Class 101: Introduction to Construction Schedules

April 14, 2021 0 Comments

A construction schedule outlines the steps needed to complete a project. The steps are broken down into individual components called activitiesThese activities have relationships between each other that explain the sequence of work within a project. The schedule can define which group (subcontractor, general contractor, owner, etc.) is responsible for each activity and, in some cases, the associated finances and resources.

Example of a Construction Schedule:

The example above shows a typical construction schedule for a high-end mixed-used skyscraper. Consider all the moving components required to construct a complex project such as this one. Without having a detailed, organized and overall clear plan of how to successfully complete the project on-time and on-budget, the contractor would meander through an inefficient sequence of constructing the project. However, developing a schedule with a detailed outline allows for an efficient construction process. 

What are some other reasons to have a construction schedule?

The successful completion of a project is often tied to the quality of its schedule. A schedule is created before construction begins to create an initial plan for completing the project in accordance with contractual requirements. When updated frequently, schedules can track intermediary progress and can identify areas or trades falling behind schedule. Knowing how the project is progressing allows the project team to accurately update plans. Additionally, changes to the design of the project are often made after construction begins. If change orders are issued by the owner, adding the new work to the schedule will show how the changes impact the overall project duration.

Construction schedules can also help resolve current issues, mitigate future issues, and improve estimates and efficiency on future projects. They can help with delay conflict resolution by providing a historical record of the project’s timeline.

According to “Construction Delay Claims” by Barry Bramble and Michael Callahan, “schedules are an important part of proving or refuting delay and other impact claims because they provide a detailed medium for comparing and measuring time and intent. The use of a detailed method to present a time claim is important to carry the claimant's burden of persuasion to establish its entitlement to both the delay and whatever additional costs a delay may have caused. Schedules also substitute a disciplined analysis that can be reviewed and challenged for the judgments of the certifier or claimant. Schedules are increasingly used to prove a delay in the United States and other countries.”1

Construction Schedule Summary:

    1. Before a project begins, schedules create an initial plan for completing the project in                 accordance with contractual requirements.

    2. During a project, schedule updates track intermediary progress and can identify areas                or trades falling behind schedule.

    3. On projects with delay claims, schedules are used prove or refute delay and other                        impact.

Key Terms:

  1. Activityindividual component or step of a construction schedule


1. Bramble, Barry B., and Callahan, Michael T. Construction Delay Claims. Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory U.S., 2017.