How to Plan a Construction Schedule: Free Templates

Finishing a construction project on time and on budget is every builder’s goal. So how do you set yourself up for success? 

Whether you’re renovating an old house or building a new home from the ground up, every construction job starts with a plan. Learn what a construction schedule is and how to use a gantt chart to plan a construction timeline, with free templates and examples to help you get started.

What is a construction schedule?

A construction schedule is a detailed plan that outlines the tasks, resources, and requirements needed to complete a new build or renovation on time and budget. It also highlights important project milestones or dependencies that factor into the work plan. 

Many construction managers use gantt charts to schedule construction timelines because it’s easier to visualize how and when work will get done and track progress against your estimates.

What should a construction schedule include?

A construction work schedule typically includes the following elements:

  • Task list: A breakdown of all the work and requirements needed to build a construction project to completion
  • Project timeline: A detailed construction timeline that outlines when tasks need to happen to ensure work is delivered on schedule
  • Project milestones: Major dates, deliverables, and events—such as contract approvals, inspections, or draw requests—that help you track forward progress in the construction schedule
  • Task dependencies: Connections between related tasks that need to happen in a certain order
  • Resource assignments: A clear plan for delegating tasks to the subcontractor or field crew responsible for the work
  • Project files: Important design, planning, and closeout documents, such as blueprints, contracts, budgets, permits, inspection reports, and construction change orders

Why use a gantt chart for construction scheduling?

In construction project management, you have schedules to wrangle, budgets to balance, and people to keep happy. And changes in one stage of construction can have a domino effect on the rest of your schedule.

A gantt chart makes it easy to plan, track, and communicate your construction schedule so everyone—from foreman to field crew—is working toward the same project goal. 

Unexpected weather, supply delays, overbooked crews, and faulty workmanship are just some of the factors that can throw construction projects off schedule. Using a gantt chart to manage construction timelines and resources enables you to spot overages early so you can address issues quickly and minimize the impact of delays.

Free construction schedule templates

Ready to plan your next construction job? Get started faster with one of our pre-built construction scheduling templates. The basics are already in place. Simply choose your favorite format, and customize the template to fit your next project.

Residential construction schedule template for Microsoft Excel

Lots of construction project managers use spreadsheets to plan out work, so we built a simple Excel construction schedule template to help you get started. 

A couple of quick formatting notes:

  • Milestones are listed in the Task Description column with bold and italicized text so it’s easy to spot important project checkpoints. 
  • The Progress and Resource Assigned columns feature drop-down lists to speed up data entry. You can edit the options for each drop-down on separate worksheets in the construction schedule template. 

Automated formulas have also been applied to the following columns for each main task group row:

  • Progress: Calculates the average % complete for the task group
  • Start date: Pulls in the start date of the first task in the task group
  • End date: Pulls in the end date of the last task in the task group
  • Estimated hours: Calculates the total sum for the task group
  • Actual hours: Calculates the total sum for the task group

Just keep in mind that this Excel template works best for simple residential construction projects that won’t require a ton of collaboration or schedule changes. Otherwise, you’ll spend a lot of extra time manually updating your timeline and emailing the latest version to everyone involved in the project.

Download our free construction schedule Excel template.

Construction gantt chart template for real-time collaboration

TeamGantt’s construction gantt chart template brings project scheduling online so your whole team can collaborate on work together. Build and adjust timelines in minutes with drag and drop simplicity, and spend less time on admin tasks that don’t pay the bills.

Using TeamGantt for construction project management makes it easy to track progress once work begins and communicate changes to build teams and subcontractors—both on and off the jobsite. Switch from gantt chart to task list, Kanban board, or calendar views in a single click for flexible workflows that adapt to you.

Try TeamGantt's online construction plan template for free.

How to make a construction project schedule using a gantt chart

Construction planning and management sets the stage for success because it gives everyone a clear timeline to follow, with critical information documented in a single source of truth. 

Before you start scheduling your next build, take time to gather all the project details—from deadlines and budgets to resources, stakeholders, and materials. Once you’ve got these basics in hand, here are 5 simple construction scheduling steps you can follow.

