The top 5 time-wasters that are cutting into your profit

The top 5 time-wasters that are cutting into your profit

The term “time-waster” may sound unassuming, but according to a recent report from PlanGrid and FMI Corp, the average cost of wasted time in construction is a whopping $177 billion each year in the U.S. alone. The report specifically looked at time spent on rework, conflict resolution, and searching for project data—a list of three time-wasters that cost an average of 14 hours per person each week. 

While construction is known for its complexity and the high level of coordination required to take a project from concept to completion, inefficiencies can creep into even the best-laid plans, eroding project profits and extending timelines. 

But here’s the good news: the biggest time-wasters in construction are avoidable with improved communication and data management. In this post, we’ll give you the top five offenders on the construction industry’s list of time-wasters so you can sidestep them to improve efficiency, boost profits, and finish projects on schedule.

#1: Rework—the sinking feeling of déjà vu

We’ve all had the feeling of déjà vu, where we could swear that we’ve had an experience before. For site and civil contractors, that’s not just a feeling—it’s called rework. It’s the most notorious time-waster in construction and can make up anywhere from nine to 20% of a project’s total cost. 

In an industry known for tight margins, those kinds of numbers can run an otherwise profitable business into the ground. Rework is a serious profit-eater, requiring additional labor and materials and increasing the likelihood of a dispute. (More on disputes later.)

The impact of rework also extends far beyond the bottom line. Staying on deadline is just as important as staying on budget, and rework can negatively impact productivity by up to 300%, making deadlines nearly impossible to hit. Research shows that 30% of all work completed by contractors ends up being redone—a massive productivity hit. 

The Time-Saving Solution:

Late change orders and other unpredictable issues will always be a part of the job, but you can prevent the bulk of your rework with a 3D map that’s easy to interpret, measure, and share. When every stakeholder on a project can see what they’re signing off on, it’s much easier to ensure that the work you’re completing matches the work that’s expected. Plus, when you increase your number of surveys, you’re more able to be proactive with decision-making—rather than having to react and rework.

Cut flow workflow in Propeller

#2: Searching for information—the great treasure hunt

Data may be king, but even the best information available to project teams is only as good as their ability to find it. With project details scattered across various platforms and devices, it’s easy to lose big chunks of time just finding the latest, most accurate information. This kind of inefficiency hampers decision-making and slows progress, leading to higher costs and project delays. 

On average, workers spend five hours a week hunting for project data like design revisions, budget sheets, and other details they need to proceed with their work. The cost of this unnecessary data retrieval adds up; that’s nearly a full day of wasted time each week. Multiply that cost by 52 weeks per year and the number of people on your team, and the overall figures are staggering.

The Time-Saving Solution:

Propeller’s platform turns your interactive 3D maps into a single source of truth where all of your worksite data can be accessed by anyone who needs it, at any time. Make your critical project data easy to find by keeping it all in one place. With Propeller, even non-survey media like photos can be easily attached to specific locations on your map.

Import options in Propeller

#3: Resolving disputes—the blame game

There’s no shortage of finger-pointing in an industry with endless moving parts and multiple stakeholders working on a single project. Disputes can arise from simple miscommunication, lack of contract clarity, or mismatched data. 

The lack of a unified platform for data-sharing exacerbates these issues, leading to time-consuming and costly debates about who’s to blame. According to the annual Global Construction Disputes Report released by Arcadis in 2023, the average value of disputes in North America increased by 42% and remains at historically high levels compared to pre-COVID years. 

The Time-Saving Solution:

Implementing a transparent and sharable data system can help mitigate disputes, saving both time and money. Propeller is your site, on record, helping you prevent disputes before they start and resolve them quickly if they do.

#4: Safety concerns—the risky business

Safety is paramount in construction, and managing risk is a time-consuming endeavor. Traditional methods of survey data collection and site inspection involve high-risk activities like traversing dangerous terrain on foot or navigating around heavy equipment. 

Rework can also create safety issues by restarting dangerous tasks that need to be completed all over again, increasing the risk of injury as crews hurry to finish the project on time. If there’s one thing worse than climbing an unstable stockpile to measure it or dodging heavy equipment on a busy worksite, it’s doing those things all over again because the work wasn’t done correctly the first time.

The Time-Saving Solution:

Introducing technologies like drones for survey data capture not only reduces risk but also speeds up the data collection process, saving time and enhancing on-site safety standards. Drones help keep in-house teams and clients safe by enabling remote site surveys and reviews, letting stakeholders “walk” a site without ever leaving their office.

Hazard shown in media

#5: Inefficient resource allocation—the juggling act

Paying on-site crews is expensive, and it’s even more costly if they show up to find that they can’t do their work because a previous team hasn’t finished yet, or they don’t have the materials or equipment needed for the job.

The inefficient allocation of resources such as machinery, materials, and labor is the last time-waster on our list, but it’s far from the least. Idle equipment, underutilized labor, and material shortages or surpluses can all contribute to project delays and inflated costs. 

The Time-Saving Solution:

Implementing smart systems to help align resource allocation with up-to-date project schedules helps drastically reduce inefficiency. From monitoring machine utilization, like load counts and cycle times, to keeping on top of progress, tools like DirtMate and Propeller give you a bird’s-eye view of everything that’s happening on-site.

Ready to improve your productivity and your profit? Request a demo to learn how Propeller can save you time while maintaining accuracy.


We’re happy to show you how Propeller can power your worksite, and boost productivity. Simply request a demo now.

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