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In days gone by I got myself a contract as a lowly site supervisor on a tin shed job. It was quite a big tin shed; 27 acres of it with a single floor and roof! The first job I was given was to roam around the whole place, inside and out, and come up with a De-Snag List. It was a bit out-facing in some respects, but I did find one big benefit; the roof. Some parts were pitched and south-facing; ideal for a quick shirt off, lie down and top up the tan!

Anyway, I quickly realised what a task this was going to be. Talked the PM into taking on a couple of typists and getting typewriters (this was in the days before gadgets or even computers on site) and their audio outputs. I had to pay for my Dictaphone myself, along with a box full of tapes! As soon as this was in place, my days were spent wandering in and out, up and down, all the time muttering into my recorder.

Once all the sub-contractors realised what I was up to, they had gangs of lads running in front of me trying to bring any defects in their own work up to scratch. The mere fact that I was looking for snags seemed to alter the whole culture of the 1,500 men on the site to one of teamwork and they certainly didn’t hold it against me! Despite their efforts, though, we ended up with a List of almost 14,000 Snags!

Down

This lot took me about six weeks and the tradesmen twice as long! I thought to myself at the time, and this was before the catchy phrase “De-snag as you go” came into the general construction vocabulary, what a waste of money this de-snagging is!

So, what I did on my next contract which was as a Site Manager for an office block fit-out, was have my daily wander around the site and, if I saw something that wasn’t up to standard, in other words needed de-snagging, I’d quietly point it out to the lads while they were still working there.

At first they were a bit narked with me but got on with putting it right. Then, slowly but surely, they came to like me looking at their work with a discerning eye! So they made sure I could find nothing wrong with it!

Sanders

Then came a most unexpected spin-off! It seemed to make all the lads feel they were valued as a part of the team! If they had a problem they didn’t botch the job and wait for me to find out; they came and discussed it with me. This actually accelerated the work rate!

The moral of the story is to treat the dirty finger nail brigade like the skilled tradesmen they are and to realise it is them who build things, not us snooty ones, and to treat them with respect and courtesy. Do that, demonstrate to them that you appreciate their work, then there will be a lot less snags to de-snag! That will save you a lot of writing and hassle!

The moral of all this is run a project from the very beginning by instilling a culture of “De-snag as you go” and the lads will do most of it for you!

Any experience of de-snag as you go?

Take a look at other tips for effective construction project management.