How I built that: The hell and heaven of housebuilders

Written by LetsBuild

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Housebuilding projects are tough. The distance between hell and heaven in a project like that can be extremely short.
This statement comes as no surprise to anyone who has some experience in the building sector. Housebuilders have to take into account a plethora of parameters in order to successfully design, develop and eventually complete a home building project.

In a nutshell, everything depends on the quality of collaboration and communication between the different teams. Fast and efficient communication lies at the heart of this effort and can pave the way to a more open and integration-friendly future for home providers.

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It goes without saying that digital tools can play a substantial part in both simplifying and optimising the whole building process.

Nevertheless, in order to choose the right strategic solution for your project it’s imperative to have a good understanding of the critical problems that home builders normally encounter during this journey.

That being said, we’ll be sharing detailed takeaways and insights in the post (keep reading!) but first, let’s take a look at the biggest frustrations and obstacles that housebuilders should constantly overcome.

The biggest housebuilder frustrations

As a building project proceeds, there are numerous problems that housebuilders need to solve. The most vital of them could be summarised in the following points:

Customer complaints and disputes

Having someone expressing their dissatisfaction on the services that you offer is never pleasant. Especially in construction, keeping your customers happy is even more important due to the amount of money that has been invested in a project.
A dissatisfied customer can be a real pain for housebuilders in many ways. Word of mouth is surely one of them. Unsatisfied customers can let their network know about the inefficiencies in your building plan and they can cost you many significant projects in the future.

Many times words travel faster than actions and in that sense repairing your damaged reputation as a housebuilder can be harder than you might think.

Project disputes can be another serious and very costly pain point for housebuilders. During the completion of a building project, there are always disagreements between the various stakeholders.

Read more here: 10 serious pains housebuilding software can solve

However, it is important to learn how to tackle these conflicts before they start turning into something big and dangerous for your project.

A good digital solution can help housebuilders with being better protected against such incidents thanks to the detailed archive that it could provide. Like that, the conflicted sides can rely on an objective source of truth in order to come up with a fair solution.

Lack of consistency between the houses built

One of the biggest nightmares for housebuilders (and almost everyone in the construction sector) is lack of consistency between the different projects they are working on. The reason behind this problem is the absence of data-driven project scheduling.

As a result, housebuilding cost remains high and project teams have to spend a lot of time and resources in redesigning and executing every project.

home builder software
The absence of a tested action plan signifies that housebuilders can’t create a standardised building process. Therefore, they end up having to start from scratch every time they get a new project going.

Poor performance by the project team

Construction is a sector that struggles a lot when it comes to wrench time and reworks. According to McKinsey & Company, the building sector is scoring extremely low (30%) in both categories.

The lack of a standardised project plan can have serious repercussions on the quality of the work done on site, as well. Simply put, it’s difficult to train your workers properly and consistently if the tasks and practices followed change from project to project.

It is no surprise, then, that poor team performance both on field and office is one of the biggest frustrations for housebuilders.

Keeping track of everything

A typical manager has approximately 10 to 20 houses to work on at the same time. And that’s not all, as these houses can be geographically spread out. That being said, it can be hard for them to stay on top of their progress at all times.
This practical restraint in terms of project monitoring can affect both the development and the outcome of your work.

Source: US Embassy Guyana via

To overcome this problem, there are different practices that someone can follow. The investment in digital tools and technologies is surely one of them. It can allow you stay on top of the numerous projects without having to be physically present. Furthermore, it can simplify the resource management process and add higher accuracy to your plan.

Last but definitely not least, finding a way to optimise resource management and project monitoring can lead to tremendous financial and time benefits for your projects.

Too many tools to manage

As we already saw, staying on top of everything is really difficult. To make matters worse, in almost every home building project the team has to use multiple tools in order to ensure that the different tasks proceed according to the agreed plan.
That can be a true nightmare for housebuilders. There are simply too many tools for the project team to manage. There are many cases where the tool management process escalates to a point where it becomes almost impossible to monitor every bit of information.

house building cost
Source: Alexandre Prevot via

And this is how you can end up with shattered documents and processes which sooner or later lead to broken communication and ineffective collaboration.

