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Improving Building Performance

through Integrating Constructability

in the Design Process

Ayman Ahmed Ezzat Othman

Architectural Engineering Department,
Faculty of Engineering, the British
University in Egypt, Egypt

DOI 10.5592/otmcj.2011.2.6 The traditional procurement approaches commonly adopted in

Research paper
construction projects and the involvement of multitude of vari-
ous project participants with diverse objectives, skills and inter-
ests tended to separate design from construction. This separa-
tion obstructs contractors from providing designers with construction
feedback and suggestions for design improvement, which ultimately
hampers the improvement of building performance. Because of the im-
portance of the design phase and the vital role played by contractors in
the construction industry, this paper aims to investigate the integration
of construction knowledge and contractor’s experience in the design
process as an approach for improving building performance. In order
to achieve this aim, a research methodology is designed to accomplish
four objectives. Firstly, reviewing the nature of the construction indus-
try; constructability; architecture and the design process and measuring
building performance. Secondly, presenting case studies of successful
projects benefited from applying the concept of constructability dur-
ing the design process. Thirdly, developing an innovative framework
to facilitate the integration of construction knowledge and contractor’s
experience in the design process and establishing the strategies that
support its application. Finally, summarising research conclusions and
recommendations useful to construction professionals and further re-
search. Findings of the research showed that integrating the concept of
constructability during the design process improves building perform-
ance (e.g. reducing construction time, cost and waste as well as improv-
ing quality and productivity) and enhances the relationships between
project participants. The research adds a valuable contribution to the
built environment body of knowledge through presenting a practical ap-
proach for integrating construction knowledge and contractor’s experi-
ence in the design process.

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Keywords INTRODUCTION in construction projects and the large
constructability, design The construction industry is one of the number of organisations, with different
biggest industries worldwide. It has and sometime conflicting objectives,
management, design
significant contributions towards social skills and interests took part in creating
process, partnering,
and economic development at national a fragmentation and adversarial rela-
performance, quality. and international levels. It provides tionship between project participants,
communities with places for housing, which eventually obstructed contrac-
education, culture, health care, busi- tors from providing designers with con-
ness, leisure and entertainment. In ad- struction comments and feedback to
dition, it constructs the infrastructure improve the building design (Motsa et
projects that are essential for these al. 2008). Professional fragmentation
facilities to perform their intended func- in construction has become the theme
tions. Furthermore, it increases the of many research studies carried out
gross domestic product (GDP), moti- globally. This has triggered the emer-
vates development of other industries gence of the concepts of ‘Buildability’
that support the construction process and ‘Constructability’. Although both
such as building materials and con- terms are used interchangeably, buil-
struction equipment as well as offers dability refers to the extent to which a
employment opportunities. On the building design facilitates ease of con-
other hand, the construction industry struction whilst other clients’ require-
is arguably one of the most resource- ments are met. It focuses on the design
intensive and environmentally damag- of a building. In contrast, constructabil-
ing industries worldwide. Construction ity, which embraces both design and
accounts for 40% of the total flow of management functions, is concerned
raw materials into the global economy with a wider scope than ‘buildability’. It
every year. It is a substantial source of deals with the project management sys-
waste, pollution and land dereliction tems that optimally use construction
(Earth watch Institute 2011, Roodman knowledge and experience to enhance
and Lenssen 1995). Anink et al. (1996) efficient project delivery. Particularly,
stated that the construction sector is benefits become apparent when con-
responsible for 50% of material re- structability is considered at the earli-
sources taken from nature, 40% of est possible stages (Wong et al. 2006).
energy consumption and 50% of total The importance of the design process
waste generated. Virtually, all modern as many critical decisions are made dur-
buildings now have artificial heating or ing this phase (e.g., material selection,
cooling systems and sometimes both. standard components, construction
Large amounts of energy are wasted in methods) and the key role played by
constructing, heating and cooling large contractors as the entity responsible for
and impressive glass cladding sky- delivering the designed facility, called
scrapers particularly in sunny, hot and for the early involvement of contractors
humid countries (Architectural Review in the design process as an approach
1995, Abdellatif and Othman 2006). for improving building performance.
Furthermore, the construction industry
is plagued with a number of problems
that limits achieving its optimum out- Research aim and objectives
put. One of these important problems The aim of this paper is to investigate
is the creation of division between the integration of construction knowl-
designers and contractors through edge and contractor’s experience in
separating design from construction the design process as an approach for
(Field and Ofori 1988, Othman 2007, improving building performance. In or-
Mthalane et al. 2008). The traditional der to achieve this aim, four objectives
procurement approaches usually used have to be accomplished:

