Murphy Construction

Burke Nicholson

May 2006

We all know Murphy’s Law, right? Well the other day, after our company’s weekly job review meeting, I was driving home and thinking of how things can go wrong on a job.

A careful review of every step can eliminate potential problems down the road. Starting with the job estimate, it is a good rule of thumb to assign two people to look at bids on major contracts. Next, have a pre-job review with the project manager, foreman, estimators and super. Then, pick the right foreman and assign the right crew. Did you think about getting the right material delivered to the right location? Did you check the wall heights, or did you order 15-foot studs for a 15.5 foot high wall?

Assuming you got all this right, now what can go wrong? Did the GC put the wrong super on your job? If so, we know your problem. Our company coins it "the Looney factor,” named after a super we knew. When a Looney is running the job, we add 5 percent to our quote.

What about dealings with the other subs? Do you have regular job meetings with them and agree to cooperate but never follow through?

Most of us have to deal with bad plans, so now we’ve got field change orders. But the GC doesn’t want to issue change orders until the end of the job, and he never agrees with the field on scope and costs. Right? No. Now you have to finish the job, and the foreman is perfect for another job starting now. Trust me, if you pull that foreman, you’ll lose control and profits.

Finally the GC thinks you’re "Murphy’s National Bank” and wants you to finance the job until his grandson graduates from college, and he’s on the six-year plan and is thinking about a master’s degree.

I’m positive that Murphy was a subcontractor. But once in a while everything goes right. It’s like a 22 handicap getting a birdie. It keeps us coming back for more.