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Constructing Without Design. Yes, It Happens More Often Than You May Think…

There are sometimes that you may think an uncomfortable situation is only happening to you, whereas the reality may shock you.

That’s what happened to me a few weeks ago when I asked a question on our Linkedin Group about starting construction without having the design in hand.

I asked that in our LinkedIn Group because i was extremely curious to see other people’s opinion in the industry. The replies from people in the industry from all over the world really worried me.

It seems that it’s more like a common practice in construction industry than an exception.

Download the Inspection & Test Plan Template (ITP) for Construction Projects – in Excel Format

In any other industry (automotive or manufacturing) that scenario would seem horrendous.

Here is a very simple example:

Imagine Toyota starting producing their new hybrid engine without finalising its design first.

It’s literally unimaginable isn’t it?

Just picture that and then ask yourself why this happens so often in construction industry.

Even a 7 year old kid would tell you that it’s impossible to build something without having a drawing in hand.

Let me be clear about something though:

In construction, designing and building happen simultaneously.

There is no large project that waits till the whole design is finished to start building on site.

But surely, for everything you actually build on site, you should have the design in hand and not just a sketch or a draft drawing that has never been formally issued to the teams or the EMDS.

In most of the times, the design has to get several approvals from the Client or other parties, so it’s a lengthy process overall.

I’ve been in projects where the Designer (and sometimes the Client) decided to change something after it was already built with (obviously) not approved or finalised design yet.

What was the result?

NCRs, unnecessary  disallowed costs and hundreds of man-hours lost in meetings, emails and endless discussions on what should be done to “correct” the unfortunate situation.

This is the moment where we all need to scrap our Quality Policies, our Quality Manuals and ISO Certificates.

This is the moment when all of our mechanisms and fancy processes become useless.

This is where our ITPs become one more paperwork exercise because the management decides to deviate from any logic and procedure.

But that’s ok and managing change must be part of our embedded culture.

The way we manage change and the way adopt to it must be our second nature.

Construction industry is probably the most old-fashioned industry in the world.

Politics still play a massive role on management’s decisions in construction (and in any industry really) and that’s fine.

The collateral damages of not pouring that slab because there is still no drawing can be massive in the microworld of a construction project.

Very often though, public and media need to see that a project is rising from the ground so that x,y politician or x,y CEO can use that as an advantage for several other reasons. Believe it or not that is still a thing everywhere in the world.

It’s a shame really that even from the ancient years construction and large projects are used to influence the public and manipulate or impress the masses but it is what it is.

As long as there is an approved design to build it, I’d be happy with it! 😀

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Pavlos Inglesis
I am a Chartered Civil Engineer (CEng-MICE) and a Chartered Quality Professional (MCQI CQP) working in the construction industry for about 20 years. My specialty is Quality Control and Quality Assurance Management in Construction Projects. I have worked on projects in the Middle East, and Greece and am now based in the UK.

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