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▶ Building a thorough background of constructability in the design process from the construction knowledge and
the study topic through reviewing the as an approach for improving building experience of other project participants,
state-of-the-art relating to the nature performance, an innovative framework particularly contractors. Hence, design
of the construction industry; con- is developed and the strategies that mistakes, incompatible drawings, lack
structability; architecture and the de- support its application are established. of details, inefficient construction meth-
sign process and measuring building Because of the importance of validity ods, specification ambiguity and errors
performance. and reliability, this research depended are repeated which obstruct improving
▶ Presenting a number of case studies on facts rather than subjective informa- building performance on the long run.
of successful projects improved their tion which increased the reliability and
performance through integrating con- validity of collected data and research
struction knowledge and contractor’s findings. Constructability
experience in the design process. Definitions and Concept Development
▶ Developing an innovative framework The Construction Industry Institute (CII
to facilitate the integration of con- Literature review 1987) defined Constructability as the
struction knowledge and contractor’s The Nature of the Construction Industry optimum integration of construction
experience in the design process and The construction industry is a dynamic knowledge and experience in planning,
establishing the strategies that sup- and ever-expanding business. It plays design, procurement, and field opera-
port its application. a significant role towards supporting tions to achieve overall project objec-
▶ Outlining the research conclusions governments and international or- tives and improve building perform-
and recommendations useful for con- ganisations to achieve their social and ance. Constructability, which is also
struction professionals and further economic development programmes. known as Buildability in the UK, is a
research. On the other hand and due to its na- project management technique that en-
ture, construction is a complex, risky, compasses a detailed review of design
fragmented industry and has nega- drawings, models, specifications, and
Research methodology tive impacts to the environment. It is a construction processes by one or more
The research methodology designed to time-consuming process that consists highly experienced construction engi-
achieve the abovementioned aim and of thousand of interrelated design, con- neers or specialists, working with the
objectives, consisted of three interre- struction and operation activities. Con- project team before a project is put out
lated activities, namely data collection, struction is characterised by high capital for bids and also prior to construction
data analysis and action required. Dur- investment, reliance on developers and mobilization (Douglas and Gransberg
ing the data collection activity, different subcontractors, an extensive and com- 2009). It helps identifying obstacles be-
sources are used to accomplish the first plex regulatory framework, high inter- fore a project is actually built to reduce
and second objectives. This included est costs and competition. In addition, or prevent errors, delays, wastes and
textbooks, academic journals, confer- increasing client expectations coupled cost overrun. Constructability focuses
ence proceedings, dissertations and with the technological development of the team on maximizing the simplicity,
thesis, government publications and materials and equipment as well as the economy, and speed of construction,
related websites. In addition, creative impact of internal and external influ- while considering the site conditions,
case studies of successful projects are ences made the construction industry code restrictions, and client require-
presented to show the benefits of in- subject to more risks than any other ments (Aeck and Ruby 2006) which
tegrating construction knowledge and industry (Othman et al. 2004, Othman increases the probability of project suc-
contractor’s experience during the de- and Harinarain 2009). Furthermore, the cess, reduce construction waste and im-
sign process. They included the re-de- involvement of multitude of participants prove building performance.
sign of the structural system of Lansing (e.g. clients, architects, engineers, con-
Community College, Michigan, USA and tractors, labours) with different objec- The concept of Constructability was
the integration of contractor in the de- tives, skills and interests coupled with first emerged in UK and USA during the
sign of Cannon beach residence project the traditional procurement approach late 1970’s as a result of studies aimed
Oregon, USA. Collected data was ana- which separates design from construc- to maximize the efficiency, productiv-
lysed qualitatively through focusing on tion and creates a division between ity, cost effectiveness and quality in the
the contractor’s contribution, methods designers and contractors, made the construction industry. Researchers in
and timing of integration during the construction industry a highly frag- the UK had initially focused their atten-
design process. As an action for facili- mented business. This inhibited the de- tion on the design process and the early
tating the integration of the concept of sign team from utilising and benefiting involvement of construction expertise.

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Later on, researchers tended to enlarge in action. In the 1990s, Singapore in- Constructability Concepts
the scope by encompassing manage- troduced the first assessment system 23 concepts have been developed by
ment practices and procurement ap- for buildability of designs. These stud- Nima et al. (2001) to enhance and facili-
proaches as contributors to the build- ies and actions showed that the lack of tate the adoption and application of the
ability and constructability concepts. In integration of construction knowledge constructability philosophy throughout
the US, the CII promoted the concept of into the design process was considered the different phases of the construction
constructability and formulated guide- as one of the main reasons for projects process (see Tables 1, 2 &3)
lines for implementation. Likewise, CII exceeding their budgets and schedule
Australia proposed 12 principles for deadlines (Trigunarsyah 2004, Wong et
putting the concept of constructability al. 2006).

Table 1: Constructability Enhancement Concepts during Conceptual Planning Phase

The project constructability programme should be discussed and documented within the project execution plan, through
Concept C1
the participation of all project team members.

A project team that includes representatives of the owner, engineer and contractor should be formulated and maintained
Concept C2
to take the constructability issue into consideration from the outset of the project and through all of its phases.

Individuals with current construction knowledge and experience should achieve the early project planning so that
Concept C3
interference between design and construction can be avoided.

The construction methods should be taken into consideration when choosing the type and the number of contracts
Concept C4
required for executing the project.

The master project schedule and the construction completion date should be construction-sensitive and should be
Concept C5
assigned as early as possible.
In order to accomplish the field operations easily and efficiently, major construction methods should be discussed and
Concept C6 analysed in-depth as early as possible to direct the design according to these methods. This could include recovery and
recycling methods as well as sustainable and final disposal planning.
Site layout should be studied carefully so that construction, operation and maintenance can be performed efficiently, and
Concept C7
to avoid interference between the activities performed during these phases.

Table 2: Constructability Enhancement Concepts During Design and Procurement Phases

Design and procurement schedules should be dictated by construction sequence. Thus, the construction schedule must
Concept C8
be discussed and developed prior to the design development and procurement schedule.
Advanced information technologies are important to any field including the construction industry. Therefore, the use
Concept C9 of those technologies will overcome the problem of fragmentation into specialized roles in this field, and enhance
Designs, through design simplification by designers and design review by qualified construction personnel, must be
Concept C10
configured to enable efficient construction. This will help minimise material waste, recycling and cost-effectiveness.

Concept C11 Project elements should be standardized to an extent that will never affect the project cost negatively.

The project technical specifications should be simplified and configured to achieve efficient construction without
Concept C12
sacrificing the level or the efficiency of the project performance.
The implementation of modularization and preassembly for project elements should be taken into consideration and
Concept C13 studied carefully. Modularization and preassembly design should be prepared to facilitate fabrication, transportation
and installation.
Project design should take into consideration the accessibility of construction personnel, materials and equipment to
Concept C14
the required position inside the site.
Design should facilitate construction during adverse weather conditions. Efforts should be made to plan for the
Concept C15 construction of the project under suitable weather conditions; otherwise, the designer must increase the project
elements that could be prefabricated in workshops.