With that in mind, it’s always a good idea to use solutions that together could compose a solid data ecosystem which can help you both in your present and future projects.

The true hell for housebuilders

Now that we have taken a good look at the main frustrations and hurdles that housebuilders have to overcome on a continuous basis, it is time to focus on the consequences.

In short, here are some of the biggest fears that housebuilders are currently battling against:

Not being able to sell their houses

We agree that money isn’t everything but in a $10tr. industry with low efficiency and high rework rates, money is an essential parameter.

That’s why, being able to sell the houses that you created is one of the biggest bets that home providers take. The market is under extreme pressure and people appear to have bigger and bigger difficulties to buy a house.

There are many reasons behind this phenomenon but the increased prices in combination with the overpopulation in big cities are probably some of the most significant. At the same time, the housebuilding cost remains high and home builders often find themselves trapped in a circle of project inefficiency and socio-economic problems.

Building errors

Building snags have also their own place in housebuilders’ hell. We already noticed above that construction is tormented by rework which can reach up to 30% for just one project.

It is evident, then, why housebuilders are so scared of it. It is time-consuming and most of the times is extremely expensive. On top of that, wrench time can be a significant blow against the productivity of the project and it can ruin the planning for the upcoming project phases.

house building cost
Source: Per Gosche via

Additionally, building errors lead to costly disputes and conflicts, as it can be very difficult to place the blame on a particular party. That being said, it come as no surprise that getting sued is one of the strongest fears for house builders.

New government regulations

Depending on where a housebuilder operates around the globe, this fear can be bigger or smaller. But it still exists. New regulations to safety and project administration can stall the development of a project and create additional bottlenecks for housebuilders. Of course, not all regulations are bad.

A great example is the BIM level 2 mandate in the UK. Despite the fact that its implementation hasn’t been fully successful,  it’s a brave step toward the digitisation of the construction industry.

In any case, government and housebuilders should always work closely together in order to establish regulations and strategic plans which can boost productivity and contribute to the modernisation of the building sector.

New competition

New competitors can always make everybody feel a bit unrest. Housebuilders are no exception. The rising of the Asian market has caused strong headaches to many housebuilders both in Europe and the US.
Asian have done some admirable steps forward during the last years and is seen as serious competition for the rest of the world due to the innovative building techniques that is gradually bringing on the table. 3D printed houses which can be completed within a day is a very representative example.

Lastly, the reduced building cost due to lower pay rates and fewer regulations provides the Asian market with an indispensable advantage.

Top mistakes housebuilders make

Building multiple homes at the same time isn’t an easy job. During the building process a number of mistakes are likely to emerge. House builders are, of course, responsible for them to a certain extent. Nonetheless, the core of their mistakes is the inability to make good use of the available technologies and data.
We have listed their top mistakes below:

Poor data use

As reported by The Economist, data is the most valuable asset in today’s world. Unfortunately, there are still many in the construction industry who have a hard time seeing it.

Because of that, the decision-making process can be problematic in many cases. More specifically, housebuilders tend to implement a process for each department instead of implementing it across the numerous departments.

data in construction
Source: The Economist

In other words, there is no proper use of the accumulated data. As a result, it is hard for all project stakeholders to learn from past mistakes and improve their practices. This is where historical data could help and make it easier for the whole industry to optimise its processes.

Moreover, the proper use of data can simplify the effort to keep track of everything that takes place on site. For instance, if we take a look at the finance industry we will see that when we open our Netbank, we expect to see status right now – not last week’s status. Why should it be different in construction?

No standardisation

By now, it is clear that standardising your work processes in construction can be incredibly beneficial for the development and the final outcome of your project.

Otherwise, the way you build and work varies from project to project. This can ultimately have a serious effect on productivity. The need to readjust your scheduling and operation techniques on every project can harm your effort to establish long-term strategic partnerships, as well.

It doesn’t take much, then, to realise that standardisation is the way forward for home providers and that process consistency can be the key to reduce house building cost.

