How to Create a Construction Schedule
Pro Tips
How to Create a Construction Schedule
BuildBook Team
December 17, 2020

5 simple steps to create a residential or commercial construction schedule template or Gantt chart in Excel or Google Sheets

Creating a construction schedule from scratch might seem both time-consuming and confusing, but in reality they are just created with the same tasks and information you have when first starting a project. If that’s where you are, you’re already over halfway done. 

If you’d like to save time and not create a construction schedule from scratch, you can always use a free Excel or Google Sheets construction schedule template that has already been built. In fact, we’ve created an easy-to-use construction Gantt chart template that you can download for free and start using immediately. 

If you'd prefer to skip spreadsheets altogether, check out the video below to see how easy it is to create a powerful construction schedule with BuildBook project management software.

Whether you start from scratch, use construction scheduling software, or grab a free construction schedule template in Excel, thinking about what you need to create your project schedule ahead of time will help you avoid mistakes that can cost you valuable time and money. 

Create a construction project schedule in 5 easy steps:

  1. Gather all of the necessary project details, materials, and tasks needed to complete the project.
  2. Choose which software (i.e. Excel, Google Sheets, etc.) you want to use to create your schedule template. 
  3. Organize the project tasks based on the order in which they need to happen.
  4. Determine and assign a timeline to each task.
  5. Review, share, and save as your own construction schedule template.

Step 1: What you need to gather to start creating your construction schedule

Every construction project is different and will have their own variables, but generally speaking, all projects will have some common items that are needed to create a construction schedule. 

These things include:

  • The scope of work to be performed in your residential or commercial project
  • An overview of materials needed to complete the project
  • The time it will take to source and receive all the materials
  • The list of codes that need to be checked
  • A list of subcontractors that will be a part of the construction project
  • A list of workers from your team that will be involved
  • All of the bids, estimates, client material selections, and signed contracts 
  • An outline of the individual tasks to be completed to finish the project (i.e., first is demo, second is site excavation, etc.)
  • The timeline for how long each of the project tasks will take
  • A prioritized list of the project tasks based on the order in which the tasks need to be initiated and completed

Each construction schedule will be slightly different depending on the scope. A kitchen remodeling project will not have the same task list as a new custom home build, so it’s always a good idea when you develop a construction schedule to save a copy as a new template for a specific scope of work. 

For example, you might want to have different versions saved such as a residential construction schedule template and a commercial construction schedule template. Or, it could be more specific to the project type such as a bathroom project remodeling schedule template and kitchen project remodeling schedule template. 

We’ll cover more about saving your construction schedule as a template in the final step. 

Step 2: Choosing between Excel or Google Sheets to create a construction schedule

Once you have all of the information pulled together, it’s time to start building the framework of the project schedule. Most people will choose to build their schedule with Excel or Google Sheets, but there are certainly more options to choose from if neither of those work for you. 

If you’re deciding between Excel and Google Sheets, there really isn’t a bad choice here, it just comes down to what you’re most comfortable using. 

Both of them include basic pre-built schedule templates to get you started or give you the choice to build it from scratch. 

One thing you may want to consider, however, is that if you’re planning to share or collaborate on the construction schedule with other project participants, Google Sheets might be the better option. It’s both free to use and makes it very easy to share and/or edit with others.  

Note: Our free construction Gantt chart template can be used in either Excel or Google Sheets.

Also, if you want to see how to get started on creating your construction schedule with Excel or Google Sheets, we’ve outlined each step in the articles below:

How to create a construction schedule template in Excel

How to create a construction schedule template in Google Sheets

Step 3: Organizing the tasks of a construction schedule

Now that you have either the template or framework in place to create your construction schedule, it’s time to start laying out and organizing all of the tasks of your project. 

Whether you have your tasks jotted down on a piece of paper or just floating around in your head, it’s important to itemize each task that needs to get done in the order in which it needs to happen. 