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Table 3: Constructability Enhancement Concepts During Field Operations Phases

Field tasks sequencing should be configured in order to minimize damages or rework of some project elements,
Concept C16
minimize scaffolding needs, formwork used, or congestion of construction personnel, material and equipment.
Innovation in temporary construction materials/systems, or implementing innovative ways of using available
Concept C17 temporary construction materials/systems that have not been defined or limited by the design drawings and technical
specifications will contribute positively to the enhancement of constructability.
Incorporating innovation of new methods in using off-the-shelf hand tools, or modification of the available tools, or
Concept C18 introduction of a new hand tools that reduce labour intensity, increase mobility, safety or accessibility will enhance
constructability at the construction phase.
Introduction of innovative methods for using the available equipment or modification of the available equipment to
Concept C19
increase their productivity will lead to a better constructability.

In order to increase the productivity, reduce the need for scaffolding, or improve the project constructability under
Concept C20
adverse weather conditions, constructors should be encouraged to use any optional preassembly.

Concept C21 Constructability will be enhanced by encouraging the constructor to carry out innovation of temporary facilities.

Good contractors, based on quality and time, should be documented, so that contracts for future construction works
Concept C22
would not be awarded based on low bids only, but by considering other project attributes, i.e. quality and time.

Evaluation, documentation and feedback of the issues of the constructability concepts should be maintained
Concept C23
throughout the project to be used in later projects as lessons learned.

Constructability Awareness Techniques Used in improve the quality of a project prior to

and Reviews in Design Firms Constructability Reviews entering the construction phase. A major
Two international studies by Arditi There are a number of techniques used advantage of peer reviews is benefitted
et al. (2002) in the United States in construability reviews. Douglas and from the accumulated construction ex-
and Motsa et al. (2008) in South Af- Gransberg (2009) mentioned in their perience to uncover and correct design
rica found that most design firms are study that ‘‘peer review’’ and ‘‘feedback inconsistencies and specify alternative
aware and perceive the concept of systems’’ are the most popular tools construction methods that the designer
constructability with 95.7% and 84% used in conducting constructability may not be familiar with. The feedback
respectively. 50.7% of respondents in reviews in design firms with 88% and process involves the capture and trans-
the United States indicated that they 87%, respectively (see Figure 1). This is fer of past lessons learned using either
have a formalized corporate philoso- because government authorities (e.g. hard copy records or multimedia tools.
phy about constructability in their the city of Boston) mandate peer reviews In the latter, the computer tool captures,
organizations. Where in South Africa, for specific contracts and before issuing records, and stores constructability con-
76% of the design firms indicated that building permits for complex projects. cepts and lessons learned, while provid-
they required contractors’ experience There are two types of peer reviews, ing design professionals with easy ac-
in their design because contractors namely project management and project cess and graphical retrieval of concepts
have better knowledge about ma- design. The first focuses on the planning and lessons to deepen their understand-
terial availability and appropriate or management aspects of a project; ing of constructability issues (Multime-
technology that affects design and whereas the latter evaluates the tech- dia Constructability Tool 1998 cited in
cost. In their survey, Uhlik and Lores nical aspects of a project. Peer reviews Arditi et al. 2002).
(1998) indicated that 90% of general may involve both of these reviews to
contractors surveyed did not have
formal constructability programmes,
nor did they take action towards the
implementation of constructability
programmes. There seem to be more
explicit constructability programmes
in design firms than in construction
companies. This is probably caused
by the general belief that constructa-
bility review is particularly valuable
in the design phase (Zimmerman and
Hart 1982, Burati et al 1992).
Figure 1: Constructability Review Techniques

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Small-scale physical models are con- time considerations. It is worth men- When to Apply
sidered the least common tool used in tioning here that design firms utilize Constructability Reviews?
constructability analysis. This finding various different tools in their pursuit Because of its ability to improve build-
indicates that this once popular tool of constructability, depending on the ing performance, constructability could
used to visualize the project is on its characteristics of the projects under- be applied at any phase of the project
way to becoming obsolete except for taken. Other techniques included dis- life cycle. But due to the different na-
highly sophisticated structures like cussions with contractors, clients, and ture of every phase in terms of the in-
petrochemical plants. Design firms suppliers; quality assurance/quality volved parties, technical requirements,
appear to rely more on computer gen- control after each design stage; the inputs, tools and techniques as well as
erated models to pursue constructa- construction manager participating in expected output, the potential contri-
bility of design than building physical design reviews; and design checklist bution of constructability varies (see
models, probably because of cost and reviews. Table 4) (Douglas and Gransberg 2009)

Table 4: Constructability Contributions During Project Phases

Project Phase Phase Characteristics and Constructability Contribution

Often clients of projects do not have any “in-house” capability for construction services, so they procure the services
of a consulting firm to perform the initial “feasibility phase” constructability review. The consulting firm works from
the preliminary design documents and provides useful suggestions (e.g., selecting sustainable and recyclable
materials, reducing design complexity, etc.) that are incorporated into the design package. The focus of a feasibility
Feasibility Phase phase constructability review is to generate alternatives that can be expanded by conceptual design decisions in
a manner that permits the necessary financial and schedule considerations for each alternative to be determined
with the requisite degree of certainty by cost engineering specialists or equivalent. Essentially, the constructability
reviewer/consultant will furnish the client with options that were not contemplated by the designer. The results of the
constructability review can literally make or break a project’s viability.

