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  • Jay Darji - Procost Systems

Time and Cost Control on Construction Projects


Key Points of Article:

  • Project cost and time management techniques

  • Establish a work activity list

  • The sequence of work activities

  • Cost control issues and methods

Time and Cost Control on Construction Projects


The major parameters on any project are cost and duration. Any contractor must control these. The contractor is committed to completing the project in the specific time frame and at a finite cost. For this, project information must be collected in real-time so that informed decisions can be made to modify operations to meet the time frame and estimated cost.

Traditionally, the contractor’s field personnel, with their skills and knowledge executed the project with minimal cost. The effectiveness of control of time and cost on the construction projects was only evident at the end of the project based upon profitability achieved and if the job was completed on time.

In recent years, however, the use of technology, mobile Apps, and computerized cost control tools, provide visibility of project at any given time and provide a means of monitoring the effectiveness of the controls during a project. This allows project site teams to adjust to understand labour productivity and subcontractor efficiency daily, and helps bring the project progress within budget.

Small as well as large construction projects can benefit from such construction technology tools to monitor time and cost control. It is no longer a luxury to purchase these technology tools. For a few hundred rupees, less than the cost of an employee, labour and material cost control techniques can be implemented during the construction execution.


  1. Project Time (Schedule) Control (Ref. Constructskills: https://youtu.be/Kl9f6nEk8io)


The construction project owner will always need a project to be completed at earliest, to save on fixed and overhead costs, improving profitability. There are also liquidated damages which need to be avoided.

The completion date is often based on the owner’s need for the facility and not practically expected construction duration.

A project needs to be planned according to construction sequence and realistic projected duration of activities, for efficient planning, procurement, and execution. The planning of work activities must consider the following:

  • List / Identify all work activities

  • Duration of activities

  • Sequencing of activities

  • Interrelationship of the activities

  • Adequate skilled/unskilled crafts requirements

  • Material delivery dates

This information could be compiled jointly by all the personnel deployed on the project site, to get their buy-in and better updates of project schedules as work progresses.


  1. Identification of activities


Each activity should be identified with the following details:

  • Each activity should be a separate function and linked to a Bill of Quantity (BoQ) item

  • Each activity should be able to be linked to the craft team

  • Each activity should have the ability to capture budget vs actual costs

  • Activity duration should be no shorter than one day.


1.Sequence of activity


The construction managers should sequence the activities considering the following:

  • Discuss reasons with the team for choosing one sequence over another.

  • Compare durations and costs associated with different sequences.

  • Consider the time required for procurement, curing, setting, etc.


2.Duration of activity


When determining the duration of a construction activity you should consider these factors:

  • Should be linked with labour hours and methodology of execution of the activity.

  • Should be related to the quantity of work accomplished.

  • Consider the number of workdays and work hours/workday.

  • Weather and site conditions

  • Procurement of material


3.The project schedule


It is a communication tool to share among the project team. The basic information contained in is a good schedule is:

  • Start date required on Jobsite and duration allowed for work.

  • Current status of the project

  • Constraints: Date drawings and/or material due at Jobsite.

  • Use of software tools such as MS Project or Primavera. These technology tools normally calculate the critical path for the project.


Updating the project is necessary periodically, either weekly or biweekly. A baseline schedule must be saved to compare the progress to the original plan. Completion date changes should be infrequent. If end dates changes, it should be properly communicated among project participants.


4.Project Cost Control


Comparison of the actual cost with the budgeted cost during the project provides an accurate measurement of the success of the construction project. Several computer software programs are available for capturing actual labour and material costs incurred in real-time cost control. The software easily helps capture site data and computes the data such as reconciliations of material, labour productivity, and quality issues.


The primary objective in using construction management software tools is setting up a project cost control system that can be used to collect, collaborate, collaborate and report construction cost activities. The cost collected should be at BoQ item level, so that identifications of a problem is easy and helps in finding a solution.


Following points needs to be considered while creating a cost control system:


  • Cost collected can be used for productivity analysis

  • Comparison of budget vs. actual should be in real-time

  • Feedback system regarding labour productivity assessment should be possible

  • Factors related to inefficiencies should be traced to each activity


There are several problems related to low productivity at sites. Some examples are:

Poor Layout of material storage areas, skills and experience of crafts, improper sequencing, wrong or not enough tools, tackles, and equipment, insufficient or defective material, weather conditions, improper supervisions and much more.


Software tools help collect data and prompt identification of reasons for low productivity is possible.


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