Embedded errors in construction investments

The construction was delayed because…

As architects, we can see very few projects that have been completed on time and on budget. Troubled construction projects have dragged down companies and lost owners’ money in the crisis, causing losses of hundreds of billions of pounds a year.

If we ask why we get very different answers, but if we ask who is responsible, it is someone else.

I think it’s just the cause, the coding error is something else and the cause could be easily eliminated.

Let’s look at a well-prepared
investment in Budapest in 2020

The investor finds a project management company, which finds an architect. Concept plan, permit plan, everything goes like clockwork. The plans are nice, we’re tweaking the look a little bit, the layout, but overall they’re coming along nicely.

The design process starts with the traditional workflow, with designers working for months. The architectural and structural design is prepared. Mechanical engineering is getting included, and the machines’ power is designed by an electrical designer. We’re modern, so designers are moving the compartmental model out into IFC. They run a clash detection, and although hundreds of errors are created, they are resolved in a couple of weeks, with hundreds of hours of work.

They slip in time a little at the end because the client asks for some last-minute changes and the project manager notices a few more mistakes in the plan delivery, but if they have a good team and good communication, they have a good plan in hand at that point.

Then comes the contractor

The contractor tender starts; tender, bid, questions, answers, price comparison, BIM, not BIM, so it goes well, but the price is high. The contractors have given a number of options, which the client also sees as a good thing, as it can save a considerable amount of money. In the last round of price negotiations, after hard battles, deals are struck; the deadline is tough, but we have changed the foundation, moved two walls, replaced 3 machines, 4 materials, and 5 coverings, and now we are within budget. So let the construction begin.

Oh dear, we almost forgot, that the designer should submit a revised plan immediately, as they are already digging the foundation.

What? 2 months to do it?!

Do we have to wait for the architect to redraw the modifications and only then can the structural engineer and then the mechanical engineer follow it up, and until he is done, the electrical can’t even start? And we weren’t even running clash detections?

That you have to resize the whole system because of the machine? Does the electrical switchboard plan fail because more anemostats are needed? Are the breakthroughs in the slab needed elsewhere? But they are already manufacturing the device…

Okay, we’ll do it on the fly, with an architect’s site supervision.

And then the ordeal of construction begins, with almost 10 people standing around the prefabricated air handling element that doesn’t fit in the opening, which is not where it should be, because the original design and the new solutions were not coordinated, because the designers simply didn’t have the time or the tools to do it at that speed.

Among the sources of error coded into construction projects, the main culprits are the flow of information and poor workflow and attitude.
Troubleshooting during construction (photo: BuildEXT)

Is it the project manager’s fault? He just wanted to cut costs in the beginning, that’s his job, so he meant well. Is it the designer’s fault? Come on, he submitted a good plan, which was successfully summarised by the contractor. Is it the contractor’s fault? Ahh, without him, the problems will never be solved.

Then who is to blame?

The problem is that the systems in our buildings have become so terribly complex, that even a small change triggers an avalanche that designers can only track in months with traditional workflow. And in their minds, they still think that construction is easy and that on-site management will solve everything.

And this is true. It’s just terribly expensive and takes a long time.

OK, but is there a solution?

Imagine, yes. In our company, stories like this ended 3 years ago.

We have switched to a technology where all designers build a digital replica of the house in near real-time, in a model. If the architect moves a wall, everyone will see it in 5 minutes. If a machine is replaced, it will appear on the suspended ceiling plan. Not a week to get it through the system, but 5 minutes. The design documentation is automatically updated and exported to the construction site in a week, just by pressing the sync button. Even with a simple mobile phone, the builder can see the maze-like pipe snake and even where to build it.

Since we work with this technology,
there are no conflicting plans on site,
and the contractor understands exactly
what he needs to do.

And lo and behold; the facility that took 7 months to design is now modeled in just 2 months, and it will take 2 years to build, not just one. The project will not be delayed and there will be no extra work.

Simply because of the efficiency and speed of change tracking.

This is the new generation of design.

Csaba Livjak

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