As the architects/engineers develop the project design; the client typically retains a second team of specialists
who specialize in providing construction management (CM) services. The constructability review takes place as the
construction documents are being developed. This CM team will perform a detailed constructability review (CR) of the
proposed project documents: design drawings, technical specifications including specified construction materials,
Early Design
the proposed site layout and if available; the construction cost estimate and project milestone schedule. This review
effort will focus on whether the project can be built as designed. This CM/CR team effort will provide suggestions on
ways to improve the project: such as a more efficient site layout, alternate construction materials including recycled
ones, identifies possibly detrimental design specifications that could result in long lead time procurements or exotic
construction techniques, using standard components as well as ease of design and disassembly.

When the overall project design is approximately 60%-90% complete, the client retains a construction management
firm to prepare the project for the procurement phase that prepares the subcontracts and procurement bid packages,
pre-qualification of vendors, suppliers and trade contractors. These procurement bid packages must be complete
design packages in order to provide the qualified bidders with the information necessary to make intelligent cost
proposals for the overall success of the project. During the subcontractor procurement process, after receipt of the
request for proposal (RFP), the various bidding contractors will normally conduct their own constructability reviews
prior to bidding. Constructability clarification questions are frequently transmitted to the client’s representative who
provides additional information about site conditions, ambiguous or missing construction details, and often the
bidding contractors may propose alternate construction methods for consideration.

Constructability continues to be a viable tool for the success of the project after the award of the major contracts
and purchase orders. For example, a mechanical contractor, employing constructability reviews, may determine that
certain piping components could be fabricated in their shop and economically transported by truck to the project site,
thereby improving both labour productivity and reduce the field costs for that large component of the work on a project.
The client, the engineer, and the CM must remember that trade subcontractors are the technical experts in their
field and must include construction contract language that encourages constructability improvement suggestions as
well as requests for material and means substitutions. The submittal review process must be established to identify
potential constructability improvements and then analyze the impact of implementing them on both project budget
and schedule.
Constructability does not end when the project is completed. Often the project participants are in a hurry to close out
the project and move on to another assignment. Either there is happiness over the success of the project, or there is a
After Action
strong desire to put their bad experiences behind them and move on. In either case, there should be a formal review
to capture the constructability lessons learned on the project. The corporation should establish a constructability

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The integration of the concept of con- project participants can contribute Constructability Reviews
structability throughout the project life more than others towards achieving and Procumbent Methods
cycle is supported by Arditi et al. (2002) constructability objectives. In addition, There are a number of procurement
who indicated that 87% of the surveyed time constrains, client encouragement methods used in construction projects
design firms used constructability re- and participant’s willingness could be namely traditional routes (e.g. design-
views during the developed design other reasons to be considered. bid-build) and non-traditional routes
stage. In addition, Motsa et al. (2008)
confirmed that 58% of South African Table 5: Professionals involved in the Constructability Reviews
design firms use constructability dur- Professionals No. of respondents % Response
ing the outline proposal stage and 50% Quantity Surveyors 36 94.7
during the detailed proposal stage. Main Contractors 18 47.4
This means that most design firms Subcontractors 18 47.4
surveyed treat constructability integra-
Specialist Subcontractors 17 44.7
tion as part of an overall continuous
Structural Engineers 38 100
project improvement process, which
Electrical Engineers 33 86.8
is the recommended by most research-
Mechanical Engineers 33 86.8
ers (O’Connor and Miller 1994). Having
another approach, Mendelsohn (1997) Land Surveyors 28 73.7

stated that it is generally believed that

implementing constructability reviews Construction Engineer’s
should be conducted after plans are Involvement in Design
completed to a certain level in order for Arditi et al. (2002) mentioned in their (e.g. design and build). Tam (2007)
reviewers to have something to work study that 95% of the respondents stated that the traditional procurement
with. Alternatively, construction knowl- are of the opinion that construction method is the most typical method
edge and expertise must be brought in engineers should be involved in the used in the construction industry.
before any design is put onto paper. design phase in addition to other pro- One of the main burdens in using this
This approach enables designers to fessionals that are already participat- method in construction projects is the
begin their work with certain key issues ing in this stage. This finding indicates lack of contractor involvement in the
in mind, issues that can frequently be that designers are aware of the need design stage. It should be noted that
accommodated without adverse cost to for a construction expert to provide separation between designers and
the design. the design team with insights into the contractors in handling design and
construction phase of the project. Al- construction activities largely affects
though 57% of the respondents believe project constructability. The traditional
Professionals Involved that construction engineers should be procurement method lacks co-ordi-
in the Constructability involved regardless of project condi- nation between design and construc-
Reviews tions, 38% indicated that the involve- tion phases of the project, in which
Although achieving constructability ment of construction engineers should individual parties mainly concern on
objectives is the responsibility of all depend on the size, complexity, and their own interests. Therefore, other
project participants, not all profession- type of project. Several respondents procurement approaches are highly
als have the same chance to be involved made remarks like ‘‘sometimes our of- encouraged for construction projects to
in the design process. Motsal et al. fice engineers do not see things as our utilise the construction knowledge and
(2008) mentioned in their studies that, construction people do”. This kind of contractor’s experience to deliver bet-
the surveyed design firms were asked remark indicates that the designers are ter construction projects and develop
to indicate the professionals that are not against the potential advisory role common interests between project par-
usually involved in the design process. that experienced construction person- ticipants. An interviewed main contrac-
All respondents indicated that structur- nel might play in their organizations. tor highlighted that the involvement of
al engineers were the most commonly It emphasizes the fundamental differ- contractors at the early design stage in
involved professionals, while 44.7% of ences between designers and contrac- a project can bring advantages in con-
the respondents stated that specialist tors that a designer has a conceptual sidering construction methods (such as
subcontractors were the least common- mind that relates to intangibles and a the use of prefabrication in major ac-
ly involved (see Table 5). This could be contractor has a practical mind that re- tivities including concreting, plastering
attributed to the perception that some lates to tangibles. and formworking, rather than wet-trade

