CLC: Jobsite Management

by Kacey Larsen
NARI recertification credits

The success of a remodeling project hinges on the effectiveness of the lead carpenter’s jobsite management skills. This is a broad topic  covering a large set of skills that have little to do with carpentry.

How well a lead carpenter learns these skills and consistently applies them will govern his or her level of success as a lead carpenter. So what are these skills? There are seven:

  1. Maintaining an organized work site
  2. Understanding and processing all required paperwork
  3. Have a good understanding of project scheduling
  4. Understanding the costs associated with going over schedule
  5. Knowing when and how to call for the required inspections
  6. Knowing how to process change orders
  7. Controlling the punch list (if used).

The NARI Certified Lead Carpenter study guide addresses these topics in much greater detail than possible in this column, so we will detail jobsite organization.


Let’s start with administrative organization. This is not how you lay out your materials, but how you organize the business side of things. With everything a lead carpenter must manage, you have to be highly organized on the jobsite and not be overwhelmed by the paperwork and complex pieces of a construction project. What follows are some general guidelines to help you stay organized.

File box—Even if you are highly supported by technology, you will still need a file box to keep your paperwork safe. It should have tab dividers so you can separate things and locate them easily. It should have a cover that you can close to protect the contents from the weather, splashing paint or other jobsite wear-and-tear.

File system—Develop a filing system and stay with it. The system should organize your papers, bills, schedules, contracts, delivery orders, time cards, forms, worksheets and whatever else you should have in your “system.” Different colored file folders can help.

Job binder—Many remodelers use a three-ring binder for each project. Your binder(s) should be tough and rugged, and should have several tab dividers. This binder can serve as an archive for important records such as RRP documents. Don’t forget to include a three-hole punch.

On-site office—If the project is large and is going to take a number of weeks (or months) to complete, you may want to consider setting up an on-site office. Your truck is always an option; however, you might find that setting up a place to work in the garage or basement of the project site will allow you to be more organized. Sometimes—again, depending on the size of the project and the nature of the client—you can be given a spot in the home to do paperwork, make telephone calls, etc.

Time management—Good time management for lead carpenters is an absolute must. For most of us, it is a struggle every day to fit in or juggle all the things we want to do in that 24-hour period. One idea is to dedicate 15 minutes at the start or finish of each workday to do paperwork. This can take a lot of the stress out of trying to do it in starts and stops or on the fly while everything else is going on.

Lists—A list can go a long way toward organizing when it doesn’t come naturally. A great place to start is by what you want to accomplish each day Here are other ideas of lists to create:

  • What you want others to do that day—posted where the workers can easily see it. This will save time because they won’t have to keep checking back with you about what they are to do next.
  • What you need from your manager or the office
  • Questions to ask your manager, the client, subcontractors, suppliers, the architect, inspectors, etc.
  • Things to do or get done for the week
  • Things you need to get or buy
  • Critical things you dare not forget, with the critical dates or times included
  • Discrepancies in the plans, specs and/or materials ordered or delivered for the job.

It is critical to your success as a lead carpenter that you remain organized and able to find any information at a moment’s notice. With as many operations that typically take place on a remodeling project, relying on memory is not an option. If your company is moving toward being paperless, great! The recommendations above remain valid if not more so. Technology only changes the method of storage and retrieval, but the need to retain and document remains. QR

Take the NARI Recertification quiz for this article here.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More