Fragmented communication

We have referred to the importance of good communication several times. Despite the fact that there’s too much discussion around this issue, there are many in the industry who tend to ignore the importance of real-time and open communication between all the project parties.

accident rate - communication
For example, many housebuilders still work with schedules (ex. MSP) and then send them as PDF documents to all contractors. This can be the source of significant mistakes and costly rework time as nobody knows if they have seen the latest updates.

Like that, you can end up having your team working on different plans, while having no overview of the numerous processes.

How LetsBuild can help housebuilders

Speeding up your project delivery isn’t easy. That’s why in LetsBuild we have built our software in a way that it can meet your needs as a housebuilder and become your ally in the effort for more efficient and data-driven projects.

Below you can see some ways in which LetsBuild can help you regain control of your housebuilding project:

Better collaboration

No need for your contractors to drive to the site in vain because it’s not ready for them. Increase collaboration between subcontractors so that they can optimize their work flows and make adjustments when delays occur.

Mobile field reporting

Connecting site to office can be very simple if done correctly. With the help of LetsBuild, you can put an end to long and unnecessary meetings and calls.
Just by using your smartphone, you can quickly report progress and let everybody in your team know about the issues on site. This will allow the whole team to address problems on time and reduce housebuilding cost and wrench time.
problem reporting - genie belt
On top of that, you can add photos and provide a complete picture of what’s happening on the field. In that way, you can connect site to office and help managers regain control of the project.

Live project insights

Construction insights across projects can accelerate the development of your tasks. Save effort and time through custom dashboards, big data and the milestone tracker.

These elements will allow you optimise your future projects and gain accurate and detailed overview of the different projects that you are working on.

In case that a ‘payment per milestone’ agreement is in place, LetsBuild can simplify the invoicing process. Through the use of the milestone tracker, key milestones will be tied in with invoicing so there is a good understanding of when the clients should be invoiced.

Knowledge sharing between departments

House builders can share knowledge across the various departments in a smart and straightforward manner. Establish better communication between the contractors and subcontractors that work on their project(s).

Like that, housebuilders can always be sure that the right people are on site at the right time. No reason for the subcontractors to aimlessly wander around the site.All information are being shared in a central place and every last minute change is communicated in real-time to the numerous project stakeholders.

Project duplication

The copy template feature allows housebuilders to duplicate a project in order to create an exact copy of it.
This can be extremely useful in the effort to create multiple projects with the same tasks. Housebuilders can save a lot of time and increase the speed of project design, operation and delivery. Admittedly a solid step toward the standardisation of the building process

Performance monitoring

Being able to keep track of how your subcontractors and project managers perform can be powerful. In that manner, you can have a good overview of each member’s contribution to your project.

Accountability is a fundamental component for every building project and in that sense, monitoring who is working proactively for your product and who isn’t can bring you a step closer to a more transparent and effective construction industry.

Better connection with customers

Regardless of your project’s type, at the end of the day, everything comes down to the customer who funds the project. That being said, it can be remarkably useful to provide them with a detailed overview of the project’s progress.
And that’s not all! The more information you have about the numerous tasks the easier it is to answer customer questions and prove to them that you have everything under control.

This can be a powerful investment for your firm, as well. You can create a better reputation and attract more and bigger customers as time goes by. Plus, you can let the numbers speak for themselves as you will be consistently able to deliver higher margins due to improved efficiency rates.

Here is an example of project progress monitoring in LetsBuild:

The housebuilder stairway to heaven

Wrapping it up, digital tools can help housebuilders improve both their collaboration plan and performance while saving money and increasing efficiency on and off-site. LetsBuild can be the backbone of the construction process and decrease house building cost.

In that manner, housebuilders can step up their game in multiple aspects. For instance, by having an effective plan in place they can overpromise and overdeliver when it comes to a home building project. Being able to promise a new house in, say, 4 months instead of 9 is an essential competitive advantage.

Through flawless construction planning, tasks can proceed fast and efficiently and challenging issues can effortlessly be addressed across multiple projects. All in all, a brighter day for construction might be closer than many think.