On a construction site, unnecessary expenses that can be avoided with proper planning and management include the following.
• Emptying the dumpster too often because workers are allowed to toss bulky items in without any attention to maximizing the fill volume. In goes a cabinet or two, then some plywood that creates a floor effect, then a few pieces of drywall, and your dumpster is full.
There are several pockets of empty space, but nothing more will fit because of the way the dumpster was filled. You have to pay each time the dumpster is hauled off and emptied. Those dollars can add up pretty quickly.
• Theft of supplies is a major problem on worksites. Be sure to lock up absolutely everything at the end of each day. If possible, and if there is not a delivery fee for each trip, have only one day’s supplies delivered each day. There is less to lock up at night, it is easier to keep track of materials being used during the day, and it is harder for dishonest workers to steal materials during the day.
• Over-ordering supplies will usually result in restocking fees if you send unused materials back for a credit. That is, if you order 7,000 bricks, just to be on the safe side, but you return 2,000 of them, you will usually have to pay a 20% restocking fee. In other words, you do not get full credit for a refund on returned items, but only an 80% credit.
• Be present at the worksite first thing in the morning, and last thing at night, if at all possible. Make notes regarding who arrives and leaves, and at what times. If work stops for a day or two because of bad weather, note that also. Some subcontractors are simply dishonest and will bill you for time they did not actually work. Drug abuse and alcoholism are also rampant in the trades. Others are simply sloppy, keep poor time records, and then try to reconstruct their hours at the end of the job. You usually get the short end of that stick.
• On any time-and-materials contract, the owner often ends up paying the contractor to correct his or her own mistakes. I have had plumbers drop tubs and then charge me for the replacement, carpenters fail to use a level and then charge me to rip out work and start over, and electricians who put lights in wrong places and then bill me for change orders when they had to be moved. The only defense is to have a firm policy of payment only for signed change orders and to be present at the job site as much as possible to catch mistakes. I have had some absolute jewels for general contractors, people I would trust with the password to my bank account, but such people are rare. Constant vigilance will keep down unnecessary costs. Blind faith will not.