Tighter Lending Impacts Apartment Construction
Green Living Moves into the Mainstream
Aged-Care Developments Reaching New Heights
Smart Cranes are Transforming the Jobsite
The Shaping of Australia's Future Cities Through Urban Renewal
The True Spirit of the Gold Coast
Timber Software Helping Aussie Builders Branch Out
To Ban or Not to Ban: Grappling with Composite Cladding Rules
By Duane Craig
August 29, 2016
There are several construction industry initiatives related to collaboration. These mainly focus on broad aspects of collaboration. There are efforts on modularization, Building Information Modeling (BIM), lean construction, interoperability, and education on advanced construction planning. But initiatives specifically focused on transforming the industry-wide things that hamper collaboration, are nonexistent. This suggests the transformation will need to happen with individual businesses at the project level.
All construction projects begin competitively during the bidding stage. But new thoughts on delivering construction projects efficiently suggest that the competition should end when the bidding is done. Unfortunately, new competition arises after the owner awards the contract. People then go into defensive mode and focus solely on their own self interests. This deals a major blow to collaboration, and starts people down the path of paying more attention to self-interest than the interests of the project.
There is ample evidence the construction industry could benefit from better collaboration among project participants. Some of that evidence comes from research on the benefits of lean construction.
High percentages of contractors who use lean construction practices say they get higher quality construction, greater customer satisfaction, greater productivity, and improved safety. But, there is a disconnect between the contractors who use lean practices and those who don't. For example, 55% of construction companies that are not familiar with Lean practices consider their current construction processes to be either efficient or highly efficient. However, 62% of construction firms using lean practices consider traditional processes as either inefficient or highly inefficient.
The biggest obstacle to getting more companies in construction to use lean practices, is a lack of knowledge about lean methods by others in the industry. Meanwhile, those who don't practice lean techniques say there is a lack of industry support, and there's a lack of understanding about just what lean is.
Lean construction is only one of several collaborative approaches to construction projects. BIM, Integrated Project Delivery, prefabrication, and some recent variations on traditional project delivery methods like design-bid-build and target value design have collaboration as a prime tenant. All of these efforts seek to move construction from an adversarial process to a cooperative one.
For the industry to build a collaborative culture, it needs to change the ways it discourages collaboration. And that begins with construction contracts because very often contracts use language that benefits some participants over others. If project participants must agree to pay for other's mistakes without reciprocity, then they are more likely to adopt a defensive position. When people feel threatened, and as though others are taking advantage of them, they are unlikely to collaborate in the spirit of helping others to complete a quality project.
The other way the industry discourages a collaborative culture is through project delivery methods that discourage collaboration. Fixed price and lump sum bids not only fail to recognize the realities of delivering complex projects with multiple participants, but they also encourage a defensive stance from everyone involved right from the start.
When contractors and subcontractors aren’t involved with the design and scope stages of the project, it loses a very important aspect of collaboration. As the building stage proceeds and the unavoidable design issues arise, participants start to resent the changes because they see that they were preventable. So, collaboration on construction projects is about far more than simply how the participants communicate and share information. It’s really about the heart of the methods you use to build something.
Other hindrances to an industry culture of collaboration include entrenched business attitudes, political and economic values, and even deeply held beliefs that have been reinforced by experience. These take much longer and more effort to change, but they do shift, especially when you address issues of security and trust.
Regardless of industry culture and entrenched mindsets, there are companies that are exploring the benefits of exceptional collaboration, and they are succeeding. So it really does fall to each construction business to set out on their own path to better collaboration.
A more collaborative culture in the construction industry is unlikely to evolve at an industry level because there is little incentive. But at the project level, it’s a totally different picture.
The Anatomy of a Request for Information (RFI)
The widest used rating system for green building is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). It’s no surprise, then, that major U.... Read More
July 1, 2018
Hear Brad Hyatt, Associate Professor at California State University Fresno, discuss what students are learning in school to prepare them for const... Read More
Budget. Schedule. Quality. The trifecta of a project. But balancing that trifecta isn't easy to do. Our webinar, led by construction industry exper... Read More
Building in the "Big Easy" sometimes isn't. The challenges faced by Landis Construction aren't often understood by out-of-towners, because when it'... Read More
The acquisition and maintenance of heavy machinery is a major expense for any size company, so it stands to reason that equipment is worth taking s... Read More
Estimating mistakes cost contractors plenty. And, with the demand from customers for estimates on-the-fly, the chances of missing the mark increase... Read More
In all big construction projects, time is money, and few projects drag along as painfully slow as high-rise buildings. A new method of construction... Read More
June 25, 2018