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construction activities) before project ▶ Lack of mutual respect between ▶ Poor communication with waste
commencement on site and to improve designers and constructors. management specialists who need
project constructability. ▶ Perception of increased designer to be integrated early in the design
liability. process.
▶ Construction input is requested too ▶ Lack of considering life cycle cost and
Barriers to Constructability late to be of value. specify non-durable or sustainable
O’Connor (1994) identified barriers to ▶ Faulty, ambiguous, or defective materials results in replacing
constructability as significant inhibi- working drawings. materials / products many times
tors that prevent effective implementa- ▶ Incomplete specifications and during the project life span.
tion of a constructability programme. budgetary limitations.
The barriers to constructability are (CII
1987, Abdellatif and Othman 2006, Contractor Barriers Benefits of Constructability
Douglas and Gransberg 2009). ▶ Reluctance of field personnel to offer in the Design Process
preconstruction advice. Constructability should be applied at
Owner Barriers ▶ Poor timeliness of input. the early stage and considered as an
▶ Lack of awareness and resistance to ▶ Poor communication skills. important objective in all stages of the
formal constructability programmes. ▶ Lack of involvement in tool and construction process. This is because
▶ Perception that constructability equipment development. of its ability to influence project cost
delays project schedule and add better value for money. Based
▶ Reluctance to invest additional Waste Management and Recycling on their construction knowledge and
money and/or effort in early project Barriers experience, contractors can play a ma-
stages ▶ Lack of understanding the jor role in reducing construction waste
▶ Lack of genuine commitment importance and benefits of managing and enhancing building performance
▶ Distinctly separate design and recycling waste, during the design stage (Nima et al.
management and construction ▶ Lack of awareness and integration of 2001). On a scale of 1-5, Motsa et al.
management operations the waste management philosophy in (2008) identified and ranked the ben-
▶ Lack of construction experience the design process. efits of implementing constructability
▶ Lack of team-building or partnering ▶ Not specifying the use of recycled (see Figure 2). In addition, Arditi et al.
▶ Disregard of constructability in materials in design. (2002) Identified and ranked the ben-
selecting contractors and consultants ▶ Over specification. efits of constructability to design firms
▶ Contracting difficulties in defining ▶ Using materials / products that (see Table 6).
constructability scope generate waste.
▶ Misdirected design objectives and
performance measures
▶ Lack of financial incentive for
▶ Gold-plated standard specifications
▶ Limitations of lump-sum competitive
▶ Unreceptive to contractor innovation

Designer Barriers
▶ Perception that they have considered
Figure 2: Benefits of Implementing Constructability
▶ Lack of awareness of benefits,
concepts, etc. Table 6: The Opportunities for Implementing Constructability Reviews
▶ Lacks of construction experience/
Developing better relationships with clients and contractors 2.7
qualified personnel.
Being involved in fewer lawsuits 2.5
▶ Setting company goals over project
Building a good reputation 2.5
Professional satisfaction 2.4
▶ Lack of awareness of construction
technologies. Efficient Design 2.3

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Architecture and the Design process is a transparent and rational model procedure for methodical de-
Process one where objectives are fixed in ad- sign process, termed the RIBA plan of
Definitions vance, information relevant to the prob- Work. Subsequently, the plan of work
By referring to Webster Dictionary, lem is gathered, this data is analysed, was revised in 2000 and then updated
“Architecture” has one of the follow- a possible solution is synthesised and in 2007 to cope with the ever-changing
ing meanings: then evaluated against the objectives. business environment, meet clients
▶ The art of making plans for If it is thought that the attempt at the and users’ expectations as well as
buildings, the work of an architect. solution can be improved upon, then a technology enhancement. The process
▶ The style or styles of building that re-iterative process follows where the is typically broken down into 5 main
an architect produces or imitates; solution is refined until some optimum phases namely, preparation, design,
as a church or modern architecture. is achieved. The “Black Box Theory” pre-construction, construction and
It could be defined as the science and maintains that the most important part use. Detailed description of the activi-
the art of building. It is understood to of the design process is the creative act ties to be carried out in each phase is
be the whole of the environment built on the part of the designer. They point mentioned in Table 7 (RIBA 2011).
by humans, including buildings, urban out that the unpredictable, associa-
spaces, and landscape (Roth 1994). tive abilities of the human mind which Measuring Building
The Architect is defined as the person produce an idea cannot be accounted Performance
who designs buildings. The role of the for by any rational model. It is to this Definitions and Background
architect is to design buildings within theory that many practising designers Generally speaking, performance is
the framework of the national building subscribe, they offend the attempts to defined as the action or process of per-
bylaws and the local planning restric- explain their abilities and argue that forming. Hence, measuring building
tions and to document and supervise designers cannot always give convinc- performance could be defined as the
the erection thereof in order that it will ing reasons for their design decisions. evaluation of the ability of a building to
meet the client requirements (Haupt- Design problems are extremely com- accomplish its intended function and
fleisch 2004). plex, requiring the designer to deal satisfy its users. It is an ongoing proc-
interrelationship between many sub- ess which aims to identify what is going
An Introduction to Design problems. When dealing with problems well and why and what is going wrong
Every construction project starts with requiring the manipulation of more or could be improved, and why. In addi-
a plan. The plan identifies all the de- than one a few parameters then, the tion, corrective actions have to be tak-
tails of the project. It is developed by designer must initially focus on a well- en in order to overcome shortcomings
many different people, such as archi- structured sub-problem as a point of and enhance performance. Perform-
tects, engineers, draughtsmen, and entry to the design problem. The envi- ance measurement can only be effec-
specification writers. Design is the ronment in which the design problem is tive if it is carried out against specific
first step in a construction project. It being solved brings various pressures aim and objectives (Pettinger 2001). In
could be defined as “the process of to bear on the designer. Principals the past, the performance of construc-
deciding what a structure will look like among these pressures are lack of time tion projects was typically evaluated
and how it will function. Designing a and increasing professionalism. It is ar- informally and in terms of cost, time,
project can be entirely new or it can be gued that architects gain more esteem and quality. This type of evaluation
a result of several ideas combined to- from peer approval than from the satis- was perhaps sufficient at that time be-
gether to meet the needs of a specific faction of the client or users. It is there- cause building projects were relatively
project (Fales 1991). fore in their interest at times to pursue less complex and the level of technol-
their own aims in designing a building, ogy in design was low. But things have
Design Theories particularly from the aesthetic point changed dramatically and the three
There are two opposing views of the of view, and deny the client group the categories of project evaluation of time,
theories of design. In one view, termed opportunity of interfering with his own cost and quality have been described
the “Glass Box Theory”, design is taken ideas of how the building should be de- as insufficient. Building performance
to be a rational, explicable decision signed (Roth 1994, Othman 2008). evaluation has to be improved to cope
making process, while the opposing with the ever-increasing proliferation
view, the “Black Box Theory”, holds The RIBA Plan of Work and specialisation in the construction
design ability to be a talent which can- In 1964 the Royal Institute of British industry in terms of building types,
not as yet be rationally explained. The Architects (RIBA) published the RIBA services, technology, code and regula-
“Glass Box Theory”, assumes that the Handbook in which was published a tory requirements, energy conserva-

