt to communicate directly, they also happen through mistakes and missed information in drawings, documents, and orders. Communication problems can arise when not everyone involved in the project has the latest drawing update, or do not understand the conventions used in the drawing and make erroneous assumptions. Levels of detail thought to be unimportant to the completion of a project can be missing, that would otherwise prevent a mistake. A field measurement could be conveyed as “East of Main Rd.” without specifying, for instance if the measurement was from centerline, the curb, or the property line. This may be an extreme example but highlights one of many opportunities to miss a level of detail needed to quickly and accurately complete work.

 Communication in Construction: Roles and Responsibilities

Sometimes, it is unclear who is responsible for a certain activity in the field. Communication problems can arise in construction projects when roles and responsibilities are not clearly defined. Although roles may be delegated to different contractors, managers, and designers at the outset of a project, problems may arise on the job and it may be unclear who should deal with them, or how to deal with them. Simple issues like who should accept and check deliveries of materials, to higher level problems such as who is in charge of certain subcontractors, or who is the point of contact between the field and designers may seem to be logically in place at the outset of the project but come apart in a field situation. Establishing these responsibilities and roles in advance and reinforcing them throughout a project is key to preventing miscommunications and misdirection that could cause project delays.


Contact Direct Steel

Need help assessing your construction communications? 

Have you thoroughly worked through the communications plan for your upcoming project? Direct Steel has managed many metal building construction projects, and knows how to effectively see through the completion of a development on time, on budget and prevent common communication problems from delaying a project. Have questions about our process? Send us a message about your project or communications issues. We would love to hear about your next project and concerns you may have.

Contact Direct Steel

Direct Steel has managed many metal building construction projects, and knows how to effectively see through the completion of a development on time, on budget and prevent common communication problems from delaying a project.


Methods of communication in construction

How can a project design ensure that communication problems don’t delay projects? Establishing clear methods of communication in construction projects can ensure that everyone is on the same page and has a means to find information, dispute documented information and be able to effectively communicate with people involved at different levels in the project – from contractors, subcontractors, managers and the design team, having a method in place to seek or distribute information is critical.

Methods of communication in construction: Project Meetings and Tracking

Every project should plan to have meetings to ensure that effective communication happens, and that problems and concerns have an outlet as well as to ensure projects are operating on schedule. Project kick-off meetings can ensure everyone has a chance to meet people they may need to know of and have contact information for in a project. Monthly progress and update meetings can ensure problems have an outlet for communications if they arise.

Methods of Communication in Construction: Upwards Communication

-Establishing a method of communication between subcontractors, field operatives, site offices and design offices is essential to make sure that information and questions can be sent from the project site to the project management teams and design teams. It is also essential to be able to ask questions and receive information about drawings from those who put them together when questions or problems arise. Creating a clear chain of communication will help to make sure that the project can continue without the delay of missing information or without acting based on assumptions.

Methods of Communication in Construction: Downwards Communication

Conversely, procedural top-down methods of communication in construction need to be established as well. If something changes from the external environment outside of the project, such as problems with suppliers, code or ordinance changes or permit issues, among other externalities that may affect the development, these need to be conveyed to the subcontractors and construction management team in an efficient manner. Establishing how information is disseminated in advance can save a project from unexpected delays.

Construction Communication Plan

Having a construction communication plan is essential to preventing project issues due to communication problems. A construction communication plan should establish how different members of the team communicate, how project meetings are scheduled, what they cover and how they can be documented. It should detail roles and responsibilities for different demands of a project and how different team members communicate questions and issues with each other.


Contact Direct Steel LLC for questions about your next project

Contact Us to Learn More

Have you thoroughly worked through the communications plan for your upcoming project? Direct Steel has managed many metal building construction projects, and knows how to effectively see through the completion of a development on time, on budget and prevent common communication problems from delaying a project. Have questions about our process? Send us a message about your project or communications issues. We would love to hear about your next project and concerns you may have.

Contact Direct Steel

Give us a Call at (815) 444-8844. 

Direct Steel has managed many metal building construction projects, and knows how to effectively see through the completion of a development on time, on budget and prevent common communication problems from delaying a project.