How to Estimate a Construction Schedule

construction image by Pali A from

Whether you are constructing a house extension or building a large commercial unit, the duration of the project needs to be accurately estimated in order to correctly assess such items as resources and budget. Estimating a construction schedule is not limited to just the time when building is ongoing; there are tasks to be carried out both before and after the physical construction of the project to consider. A good schedule also establishes the relationship between task and time, and gives various parties involved responsibility over different functions.

Creating an Accurate Construction Schedule

Good preparation is key to an accurate schedule.
Group of business people working together in the office.. image by Andrey Kiselev from

A construction schedule will only be fully accurate with the input of all parties involved in the project. According to, "Communication remains vital once construction begins. Everyone who is a part of the project team...needs to be part of the communication process." Meet, become acquainted, and collectively begin to collate information required for a schedule.

Make a list of all construction-based tasks involved in the project, beginning from demolition and groundworks, through to fitting the light bulbs. Estimate the time it will take to complete these individual tasks from start to finish, taking into account lead-in times for materials.

Many of these tasks will involve expenditure.
coins image by Maria Brzostowska from

List all administrative tasks, such as choosing materials, producing drawings, preparing a budget and awarding contracts. Identify a duration for each of these tasks.

A construction scheduling programme will carry out this task with ease.
process flow image by Christopher Hall from

Establish an order for each of these activities. Some may not be able to begin until the previous task has completed: for example, painting cannot begin until the walls are finished. Some tasks, however, can run alongside each other. "Construction Scheduling 101", by PinnacleOne, states that "in order to properly track work progress, the schedule needs separate activities for each trade contractor".

Be generous on durations to ensure there is scope for delay.
time image by timur1970 from

Assign durations to each of these activities, bearing in mind considerations such as material lead-in times. This will require input from contractors and suppliers, and begin to give a firm indication as to the total construction schedule.

All parties should reach an amicable agreement.
handshake image by Adam Borkowski from

Confirm the final construction schedule with all parties involved to ensure everybody is satisfied with the durations allowed. A signed copy of this schedule may often form part of the contract.

Splitting up the schedule can be helpful.
builder image by AGITA LEIMANE from

The schedule can be broken down into sections as the project continues, in order to be relevant to works being carried out at that time. "Construction Scheduling 101", by PinnacleOne, states that "field staff often develop short-term, hand-drawn schedules to coordinate day to day activities among subcontractors".


  • There are many construction scheduling programs available to assist in this task. Hire Project Managers to use their expertise in fulfilling this function, minimizing the risk of error. Preparation is absolutely vital for the creation of an accurate schedule.


  • Construction schedules that are not regularly updated will become irrelevant and provide false information. Remember, delays can often lead to additional expenditure.

About the Author

Ben Wakeling graduated from Coventry University in 2009 with an upper second class honours B.Sc. degree in construction management. Wakeling is also a freelance writer, and works for a number of businesses, such as Demand Studios, Suite 101 and Academic Knowledge.

Photo Credits