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Table 7. The RIBA Plan of Work

(A) Appraisal
• Identification of Client’s needs and objective, business case and of possible constraints on development.
• Preparation of feasibility studies to enable the client to decide whether to proceed.
(B) Design Brief
• Development of initial statement of requirements into the design brief by or on behalf of the Client confirming
key requirements and constraints.
• Identification of procurement method, procedures, organisational structure and range of Consultants and others
to be engaged for the Project.
(C) Concept
• Implementation of design brief and preparation of additional data.
• Preparation of Concept Design including outline proposals for structural and building services systems, outline
specifications and preliminary cost plan.
• Review of procurement route.
(D) Design Development
Design • Development of concept design to include structural and building services systems, updated outline
specifications and cost plan.
• Completion of Project Brief.
• Application for detailed planning approval.
(E) Technical Design
Preparation of Technical design(s) and specifications sufficient for co-ordination of all components and elements of
the Project. and information for statutory standards and construction safety. 

(F) Production Information
• F1 Preparation of detailed information for construction.
Application for statutory approvals.
• F2 Preparation of further information for construction required under the building contract. Review of
information provided by specialists
Pre - Construction (G) Tender documentation
• Preparation and collation of tender documentation in sufficient detail to enable a tender or tenders to be
obtained for the construction of the Project.
(H) Tender action
• Identification and evaluation of potential contractors and/or specialists for the construction of the Project.
• Obtaining and appraising tenders and submission of recommendations to the Client.

(J) Mobilisation
• Letting the building contract, appointing the Contractor.
• Issuing of production information to the Contractor.
• Arranging site handover to the Contractor.
(K) To practical completion
• Administration of the building contract up to and including practical completion.
• Provision to the Contractor of further information as and when reasonably required.
• Review of information provided by contractors and specialists.
(L) Post Practical Completion
• L1 Administration of the building contract after Practical Completion and making final inspections.
• L2 Assisting building user during initial occupation period
• L3 Review of project performance in use

tion, fire safety, environmental health, Building performance criteria could be ing performance and end-users’ require-
and safety constraints (Kagioglou et al. carried out at three levels. ments, it is an important tool for manag-
2001, Langston and Ding 2001). ▶ Health, safety and security ing and planning for new facilities. The
performance; benefits of measuring building perform-
Building Performance Criteria ▶ Functional, efficiency and work flow ance range from short term to long term
In order to improve building perform- performance; (Barrett 1995).
ance it is of prime importance to estab- ▶ Psychological, social, cultural and
lish the criteria to be used for evaluat- aesthetic performance (Preiser and 1) At the short-term
ing building performance. This will help Vischer 2005). Measuring building performance allows
design firms to utilise the construction clients and facility management team to
knowledge and experience of project Benefits of Measuring Building have a better understanding of the func-
participants, contractors in particular, Performance tionality and performance of their build-
to achieve these criteria as an approach Although measuring building perform- ings compared with the stated criteria
for improving building performance. ance helps understanding current build- during design. In addition, active user

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participation in the evaluation process three story building with a future fourth- Using Information technology in com-
plays an important role in defining and floor expansion. The expansion exceed- munication and exchange of files and
considering their needs and require- ed the $2.5 million budget for steel fab- information reduced the re-design
ments in the design of new buildings. rication and erection by $200,000. Ruby time and enhanced communica-
and Associates Consulting Structural tion between different parties. The
2) At the medium-term Engineers entered the project and ap- new design maintained design in-
The data collected during the assess- plied the constructability principles to tent and made the project easier to
ment of building performance can be completely re-design the structural steel build. 700 steel members and 1,400
used as a source of knowledge for plan- fabrication. Utilising their construction connections were eliminated, while
ning new buildings of similar type. De- knowledge and the practical experience shear studs were reduced by 11,000.
signers equipped with user feedback of Douglas Steel Fabrication Corpora- Overall, approximately 300 tons of
are helped to design future buildings tion, the re-design process included: steel were saved. This saved enough
that more closely meet the needs of the money to enable LCC to construct the
users. ▶ Increasing the deck thickness from 2” fourth floor upfront while bringing the
to 3” allowed the floor beams spacing project in approximately $100,000 un-
3) At the long term to increase by 10”. This reduced the der budget and on schedule (see Fig-
Measuring building performance helps number of floor beams by 78%. ure 3) (Aeck and Ruby 2006).
establishing databases, generates plan- ▶ Changing the mixed lateral load resist-
ning and design criteria for specific ing system to moment frames in both Cannon Beach Residence, Oregon,
building types and enables designers to directions and the connections were USA.
consider documented past experience. designed as field-bolted moment con- The owners’ request to the architect
This is important to avoid repeating past nections using the actual moments was  for “a small home that will pro-
errors and recognise past success. The and stiffness required. This reduced vide shelter, comfort, and rejuvena-
accumulated information plays a pivotal field labour required and simplified tion.” The request continued, “We
role in improving the quality of future shop fabrication. will need for it to be equally comfort-
buildings and services to the client and ▶ Reducing construction hours and la- able when inhabited by just the two
users. Assessment results may also im- bour needed for the structure through of  us as when a gathering of  family
prove design practice by making design- moving the fabrication from the field and friends joins us. Our new home
ers aware that their buildings may be to the shop which enhanced the qual- should reflect the character of Cannon
subject of scrutiny. Thus design of future ity and increased work efficiency. Beach and capture our love of  mate-
buildings may lead to better value for
money to clients and society. This con-
cern not only issues of functionality, but
overall sustainability, energy efficiency
and environmental impact.

