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Painting Pro’s Perspective: Schedule Changes and Fake Deadlines

Through the years, most of us have experienced schedule shenanigans among the varying market segments; industrial, residential, institutional and commercial. Some just shrugged off the urgent situation as another job to “git r done”, while other professionals scream murder, but reluctantly perform. On the rare occasion, paint and coating experts are appropriately compensated for the additional costs of the last minute crunch. Whether or not there is a project schedule or a trade/phase detail (such as a critical path analysis or day count) written into the contract, owners, construction managers, general contractors and builders squeeze application timeframes all too often.

Sometimes descriptions are better in a war story format, so here are a couple real-life samples: see if these schedule shuffles are familiar;

  1. Marine project scope – cargo ship deck, a car carrier, with a scope of near white metal blast, zinc primer, and a high build, non-skid finish coating.
    Players – coating contractor and owner with a consulting company as a representative.
    Set-up – the boat was in wet dock and exposed to the weather, the schedule was ironclad – 5 days.

    Since the boat was leaving for a run on the 6th morning and was booked for the foreseeable future, other maintenance work was being performed as well. To avoid over-night flash rusting on the freshly blasted surfaces, priming was to be performed daily upon inspection clearance for the first three days upon inspection clearance and finish to be applied the remaining two days. On the second day, after the in-house mechanics completed a re-build on one of the engines, it blew during testing. Because of the damage and short work window, it was decided to purchase a new motor…access was through a 12′ x 12′ hole cut through the middle of the deck.

    Then the weather changed, it rained into the next morning. Day three and most of four was lost. The coating professional asked for the common sense solution; add one day. But the answer was no and additional electrical work was needed on the deck, which further cut into the schedule. Solutions were reviewed, but the coating company would not guarantee application (in sections) while the ship was underway and as soon as the shipped docked, cargo was to be loaded (not the best situation to spray hi-build materials around vehicles).

    In the end, the ship disembarked with only one deck section finished and the remainder just primed. The application outfit fought hard and settled for time and material compensation avoiding court, but was removed from the bid list.

  2. Institutional project scope – a band-aid renovation of 15,000 square feet, which included washing and spraying existing ceiling grid, patch and prepare all existing walls, tape and finish new walls, refinish old polyurethane doors (90) and paint metal frames (82) two coats (color change).
    Players; owner, construction manager, general contractor and paint company.
    Set-up; 2nd phase of 8 (paint company on first phase was different), project was bid for a 6 week schedule all trades, but before contracts were executed all trades were knuckled down to five weeks without additional compensation. The 5 week compressed timeframe and color schedule was detailed in the contract. Trades included labor (demolition), carpenters (some new walls, door units and acoustical ceilings) fire alarm, electrical, flooring, plumbers (miscellaneous sinks) and sprinkler.

    At week one, five wall colors were added by the owner where 2 out 3 rooms had an accent wall; compensation was included, but the schedule remained. Week two; 75% of the ceiling grid, wall and door frame preparation was completed. Tuesday of week three, the owner’s representative inquired if the project could be completed by Friday; all trades said no way. Owner decreed that project was to be complete in four weeks regardless of contracts and schedule. The paint company was instructed to work additional shifts including the fourth week end to complete without compensation. All trades were on site the fourth Friday, which made it impossible for the painting work to be complete and several trades did not finish until the following Monday and two more on Tuesday, while the paint company finished Wednesday (4 weeks 3 days).

    In the end, the application outfit received compensation for the color additions, but invoices for overtime were not approved. The paint company was taken off the bid list for subsequent phases. Both the owner and the construction management company were billion dollar organizations with lawyers on staff, consequently, the cost of pursuing compensation was prohibitive. Interesting note: the owner was responsible for some occupancy compliance work and did not complete until several weeks after the deadline.

In war story number 1, the schedule was impacted by the owner and force de majeure. The paint coating company performed the scope in good faith, but was physically unable to complete. Aside from everything else, the owner did not want to absorb the cost for the application crew to fly and meet the ship. In war story number 2, besides an already compressed schedule, the building owner’s representative pronounced a fake deadline to merely impress his bosses. This individual was not a supervisor or a project manager, but a director, which is a fairly high level position to be so insecure and incompetent to come up with a bogus timeframe. In hindsight, the schedule compression from six down to five weeks was more idiotitis. It turned out that there was not an eminent occupancy and the cleaners did not start for until a few weeks after the project was complete. By the way, the paint company did not have any workmanship deficiencies or punch list items; carpenters electricians, flooring and sprinkler companies had issues.

Here’s the pro’s perspective solution to deal with schedule changes and fake deadlines:

  1. Schedules must be part of the contract and at a minimum; the substantial completion date must be in the document. Do not blindly sign contracts or agree to schedules without understanding the overall project scope.
  2. Changes, impacts and delays must be documented and distributed within hours via email with verbal follow up to all pertinent players.
  3. If there is a schedule change, or a fake deadline after several delays, which is somewhat common, respond with costs to all. In addition, document good faith actions and any value added contributions with an invoice and letter of explanation of no charge based on the following; insert a protective statement for payment and change order approval.
    3A. Don’t work for shady people and anyone who beats you down as a mode of operation.

Generally, schedule changes are somewhat easier to deal with if paint company management is capable, but compressed timeframes as a result of poor project management is an enormous, rampant issue that must be addressed/documented daily. And for the most part, fake deadlines just need to be exposed and well run application companies rise above the fray and do not need bogus urgencies to perform.

And that’s the Pro’s Perspective; please send comments to ppt@extensionmedia.com.


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