The Gantt Chart in Construction Project Management: Understanding the Best Planning & Scheduling Tool


Gantt charts have been a fundamental project management tool for over a century, and it’s easy to understand why. They provide a visual overview of project tasks and the timeframe in which they need to be completed. Construction Gantt charts, therefore, are a natural fit.

Gantt charts in construction can be used for any number of different activities. We’ll show you how to make a Gantt chart in ProjectManager and why construction Gantt charts help deliver projects on time and within budget.

What Is a Construction Gantt Chart?

A construction Gantt chart is simply a Gantt chart used in construction. The only difference from a Gantt chart used in any other industry is that it manages construction tasks. A Gantt chart is a horizontal bar chart that’s commonly used in project management as a means to visually represent the project plan and schedule over time.

The Gantt chart in construction, like all Gantt charts, is split into two parts. On the left, there’s a typical spreadsheet. Here, the project tasks are listed, their start dates and deadlines, duration, who’s assigned to that task, other resources needed to complete the task and so on. Much of that information then automatically populates the visual timeline to the right.

In terms of construction Gantt charts, the bar chart is broken up into project phases, which makes the Gantt chart especially useful for those who manage projects in a waterfall methodology, such as construction. One phase must be completed before the next phase can begin. The bar chart part of the construction Gantt chart also includes milestones, dependencies and more.

While you can build a Gantt chart on a spreadsheet, it’s complicated and not ideal considering it needs to be updated throughout the life cycle of the project. Digital Gantt charts are more efficient. ProjectManager is award-winning project and portfolio management software with powerful Gantt charts that help construction managers deliver projects on time and within budget. Our Gantt chart links all four types of task dependencies to avoid costly delays, filters for the critical path to identify essential tasks and sets a baseline to track planned against actual effort in real time. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.

construction gantt chart showing tasks and resources
ProjectManager’s construction Gantt charts help you plan, manage and track projects in real time. Learn more

What Can a Gantt Chart Be Used for in Construction?

Construction Gantt charts are versatile project management tools. They help to plan the project but do more than just show you the whole project as a visual representation. Here are some of the many things that a construction Gantt chart can do.

Creating a Construction Schedule

The construction Gantt chart takes a project and breaks it down into smaller, manageable parts. The construction schedule is first divided into phases, which can be identified by color-coding, and within each of those project phases, there will be even smaller activities or tasks. These tasks are scheduled on the Gantt chart’s timeline, each with a start and end date.

Monitoring the Progress of Construction Activities

As the construction team logs in their time as they execute their tasks, the general contractor can monitor the progress of those tasks on the construction Gantt chart. The general contractor can also make any changes necessary to keep the project on schedule.

Estimating the Total Duration of a Construction Project

Because a construction Gantt chart breaks the larger project into smaller phases and tasks and estimates the duration of those tasks, when done, the general contractor will have an accurate estimate of the total duration of the project. This will help inform the budget, resources and more.

Identifying Task Dependencies

When scheduling tasks on a construction Gantt chart, some might have dependencies. A task dependency is when one task can’t start or finish before another task is started or finished. Not identifying these task dependencies can lead to costly delays that can eat into your profit margin. Construction Gantt charts can link these task dependencies to make sure a new task can only start after another is completed or started, whatever the case may be.

Finding the Critical Path of a Project

The critical path is a sequence of tasks that can delay the completion of the project if any of those tasks are delayed. They are essential tasks that must be completed on time to deliver the project as scheduled. Critical path tasks can be plotted on a Gantt chart and some Gantt chart construction software products will filter the critical path for you.

Allocating Resources and Tracking Resource Allocation

Construction Gantt charts are useful for planning tasks and properly allocating the resources necessary to complete those tasks. This includes human resources, such as team members, and nonhuman resources, such as equipment, raw materials, etc. Some Gantt chart construction software will visualize resource allocation by showing the percentage of a resource’s time that is allocated to different tasks. This can help track resource allocation and identify under-allocation of resources.

Gantt chart template featured image

Get your free

Gantt Chart Template

Use this free Gantt Chart Template for Excel to manage your projects better.


How to Make a Construction Gantt Chart With ProjectManager

ProjectManager has powerful Gantt charts. Get started with ProjectManager by taking a 30-day free trial. Then you can use one of our industry-specific templates to get started or create a Gantt chart from scratch. It’s easy. Just follow these five simple steps.

1. Open the Gantt View

Start by creating a new project. Then go to the Gantt chart icon on the top of your page. You’ll notice that there are multiple project views, including kanban boards, lists, calendar and sheet views. Once you’ve made your construction Gantt chart, you can view the plan on any of these project views, which means your team can execute their work how they want.

construction gantt chart new project window

Instead of starting a project from scratch, we’ll use the construction schedule template. This facilitates the process of creating a construction Gantt chart. Simply replace the data in ProjectManager’s Gantt chart with your construction schedule information.

construction gantt chart schedule template by ProjectManager

2. Add Project Tasks, Duration and Due Dates to the Construction Gantt Chart Spreadsheet on the Left Side

On the left-hand side spreadsheet, you can list your project tasks, one per row. In the next columns, add the duration for each task, including its start and end dates. You’ll notice as you do this that the visual project timeline on the right will automatically populate with your tasks. If you already have a task list in an Excel spreadsheet, CVS file or Microsoft Project file, you can upload that to ProjectManager and it will fill the Gantt chart with that data.

