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Mistakes in Concrete Construction will happen.

In my years at Northern Concrete Construction, I have been fortunate to have been a part of many aspects in the company. Estimating, sales, operations, and the list continues. At times I covered multiple roles at the same time. One thing that I have learned from the various roles is that mistakes will happen. It can happen in estimating – rebar spacing is 1’ vs. 3’; it can happen in the field – ordering concrete too early causing chaos on the jobsite and something is overlooked. Whatever the case, there will be times when something doesn’t go right. Last week, we had a situation where we had some retaining walls that weren’t up to par. It was clear that they didn’t meet our customer’s standards much less our standards. We dealt with it quickly and resolved the issue. Here is an e-mail that I received from the customer:

Good afternoon Mike,
Just got back from the site and had an opportunity to talk with Zac. The re-poured retaining walls look great……we appreciate your diligence removing the round one walls and re-pouring the retaining walls as quickly as you did.
No, it does not affect our confidence in you…….we know Northern does high quality work. We all make mistakes on projects…’s how these issues are addressed and corrected that make a difference.

What have I learned about mistakes?

  • Some mistakes are very minor; have material on the job site in case it requires a little patching or grinding of a foundation. Get to it fast and many times it goes unnoticed.
  • Let the customer know before they find out from someone else. A phone call right away can make a huge difference.


  • Remember, a complaint is a gift. It’s an opportunity to let a customer vent and share concerns. I believe this is the most important part of the process. Become defensive and your chance of reaching a reasonable solution will decrease. Let the customer know that you understand their concern and would like to work to a solution.
  • Work out a solution quickly and be specific as to the remedy and time frame.
  • Get multiple perspectives from others in your company. Everyone sees through a different set of glasses and multiple opinions will serve you well.


  • There are times when you have to stand your ground. In situations like this, have all of your facts available and make your position known. I like to do a heart check before making this decision. Really look at the entire situation and ask yourself is this the right thing to do? Your heart rarely steers you wrong.

Here are a couple of things that can help prevent mistakes:

  • Create processes for every position.
  • Create processes for every type of work i.e. commercial slabs, basement slabs, etc…
  • Have after action reviews after every project to go over the project highs and lows.
  • Communication, communication, and more communication.

See more about The Northern Concrete Process at