Why do projects delay

Why Projects Delay: with Matt Verderamo

Matt Verderamo is Vice President, Preconstruction & Sales at Alliance Exterior Construction in Baltimore, Maryland. Alliance is a specialty subcontractor focusing on glazing, metal panels, and roofing.

Matt is also a proponent of mental health and career growth in the construction industry. Follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter, and check out his website here (mattverderamo.me)

Our discussion with Matt is Why do Projects Delay.


In his national best-selling book, “Atomic Habits”, James Clear describes the importance of upstream habits.

Let’s say you want to eat healthy.

Clear would argue that one of the best ways to ensure you do that is to create an “upstream habit” that influences the behavior.

For him, it is all about a morning workout.

When he works out in the morning, he finds that he is more likely to eat healthy! He doesn’t need to try to eat healthy, he just needs to make sure he works out, and then he naturally wants to eat healthy! This morning workout also influences his alcohol intake, stress levels, and overall health.

This is the benefit of an “upstream habit”: it is a simple habit that influences a lot of other good habits downstream.

When I think about Construction projects and why they delay, I think about this same “upstream” mindset.

Construction projects don’t delay because of one sub missing their submittal deadline, or one owner’s rep missing an important email, or one architect taking too long to return a submittal. They delay because of thousands of small “upstream” actions that aggregate into bigger problems that delay the project downstream.

In my opinion, if we want to overcome these types of delays, then more and more time, money, and energy need to go into the Preconstruction phase of the project.

There needs to be more incentives for doing good paperwork, more collaboration between stakeholders, and more investment into architect, engineer, and GC fees. In other words, develop healthier “upstream habits” that lead to more effective downstream results.

It’s really easy for me to say all of this when I’m not the one holding the purse as an owner, and I realize that, but I truly believe that this early investment will pay for itself over the course of the project.

Skyline Facades: Matt, when I asked you the question, I had in mind a more conventional answer related to projects delay. I really love your point of view; it does put the issue in a different framework. What would you think hinders the whole process from this “upstream mindset”?

Matt: I think the focus on initial cost vs. project life-cycle cost hinders the upstream mindset. Humans like to have the lowest initial price without realizing it may not lead to the lowest final project cost.

Skyline: You mention above the need for more collaboration between stakeholders. From your experience, in the majority of the projects you have worked, do you feel the mentality of teamwork between stakeholders or it is more of a “power and muscles” relationship between the parties?

Matt: It depends on the project. One thing is for sure: it trickles down from the top. When an owner is collaborative, the whole project is collaborative. When the owner is hard, the project is usually hard.

Skyline: How many times have you really listened the phrase “we screwed up” from any project stakeholder instead of just putting the blame to others?

Matt: I hear people say it a good amount. Realists know that construction comes with its fair share of mistakes. It’s just how the industry works!

Skyline: What is the point when you simply say “ok, this project is not for me” and you just step away?

Matt: Usually when the client doesn’t do what they say they’re going to do more than one time. Usually after 2 or 3 instances where they make a promise that they don’t keep, I know I can’t trust them throughout the project either.

Skyline: What’s your mantra for today?

Matt: I will be kind, compassionate, and caring with myself.