Future Proofing: The No. 1 Way to Avoid Construction Project Problems

By Marilee Bodden


Problems in construction projects can come from anywhere at any time. 


Inadequate planning, poor communication, and failing to identify where future red flags may arise are among the top reasons why construction projects experience issues — and as an owner, you need to juggle all of that while also ensuring your projects are delivered on time and on budget.


It can seem incredibly daunting to manage the day to day of your project while also trying to factor in a forecast – but if you take the time to future proof your construction projects, you’ll find you’re well on your way to mitigating potential risk and setting yourself up for a successful build.


Future Proofing: What is It and Why Does It Matter?

Future proofing is essentially just the process of anticipating future events and developing methods of adaptation. This process focuses heavily on mitigating negative effects while enhancing positive ones.


For construction specifically, it involves taking flexibility, resources, technology, climate, legislation, and social attitudes into account. Any one of these can seriously affect your project in terms of cost and delays – especially if you’re part of a publicly funded institution, as you must reflect the values of your constituents when making decisions.


What Happens If I Don’t Future Proof?

Let’s broaden the scope a bit so we can see just how important future proofing really is. Take cable TV, for example. Nowadays, more and more people are participating in “cord-cutting”: swapping out their expensive cable packages for streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.


According to the Pew Research Center, the amount of Americans who use cable TV has decreased by 20 percent since 2015 alone. DirectTV, AT&T’s U-verse, and Comcast have reported millions of lost subscribers in the past few years. This trend doesn’t show signs of stopping, either – it’s been estimated that by 2024, over one-third of all US households will have canceled cable. 


Why, you ask? Consumers are growing tired of price increases occurring year after year, instead opting for the cheaper options these online subscription services provide. Plus, with streaming services, you can watch whatever you want wherever you want. Some individual networks have caught on to this and have started offering online options – like HBO’s creation of HBO Max, for example.


But if cable companies continue to fail to listen to their communities, fine tune their services, and pay close attention to what their consumers are really looking for today and for the days to come  – i.e., future proofing – they will continue to experience hefty losses and might even go out of business for good.


Future Proofing Through a Construction Lens

While future proofing depends heavily on where you’re located, there are some common trends that have recently arisen that will affect everyone everywhere. Take the COVID-19 pandemic, for example. Buildings absolutely must have up-to-date and effective HVAC and air filtration systems, otherwise you run the risk of becoming a hotspot for the virus. In addition, the pandemic has led to worldwide supply chain issues, making it increasingly difficult to obtain the resources we need to see our projects come to life.


Or consider the recent changes in climate, perhaps. Nowadays, we’re seeing more intense storms, an increase in hurricanes and tornadoes, rising water levels, and so much more. Ensuring your buildings are able to withstand all that nature has to throw at them is an absolute must. If you fail to future proof where climate is concerned, you might not have a fully constructed building for long.


These, of course, are only a few examples, as construction problems can come from anywhere at any time. But with future proofing at your back, you’ll be more prepared to face them head on, figure out how to mitigate their effects, and deliver your projects on time and on budget. 


Three Ways to Future Proof Your Next Construction Project


No. 1: Conduct Risk Assessments

A common way to future proof your construction projects is by conducting risk assessments. This involves identifying hazards, analyzing and evaluating the risk, and doing what you can to control its effects. Risk assessments will help inform you about which processes and systems you need to have within your workflow, understand where in your budget you need to pay the most attention, and show you how to get the best accountable collaboration.


No. 2: Communicate Effectively

You also need to ensure that you properly communicate your findings to all the relevant stakeholders. If you don’t, who knows what kinds of problems will arise.

Remember: One of the main reasons for construction project problems is poor communication. Research shows that almost 50% of all rework is caused by miscommunication or lost data.


No. 3: Use Construction Project Management Software

Without strong processes and systems in place, future proofing simply just won’t work. In order to fine tune your workflow, keep tabs on all the moving parts and peoples, set up strong channels of communication, and keep everything running smoothly, you’ll want to strongly consider purchasing construction project management software.


Without real visibility into every aspect of your project, you’re flying blind. That means you’re also risking unexpected change orders, unanticipated cost overruns, and potentially disastrous schedule delays. But with the right tools – the right software – you’ll be able to forecast future issues because you’re given a birds-eye view into every aspect of your project. Ultimately, this will decrease cost in terms of time and budgetary overruns. 


There’s no denying that problems will arise. Before they do, be sure to get your team together and do some future proofing so you’ll be prepared to face them head on.


Moving Forward

As an owner, you need to ensure your projects are delivered on time and on budget. Without proper preparation and future proofing, you can run into any number of potential problems.


While there’s no way to completely eliminate risk, it’s important to do everything you can to mitigate it. With Owner Insite’s construction project management software, you’ll retain a solid grasp on every piece of your project, allowing you to make the most informed decisions when problems arise. You’ll see issues coming from miles away, easily inform all your constituents, and set yourself up to overcome any obstacle – and do so all in four clicks or less.


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