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
Read about RSHP's British Museum extension which has been shortlisted for the 2017 Stirling Prize.
Read our introductory article to building a house extension.
More updates from DCMS about the large-scale testing of cladding systems and the number of buildings affected.
UandI secure resolution to grant planning consent for major new regeneration project.
IHBC article considers how heritage is dealt with when infrastructure schemes are authorised.
It was the tallest structure in the world for 3,800 years, but to this day the exact construction techniques are a mystery.
Shortlist for the industry's most coveted award announced.
Government responds to Mark Farmer's review of industry, rejecting the call for a levy on clients.
Peter Hansford to examine what wider lessons can be learned from the fire.
Every project is subject to uncertainty. How can construction better understand uncertainty for performance improvement?
MAD Architects reveal their designs for a futuristic campus for electric car manufacturer.
Homebuyers could borrow more with better forecasting of energy bills, according to industry consortium's new report.
Read our introductory article on carbon capture and storage.
Have a look at Frank Gehry's Binoculars Building in Los Angeles.