Case studies of successful

projects benefited from
integrating constructability
in the design process
The Lansing Community College,
Michigan, USA
Since the cost of the new campus build-
ing exceeded the allocated budget,
Lansing Community College (LCC) de-
cided to redesign the project or scrap
part of it. LLC was established in 1957 to
meet the growing demand for technical
and specialized education in the Great-
er Lansing area, Michigan, USA. The
LCC Health and Human Services Career
Building was originally designed as a Figure 3: Applying constructability facilitates construction and reduces cost

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tives at the most cost-effective manner
and in a way that saves the environment,
enhances the society and prospers the
economy. Being the entity responsible
for constructing the designed facility,
contractors have a significant role that
could be played towards improving
building performance during the design
phase. As case studies showed, utilis-
ing construction knowledge and con-
tractor’s experience during the design
phase, helped reducing cost, facilitating
construction, reducing waste, resolving
conflicts, reducing delays and selecting
sustainable materials and better build-
ing systems. Contractors were involved
in the early stages of the project life cy-
cle and the peer review and feedback
methods were adopted for constructa-
bility review. The main issue is how to
make better utilisation and use of the
involvement of project participants dur-
ing the design stage. This necessitated
the development of a framework that set
Figure 4: Early contractor involvement in design helps reducing life-cycle cost assessment,
selecting sustainable materials and efficient building system (Home Design Home 2010). the rules and establish the grounds that
organise the involvement of construction
rials and  forms  found in nature. We tribution  to conducting three abbrevi- professionals, contractors in particular,
prefer  for it to be low profile and un- ated life-cycle cost assessments was during the design stages as an approach
derstated. The home should be dura- critical to the selection of building sys- for improving building performance.
ble  for generations and require little tems and materials. The contractor also
maintenance. Our goal is to build a contributed to the design for durability, Improving building perform-
home that is healthy to live in using low maintenance, reducing waste and ance framework (IBPF)
materials and systems with a dramati- longevity. Based upon the contrac- Definition and Justification of
cally reduced impact on the environ- tor’s opinion that the local knowledge Developing the Framework
ment.” The project’s integrated  de- of  green building was less than ad- Framework is defined as a structure for
sign team included the owners, archi- equate to achieve the aggressive green describing a set of concepts, methods
tect, interior designer, and landscape goals for this project, the design team and technologies required to complete
architect. The  contractor  joined the and owners conducted a six-hour green- a product process and design (EDMS
team after schematic design was com- building seminar open to subcontrac- 2010). The Improving Building Perform-
plete. The team held several meet- tors, building officials, trades people, ance Framework (IBPF) (hereinafter
ings to establish clear and concise and the public (Cascadia 2009). referred to as “the Framework” or the
goals for the project (see Figure 4). “IBPF”) is a proposed framework devel-
During the design process, the project Discussion oped by this research to facilitate the
team conducted  five half-day eco- Literature review and case studies integration of construction knowledge
charrettes, each composed of the core showed that improving building perform- and contactor’s experience in the design
team, content experts, and guests ance could be accomplished through process as an approach for improving
of the owners, including artists, neigh- applying the constructability concept building performance. The justification
bours, and  friends. Involving the  con- early in the project life cycle. The diverse of developing the framework is a number
tractor early in the design process was experience of project participants (i.e. of folds:
paramount, as the  contractor  contrib- clients, architects, engineers, contrac- ▶ Using natural resources and energy
uted expertise to all aspects of  the tors, suppliers, etc.) represents a great in an efficient way that reduces
design process. The contractor’s  con- opportunity to achieve the project objec- construction waste, reduces building