Some of your tasks will be dependent upon another task being completed first and others may overlap. If you want to simplify the process to get started, begin by listing all of the tasks that NEED to get done ahead of another task beginning. These are your dependent tasks such as framing walls before installing sheetrock. 

Starting with your dependent tasks first can make organizing a massive list of to-do’s a lot less overwhelming. And, once those are in place, you’ll have a much shorter list of tasks to now layer into your schedule or Gantt chart.  

Step 4: Creating a project and task timeline for your construction schedule

Now it's time to add the most important component to a construction schedule — the task timeline — which ultimately leads to your overall project timeline. 

With your complete list of project tasks now organized in the order in which they need to begin, you’ll now need to allocate a set amount of time for each task to be completed. 

You might think of this process as both an art and a science. If you’ve been in construction for awhile, you might know — down to the minute — how long a task will take to complete. If you’re just getting started in construction, this could be a complete shot in the dark. 

Having said that, there are a few things to consider that could make creating a construction project timeline a little easier:

  1. Is there a hard date that the project needs to be completed by, or existing timeframes that your subs are available? If so, it might be easier to work backwards. If you have 30 total tasks and you have a finite amount of time to work with, you can simply allocate time to each task based on when it’s necessary to get them done to hit your date.

    Keep in mind that this assumes that you start with a reasonable amount of time to complete the project or hit your milestones to begin with.

  2. Ask your team and subcontractors for help. If you’re not sure how long a particular task is going to take, ask the person responsible for completing it.

    If you feel like they’re padding their answer with extra time, you can always reach out to someone outside of the project with a similar expertise to confirm.

  3. Start with what you know and don’t get stuck on the first task you're unsure of. If you don’t know the timeframe of a task as you're going through your list, just move to the next one. Get as many of the tasks you know out of the way first so figuring out one task doesn’t hold up your progress. 

Once you’ve finished your timeline for each task, your construction project timeline should have come together as well. At this point, you’re nearing the end of having a completed construction schedule.   

Step 5: Review, share, and save your new construction schedule template 

Reviewing your construction schedule

Now that all of your project information, materials, tasks, and timelines have been put into place, it’s important to carefully review everything and make sure that nothing is missing. 

Construction projects never go exactly as planned, so of course there will inevitably be schedule changes and updates that are necessary throughout the project. 

Having said that, your initial construction schedule should be an accurate representation of how you’d ideally want the flow of the project to be. Missing even the smallest of tasks can have a butterfly effect on every task that follows. 

Your construction schedule is the blueprint for you, your team, subcontractors, and clients to follow, so reviewing it carefully before sharing it is as important as measuring twice and cutting once. 

Sharing your construction schedule 

After you’ve completed your review, your construction schedule is ready to be shared with your project participants. 

If you’ve created your construction schedule in Excel, you can save it as an Excel file or download it as a PDF. You’ll want to consider that sharing it as an Excel file may limit those that can access the schedule. And, unless you’ve protected the cells in the file, people who have access could make changes to their version.  

If you’ve created your construction schedule in Google Sheets, you can export it as either a working file or as a PDF similar to Excel. The better option that Google Sheets offers is the ability to simply email a link to the schedule within Google Sheets while assigning different levels of access to those you send it to. 

In addition to emailing a link or file to your project participants, don’t forget to add it to the project documents folder in whatever construction management solution you’re using, such as BuildBook. Keeping a copy of your construction schedule in a shared folder like this assures that everyone within the project remains on the same page. 

Creating a construction schedule template

The beauty of now having a completed construction schedule is that creating new schedules in the future is going to be a breeze. But, in order for that to be true, you’ll need to save a master copy that you can re-use the next time. 

As mentioned previously, you may want to make multiple copies of your construction schedule template based on the type of work or project. I.e. residential construction schedule template, remodeling schedule template, etc.  

Saving your newly created construction project schedule as a template is going to make your job easier next time. 

Now that you’re done, you’re well on your way to successful and less stressful projects. 

Lastly, even if you want to create your construction schedule from scratch, be sure to download our free construction Gantt chart as a good construction schedule sample or just for inspiration.

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