Buildability in construction
Buildability is a pre-construction exercise that looks at a design from the perspective of those that will manufacture, install components and carry out the construction works. This should not be confused with value engineering though some processes are common to both activities.
In very broad terms, assessing buildability should assess elements of the design in relation to:
- Achieving the desired final quality.
- Meeting the programme requirements.
- De-risking perceived problems.
- Achieving optimum value for money.
It involves careful study and consideration of:
- The sequence of activities that will take place on and off site, taking into account the state of the building and its weatherproof environment at any given time.
- Dimensional criteria, setting out and space allowances.
- Use of plant and equipment to save labour and time and prevent possible damage.
- Practicality, flexibility and required tolerances.
- Standardisation of components and processes.
- Reduction in complexity to shorten learning curves.
- Identification of appropriate suppliers.
- Prefabrication opportunities.
- Ease and order of interface connections and abutments.
- Packaging of the works and allocation of scope in relation to trade and specialist contracts.
- Installation and maintenance access arrangements including long-term replacement.
- Health and safety.
- Temporary works such as propping, facade retention, retaining facilities and trench support, crane supports, formwork, falsework and scaffolding including gantries.
- Susceptibility to damage and protective procedures in-transit and in-situ.
- Weight and lifting requirements.
- Unloading operations.
- Spare parts.
- Storage and waste management.
Advances in Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Computed Aided Manufacturing (CAM) as will as the introduction of Building Information Modelling (BIM) are immensely helpful in visualising many aspects of buildability. However, the availability of technology does not remove the need for engaging practitioners who have hard-won experience and awareness of on-site practicalities and potential pitfalls.
The contractor is often best placed to advise on issues of buildability, and some procurement methods, such as construction management, management contracting and design and build allow early appointment of the contractor to offer advice and feedback on design proposals as they develop.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- CDM planning period.
- Construction manager.
- Construction phase plan.
- Design and build.
- Management contractor.
- Method statements.
- Modular building.
- Offsite manufacturing.
- Pre-construction information.
- Samples and mock-ups.
- Site layout plan.
- Site Waste Management Plan.
- Structural systems for offices.
- Temporary works.
- Value management.
Featured articles and news
BSRIA publish mechanical and electrical maintenance customer satisfaction key performance indicators.
Have a look at our article on the history, practice and techniques of placemaking.
Have a look at the key recommendations from ICE's new report on the digital transformation of infrastructure.
The Gate of Europe, the world's first inclining high-rises, with a lean of 15-degrees.
Why engineers need to keep pace with the challenges and opportunities of the digital transformation of the infrastructure sector.
Have a read of our introductory article on fabric structures; their history, properties and characteristics, and more...
Growing connectivity and what it means for physical infrastructure, disruptive new tech and increasing interdependencies.
Foster & Partners selected as architectural team for new bridge crossings in Ipswich.
Could this strange new concept be the future of skyscraper design?
Designing Buildings Wiki attended a RIBA panel debate on one of London's most notorious planning disputes.
Creating an accessible and inclusive environment – CIC publish new guide.
BRE report on the second day of MIPIM 2017.
Read about the 'Exceptional' sustainable design features of the recent winner of the coveted Your BREEAM Award.