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and operating costs and enhances ▶ Establishing integration objectives. will facilitate the provision of needed
the reputation of the building ▶ Developing integration plans. resources and the adoption of study
industry. ▶ Executing integration plans. decision. Data collection methods (i.e.
▶ Improving building performance in ▶ Monitoring / Optimising Integration. literature review, survey questionnaire
terms of enhancing health, safety, and interviews) and data analysis tech-
security, function, efficiency, work Description of the Framework niques (i.e. quantitative and qualitative)
flow, psychology, society and culture The framework consists of five steps, have to be defined and utilised. Brain-
and aesthetic. namely: identifying integration problem, storming technique, team consensus
▶ Utilising the construction knowledge establishing integration objectives, de- and evaluation matrix have to be used
and contractor’s experience to veloping integration plans, executing for identifying the root causes and rank
support the government initiatives integration plans and monitoring / opti- them according to their importance.
towards achieving their strategies mising integration (see Figure 5).
and plans for social and economic Establishing integration objectives
development. Identifying integration problem Towards enabling design firms and
▶ Enhancing the performance of The “Identifying Integration Problem” construction professionals improve
organizations operating in the function is an essential activity of this building performance and adopt appro-
construction industry by creating framework because it enables design priate decisions, the objectives of in-
partnership between project firms and construction professionals to tegrating construction knowledge and
participants, especially designers identify the core causes that obstruct contractor’s experience in the design
and contractors. the integration of construction knowl- process have to be adequately defined
▶ Adding value to the built edge and contractor’s experience in the and agreed by all participants. This
environment and achieving design process. It is of importance to could be achieved through using Brain-
customer satisfaction. build an effective team (including a com- storming technique and team consen-
petent team leader) that will carry out sus to generate and select objectives
The Aim and Objectives of the the improvement study. Achieving a bal- that address the identified problem. Es-
Framework ance between the need for participants tablishing integration objectives gives
The developed framework is a busi- who represent various areas of exper- team members ownership to these
ness improvement tool designed to tise and possess diverse background objectives and encourages them to ac-
integrate construction knowledge and is fundamental for accomplishing the complish these objectives. Evaluation
contractor’s experience in the design study objectives. The study team should matrix will be used to rank these objec-
process as an approach for improving contain between six and twelve full time tives according to their significance. In
building performance. This aim could be participants to maintain optimum pro- addition, this function will result also
achieved through accomplishing a set of ductivity (Norton and McElligott 1995). in defining the criteria to be used to
interrelated objectives as follows: Performing an early orientation meeting measure the improvement of building
▶ Identifying the problems that hinder will help in establishing strategic issues performance.
integrating construction knowledge like study duration, resources required
and contractor’s experience in the and assigning responsibilities to team Developing integration plans
design process. members. Senior management support The “Developing Integration Plans”
function aims to set the procedures
and actions necessary to accomplish
the integration objectives. It will in-
clude a work breakdown structure and
a responsibility matrix, where the first
downsizes the work into manageable
work packages and the later links the
activity to be done and the responsible
person. In addition, the plans should
include expected risks and corrective
actions to be taken in case of the plan
did not go as planned. Furthermore,
communication plan amongst project
Figure 5: Improving Building Performance Framework (developed by the author) participants have to be developed to

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portray the reporting structure of the long-term strategy and due the tight building performance and keeping in
constructability review. schedules in construction projects, this mind the analysis of the case studies
framework might not be welcomed by that benefited from integrating con-
Executing integration plans some sectors of the industry. Due to tractors during the design process, the
Within this function, the plans devel- the research limited timeframe and re- research comes to the following conclu-
oped in the previous function will be ex- sources, it was not possible to apply and sions and recommendations:
ecuted. The execution plans may require evaluate the framework, hence it needs ▶ In spite of its social and economic
that employees involved in the integra- to tested and validated in real construc- development contributions at
tion process be trained and equipped tion projects. national and international levels,
with all tools and technologies required the construction industry has a
to guarantee the successful execution of Strategies for facilitating the adoption negative impact on the environment
plans. In addition, senior management of the framework and suffers from being a fragmented
support and offering required facilities In order to overcome these limita- business.
will help achieving the integration ob- tions and increase the opportunities of ▶ The traditional procurement
jectives. The execution stage should use adopting the framework, the following approaches adopted in construction
the work authorization system, which strategies have to be followed: projects and the different objectives,
provides for verification of predecessor ▶ Escalating the awareness of archi- skills and interests of project
activities and the permission to begin tects with the importance of utilising participants played a significant
successor activities. This ensures the the construction knowledge and role towards separating design
quality of work performed. contractor’s experience towards de- from construction which ultimately
livering better construction projects. hindered contractors from providing
Monitoring / Optimising integration ▶ The benefits of the framework should designers with their feedback and
The aim of this function is to ensure that be presented and explained to senior suggestions for design improvement.
the integration of construction knowl- management of design firms in order ▶ Literature review and case studies
edge and contractor’s experience in the to convince them with the role, which showed that the early integration
design process goes according to plan. the framework could play in improv- of contractors in the design
Comments and feedback from the exe- ing building performance. process, greatly improves building
cution team will enable taking corrective ▶ Eliminating the adversarial relation- performance through reducing life
actions if plans were not implemented ship between the different parties cycle cost, compressing delivery
as planned. Furthermore, this will help of the construction process through schedules, better productivity
improving the performance of the con- creating partnership between project and integrating state-of-the-art
struction industry in future improve- team members, especially designers construction means and methods.
ment project. and contractors. Based on these conclusions, the re-
▶ Adopting procurement methods that search recommends that:
Limitations of the Framework encourage contractor’s involvement ▶ Design firms are advised to integrate
Although the framework is theoretical during the design process. construction knowledge and contrac-
and needs to be tested, it establishes ▶ Ample time should be allowed to tor’s experience in the design process
the steps and set the rules that help in- conduct constructability reviews as it as an approach to improve building
tegrating construction knowledge and plays a significant role towards im- performance.
contractor’s experience in the design proving building performance. ▶ Changing organisational culture and
process. In addition, the effective ap- ▶ Adopting innovative communication getting senior management support
plication of the framework depends to tools and techniques will facilitate are essential for successful imple-
a large extent on the willingness and conducting constructability reviews mentation of constructability concept
encouragement of the senior manage- and archiving document for future in design firms.
ment in design firms and construction projects. ▶ Barriers to constructability need to be
companies to adopt the framework to identified and strategies for overcom-
improve building performance. On the Conclusions and ing have to be planned, implemented
other hand, if the senior management recommendations and evaluated.
does not have the desire and tended Having reviewed the nature of the ▶ Design firms are encouraged to adopt
not to use the framework, then its adop- construction industry, the concept of the framework developed by this
tion will be limited. Since the adoption constrtactability, architecture and the research and its strategies to facilitate
and application of the framework is a design process as well as measuring the integration of the constructability

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