Project Management

4 tips for mapping out a custom build timeline

Schedule out your custom build timeline from start to finish with these four helpful tips.

Tip for mapping out a timeline

Have you heard customers asking, “How long will it take to build my house?”

You’re not alone. It’s one of the most common questions that custom home builders receive before and during the construction process. We have an answer: The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the average home building timeline is eight months from authorization to finish.

There’s a lot that goes on during that time. Weather delays. Supply shortages. Multiple construction phases. Subcontractors galore. It’s easy to see why mapping out your schedule requires flexibility with so many moving parts.

Ultimately, setting an accurate timeline keeps all subs and builders involved, informed and empowered to finish the job ahead of deadline. Follow these four tips to take the stress out of creating a successful construction timeline.

1. Set up a custom build template

Making a template in Buildertrend creates extra work for you upfront but saves you more time in the long run. The first time you set a timeline, you’ll likely have to put schedule items in manually. This may seem daunting, but this video on how to set up a project schedule breaks it down.

Once your job is set up in Buildertrend, use the Schedule feature under the Project Management pull down. Start adding schedule items one by one by filling in the titles and start and end dates. Consider linking schedule items and assigning them to phases to help stay organized, which we’ll go over in the next couple tips.

After creating an entire new home construction timeline, you can save it as a template to jump-start future jobs.

2. Link your schedule items

The hard truth: Factors like weather or labor and supply shortages will cause changes to your home building schedule. Make it easy on yourself by using the critical path method for construction project management. With this method, you estimate how long the job will take to complete and then create your timeline by stringing together dependent tasks from start to finish.

Since each schedule item can depend on a previous task, it helps keep projects on track and makes it effortless to adjust dates. Let’s say framing took longer than you estimated or your flooring supply is delayed – no sweat! You can move the end date, prompting a domino effect where all dependent tasks will automatically shift accordingly. For example: If the date is pushed out a week, the rest of the project moves out a week as well. If those links weren’t built, the framing task would move but nothing else would.

How can you do this in Buildertrend? Link schedule items to create dependency relationships between them. Linked items depend upon one another with one of two options: finish-to-start and start-to-start. A finish-to-start task requires the previous task to be done before the next one starts. On the other hand, a start-to-start signals that as soon as a task begins, another one can begin at the same time.

Trust us. Create these linked schedule items. You’ll be thanking yourself later when you don’t have to go through and adjust each individual task on your ever-changing custom build timeline.

3. Group items into phases

Building a home doesn’t happen all at once. It often follows phases that each focus on different areas of the process. That’s why Buildertrend built in a feature where users can categorize tasks this way. When creating an individual schedule item, you can assign it to a phase and color code it, too.

Here are some phases that apply to custom home builders:

  • Excavation and foundation
  • House framing and roof install
  • Mechanical, electrical and plumbing
  • Insulation and drywall
  • Paint, flooring and other interior finishes
  • Exterior and landscaping
  • Clean up

Why is using phases helpful? Not only does it make it easy to view and filter tasks in the Gantt chart, but it also allows you to organize the project in a linear fashion. When adding phases in the schedule setup, you can choose the display order and color associated with them.

4. Communicate with subs and homeowners

After initial setup, the Schedule tool should continue to be updated frequently. Share your schedule with your clients to avoid questions about the progress on their custom build and with your subs to keep them in the know, too. Beyond keeping the timeline up to date, you can also associate To-Do’s, add RFIs and comment directly on schedule items.

Are you a home builder juggling custom construction projects?

Get your custom build timeline up and running in no time with the help of Buildertrend’s leading construction management software. Schedule a demo today to learn more.

About The Author

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Lizzie Long Lizzie Long is a Content Specialist at Buildertrend.

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