Step 1: List out all your construction tasks and milestones.

The first step in construction planning is simple: Make a list of all the different tasks, deliverables, and other milestones that stand between you and project completion.

Start by using a work breakdown structure to itemize everything and get a sense of scope for your construction project. 

Then group tasks into phases to keep your construction schedule neat and tidy as you build it out. We organized tasks in our construction plan template into 3 major phases:

  • Phase 1 - Preconstruction: This phase is where design, planning, and permitting happens. Think of preconstruction as all the things you need to have in place before the actual build begins. 
  • Phase 2 - Construction: The construction phase is the heart of the action. You’ll need to coordinate closely with supers and subcontractors to understand the level of effort required to complete their tasks—as well as the availability and scheduling of their field crews—to ensure your plan doesn’t fall behind.
  • Phase 3 - Closeout: Once your build is complete, you’re ready to move on to the closeout phase. This phase includes final inspections, client walk-throughs, punch list completion, and closeout documents.

Step 2: Schedule work onto your construction timeline.

The next step in the construction planning process is to assign a timeline to the work needed to get your project done. 

In TeamGantt, construction scheduling is easy! Simply hover over the timeline, and click on the gantt chart to place the taskbar below the date you'd like to schedule your task. Then drag either end of the taskbar to adjust the task’s duration.

Using drag and drop scheduling to plan your construction project in TeamGantt

Be as realistic as you can about task timing at this stage. Review past construction schedules to compare your planned vs. actual timeline and assess how work really unfolded. Don’t forget to take external factors into account as well, whether it’s seasonal impacts on weather or potential delivery delays. 

Step 3: Add dependencies between related tasks. 

You can’t frame the roof before walls have been built or hang drywall before the electrical and plumbing have been installed. That’s why dependencies are a critical part of construction planning and scheduling. 

Add dependencies between tasks to ensure work happens in the proper order and give everyone a clear sense of how their tasks impact others. In TeamGantt, dependencies appear as light gray lines connecting taskbars on the gantt chart.

Adding dependencies between tasks in your construction schedule in TeamGantt

Step 4: Assign resources to the scheduled work.

Work won’t get done on its own. You need people to make it happen, and that’s where resource assignments come in. 

Make sure you assign every task and milestone on your construction schedule to the person or team responsible for the work. That way there’s no question as to who’s doing what and when deadlines are.

You’ll need to invite people into your project plan before you assign them to tasks. With TeamGantt, you only pay for managers. Our Pro plan lets you invite as many collaborators as you like for absolutely free! Keep everyone in sync without worrying about racking up extra costs. 

Need to factor construction equipment or materials into your plan? Use labels to assign those resources to tasks, so you can track the availability of physical assets right alongside your people.

Step 5: Monitor your construction plan and address issues. 

A plan is a living, breathing document that will evolve as work progresses. That's why it's important to keep it up-to-date.

Review your construction schedule regularly, and be sure it reflects the latest project status and deadlines. This will make it easier for you to get ahead of delays and issues before your entire project goes off-track.

Construction gantt chart examples and best practices

There are lots of different ways to go about creating a gantt chart for your construction project. Here are some practical examples you can use to schedule and manage a residential construction project in TeamGantt.

Use task subgroups to organize your construction project plan

We’ve already mentioned 3 major phases you might consider for your construction plan (preconstruction, construction, and closeout). 

But don’t be afraid to break your project down into smaller phases as you build your construction schedule out. This enables you to easily see how each stage of your construction project is progressing and makes rescheduling multiple tasks a whole lot faster.

In TeamGantt, you can do this by converting a task into a subgroup and adding tasks for that phase under the corresponding subgroup. In this example, we created subgroups with detailed tasks for each leg of the MEP rough-in phase:

Organizing construction tasks into groups in a gantt chart

Apply task colors to add visual organization to your construction schedule

Color-coding tasks by project phase, person or team responsible, or even priority is another simple way to make your gantt chart easy to scan and understand. In the construction gantt chart example above, we color-coded tasks by subgroup.