Construction Gantt chart showing a list of project tasks, their duration and due dates

3. Add Team Members to the Project

Now you want to onboard your team. It’s easy. All you have to do is invite them to the project. At this point, you can set their availability. This includes any PTO, vacation time and even global holidays. By doing so, assigning the team to tasks will be easier.

4. Estimate Costs & Resource Utilization for Each Task

For each task, there are associated costs that you’ve estimated. Add those costs to each of your tasks. You can estimate costs by using our construction Gantt chart to base those estimates on how many team members are assigned to the task. Your labor costs are also updated on our secure timesheets.

construction Gantt chart showing cost and resource utilization for each project task

5. Adjust Your Project Schedule as Needed

After you’ve created a construction plan on our Gantt chart, you’ll want to monitor the progress as you move into the execution phase of the project. You can see what your team is working on as they update their status. As you monitor the project’s progress, you can make changes to your schedule as needed to stay on track.

Benefits of Using Gantt Charts in Construction Projects

It should be clear by now how important Gantt charts are in planning, managing and tracking construction projects. But there’s no harm in reiterating those benefits.

  • Visualize the Project Timeline: Construction project Gantt charts show you the entire project in one place. You can see how tasks impact other tasks, the duration of each task, phase and the project itself. Having a visual timeline makes it easy to see how to better allocate resources, track progress and communicate.
  • Breaks Down the Project Scope Into Individual Tasks: Construction projects are large and often complicated. Construction Gantt charts can take what would otherwise be overwhelming and break it down into manageable parts. By taking the full scope of the project and separating it into individual tasks, you can deliver the project on time and within budget.
  • Helps Employees Keep Track of Their Deliverables and Due Dates: Construction Gantt charts help general contractors and construction project managers monitor their team and subcontractors. Many Gantt charts indicate progress by shading the bar that indicates the task. The more shaded, the closer to completion. This allows managers to track deliverables and make sure teams are meeting their due dates.

Construction Gantt Chart Example

Let’s take a look at how an actual construction project would appear in a Gantt chart. Below you can see how the project has been broken down into phases, such as contract, design, procurement, construction and post-construction. Under each phase are the different tasks, their duration, priority and more.

ProjectManager's Gantt chart with construction resource costs

In the next construction Gantt chart example, you’ll see a close-up of the bar chart part of the construction Gantt chart. You can see the tasks represented as bars and the progress shown by how much of the bar is shaded. The diamond icon represents the milestone marking the end of the design phase and the beginning of the procurement phase.

ProjectManager's construction Gantt chart timeline

Construction Gantt Chart Template

If you’re not ready to upgrade to project management software, you can download our free construction Gantt chart template for Excel. This construction schedule template automatically generates a Gantt chart diagram based on your project scheduling information. All you’ll need to do is add your project tasks, due dates and duration.

In addition, we have over 100 free project management templates for Excel and Word that cover every aspect of a project and industry-specific templates, such as for construction, manufacturing and more.

Gantt chart template

ProjectManager Helps Deliver Successful Construction Projects

If you’re going to use a Gantt chart in construction, you’ll want to have project management software that has multiple project views and other features that can help you deliver your project on time and within budget. ProjectManager is award-winning project and portfolio management software that helps you plan, manage and track projects in real time.

Plan your construction projects on our powerful Gantt charts and then share them with your subcontractors who can execute their work on kanban borders, task lists, sheet or calendar views. All project views update together and reflect on the Gantt chart to give general contractors an overview of the project’s progress.

Manage Resources and Labor Costs

Scheduling your construction project is one thing, executing it another. There will be issues, changes and other risks inherent in managing any project. Being able to stay on the schedule you created on your construction Gantt chart requires managing your resources.

Our color-coded workload chart lets you see how your team is allocated. Then you can balance their workload to keep them working at capacity and productive. Our secure timesheets streamline the payroll process but also allow you to have an eye on labor costs to ensure that you deliver the project as budgeted and keep your profit margin.

ProjectManager's workload chart
Track Progress With Real-Time Dashboards

Another way to ensure that you stay on schedule is by monitoring your progress. You can get a high-level overview of the project with our real-time dashboards. They automatically collect live project data and display it on easy-to-read graphs and charts that show metrics such as time, cost and more. It’s like a status report wherever you want one.

Unlike lightweight alternatives, there’s no time-consuming and complicated setup. Just toggle over to our dashboard. If you need more detail, there are customizable reports on status, variance, timesheets, workload and more. Filter them to show only what you want to see and then share them with stakeholders to keep them informed.

Construction dashboard in ProjectManager

Related Construction Project Management Templates

If you’re not ready to upgrade, we have many free construction project management templates that can help you manage your project. There are over 100 project management templates for Excel and Word that cover all phases of a project across many industries. Here are a few for construction.

Punch List Template

To make sure you’ve met the specifications of your contract and completed everything necessary to deliver the construction project, use our free punch list template for Excel. It describes the work, its location, priority, dates observed, expected completion and approval.

Construction Estimate Template

Before you can break ground on a construction project, you have to win the bid. Our free construction estimate template for Excel helps you accurately price the work for every phase of the project to ensure that you make your profit margin.

Construction Schedule Template

Our construction schedule template opens in our software to give you more control over your project than static templates can provide. You can schedule work, manage resources, find the critical path, create a budget and much more.

ProjectManager is online project and portfolio management software that connects teams whether they’re in the office, on the job site or anywhere else. They can share files, comment at the task level and stay updated with email and in-app notifications. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.