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.

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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. Just picture that and then ask yourself why this happen 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 because people got confused when I asked that on Linkedin:

In construction, designing and building happens in parallel.

You never have the design of the whole project when you start building on site.

But for everything you 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

And most of the times, the design has to get several approvals from the Client or other parties.

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 where all of our mechanisms and fancy processes become useless.

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

But…why the management decides to proceed like this?

Does that make any sense ?

It does. A lot of sense, actually.

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

Politics still play a massive role on management’s decisions…

The collateral damages of not pouring that slab because there is still no drawing can be massive.

Very often, people need to see that project rising from the ground so that x,y politician or x,y CEO can use that as an advantage for x.y reasons.

But let’s be honest… This was always part of the equation.

Everybody is aware of that.

So…it all comes down to extremely poor planning and narrow minded decision makers, isn’t 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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