Watch this video to see how task colors work in TeamGantt.

Check availability before assigning tasks to keep workloads balanced

Resource management can get a little tricky in construction planning because you’ve got so many different subcontractors and schedules to balance. With TeamGantt’s workload features, you can avoid messy scheduling conflicts and overbooked field crews.

Simply click the Workloads tab at the bottom of your construction gantt chart for a heat map view of the number of tasks (or hours) each person on your project is currently assigned to each day. Select any cell to see a popup of all tasks assigned to that person or label on that day.

Checking crew availablity from your construction gantt chart using Workloads in TeamGantt

Monitor important construction milestones

Every construction project has certain milestones you need to hit to ensure things are tracking in the right direction. You might set contract approvals, construction inspections, draw requests, or even phase completions as milestones on your project plan.

The construction gantt chart example below shows milestones as a yellow diamond on the gantt chart. The light blue vertical bar indicates the current date, making it easy to see that this project’s running behind schedule.

Monitoring construction project milestones in your gantt chart

Track progress against your plan with hourly estimation and time tracking

Using TeamGantt’s hourly estimation and time tracking features (available in our Pro plan) brings a powerful benefit to your project. You can see how actual work is tracking against your plan, making it easy to identify existing or potential overages.

Simply look for the thin striped line that appears in the middle of each taskbar on your gantt chart and note its color and length. 

Tracking actual time and progress vs estimates in TeamGantt

Here are the red flags to watch out for:

  • The striped line is red: This task (or group) is over-budget. More hours have been logged than were estimated for the task.
  • The striped line is longer than the progress indicated for a task: This task (or group) is at risk for overage because it’s eating up budgeted hours faster than progress is being made.

Watch this video for an up-close look at this feature—plus see 3 more easy ways you can track progress and monitor trouble spots for your construction projects.

Streamline and document construction schedule changes

Have you ever built a beautiful project schedule, only to have a customer request or construction delay put a wrench in your plan? It happens.

Adding dependencies to tasks can speed up schedule adjustments and ensure work continues to happen in the right order. If you move one task on the schedule, all the dependent tasks move right along with it.

Of course, if your construction timeline changes, you’ll need to communicate the new plan to your subcontractors and customers. Post updates and attach construction change orders to your project’s discussion tab so nothing gets lost in the mix. 

Using TeamGantt's discussion feature to document construction schedule changes

With TeamGantt’s mobile app, field crews can pull up the latest construction project schedule and get notified of changes in real time, no matter where they’re hard at work. 

Communicate and track punch list items

The final stretch of any construction project plan is full of little details as you work to knock out the punch list. Here’s an example of how you can use task subgroups in TeamGantt to keep track of all the moving pieces.

Using TeamGantt to track punch list items in your construction schedule

Simply add each fix as a task under your “Punch list” subgroup, and assign punch list items to the person responsible to avoid confusion about who’s doing what. You can even color-code punch list tasks by subcontractor. 

If subcontractors and field crews don’t have access to your construction gantt chart, use our Excel construction punch list template to share and track outstanding items.

Gather and manage closeout documents

Keeping up with all the closeout documents you’ll need to wrap up a construction job is no simple feat. It can take a lot of time and wrangling. 

TeamGantt makes it easy to store and manage construction closeout documents in a single, centralized hub. Upload a digital copy of each closeout doc to your construction project’s closeout task in your gantt chart—or create a subgroup with an itemized task for each closeout item—so all your paperwork is organized and accessible in one place.

Using file storage in TeamGantt to collect and manage closeout documents for your construction project

Create a free & flexible construction schedule for your next project!

Ready to plan a construction project of your own? Save time building your next construction schedule by using our free in-app template.

TeamGantt takes the sweat out of construction planning, scheduling, and management. And because everything happens online in real time, chasing down updates will finally be a thing of the past. 

Your team and subcontractors can even use TeamGantt’s mobile app to log their progress out in the field so you always know where your project stands. 

Sign up for a free TeamGantt account today to plan your next construction project faster!

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