Last edited 22 Dec 2021

Collaborative practices for building design and construction


[edit] Introduction

In 1994, the Latham Report (Constructing the Team) investigated the perceived problems with the construction industry, describing it as 'ineffective', 'adversarial', 'fragmented' and 'incapable of delivering for its customers', proposing that there should be greater partnering and teamwork.

This message was reinforced by the Egan Report (Rethinking Construction,1998), the Government Construction Strategy in 2011, and the 2016 Farmer Review ('Modernise or Die'), which made a similar, somewhat damning assessment of the industry, suggesting, among many criticisms that:

[edit] The importance of collaboration

Establishing collaborative practices is of particular importance on building design and construction projects, as they are likely to involve bringing together a large number of diverse disciplines, many of which will not have worked together before. They are also likely to involve the co-ordination and integration of a great deal of complex information, procedures and systems.

Failure to establish clear and efficient project-wide collaborative practices can be disastrous.

This has become increasingly true as project structures have evolved from straight-forward client-consultant-contractor relationships to more integrated structures with complex financing arrangements, early engagement of the supply chain and the introduction of sub-contractor and supplier design.

[edit] Working practices

[edit] Procurement

It is important to establish the broad principles of collaborative practice as early as possible in a project, even if some specific details are left unresolved until later stages.

A decision to adopt a collaborative approach should be taken at the outset by the client (perhaps with advice from independent client advisers) so that a requirement to follow appropriate procedures can be included in appointment documents and can be a consideration in the selection of procurement route, form of contract and preparation of tender documentation. The implementation of collaborative practices should then be discussed in detail during consultant team start-up meetings, specialist contractor start-up meetings and pre-contract meetings.

The Government Construction Strategy recommends that public projects adopt design and build, private finance initiative or prime-type contract procurement routes, as these are considered to be more collaborative. They also suggest adoption of the NEC3 form of contract which they believe encourages collaboration more effectively than some other more traditional contracts which may be seen as adversarial.

Other forms of collaborative procurement include partnering (sometimes referred to as alliancing), which is a broad term used to describe a management approach that encourages openness and trust between the parties to a contract. The parties become dependant on one another for success and this requires a change in culture, attitudes, behaviours and procedures throughout the supply chain. It is most commonly used on large, long-term or high-risk contracts. Where a partnering relationship is for a specific project, it is known as 'project partnering'. Where it is a multi-project relationship it is known as 'strategic partnering'.

Partnering contracts are often arranged on a cost-reimbursable, target-cost, open-book basis including both incentives, and penalties. Partnering agreements include the project partnering contract PPC2000, the term partnering contract TPC2005, the NEC partnering agreement and the ICE Partnering Addendum.

See Partnering for more information.

[edit] Organisation

Organisational working practices that encourage collaboration might include:

[edit] Roles and responsibilities

Clarity of responsibility and co-ordination can be improved by the appointment of:

In addition, the appointment of a construction manager or management contractor (or early appointment of a design and build contractor) can result in better integration of design and construction, as can the early involvement of specialist contractors or suppliers.This may have an impact on the fee profile for a project which will be more likely to be 'front-loaded', but should result in fewer problems as the project progresses.

NB: The Government Construction Strategy proposes that public projects should adopt a fully integrated approach to project organisation - see integrated project team and integrated supply team.

[edit] Information management

Ensuring that consultants sign up to the use of compatible systems and adopt agreed document and drawing standards will help facilitate collaboration.

Systems might include:

A consistent approach to software systems, versions, drawing standards and file formats is very important for design projects and will avoid duplicated effort and errors.

Drawing standards might include:

See BS 1192:2007: Collaborative production of architectural, engineering and construction information. Code of practice (now replaced by BS EN ISO 19650).

Standardisation procedures also apply to the production of other forms of project documentation. It may be beneficial to create a document matrix outlining key documents that will be required in the development of the project, their format and distribution.

Establishing a common data environment (CDE), within which the creation of information such as drawings can be shared between the consultant team can improve efficiency, avoid duplication and enhance co-ordination. See Common Data Environment for more information.

[edit] Building information modelling (BIM)

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is seen increasingly as a means of facilitating collaborative working. BIM is a very broad term that describes the process of creating a digital model of a building.

The range of levels of this type of modelling are categorised as:

In the UK, the Government Construction Strategy states that the '...Government will require fully collaborative 3D BIM (with all project and asset information, documentation and data being electronic) as a minimum by 2016'. This represents a requirement for Level 2 BIM on public projects.

Fundamentally, the purpose of BIM is to ensure that appropriate information is created in a suitable format at the right time so that better decisions can be made throughout the design, construction and operation of built assets. It is not about creating a 3D model for its own sake, and it is not an add-on process. BIM is fundamental to the way a project is set up and run.

The move to a more collaborative way of working, and the adoption of BIM can require a significant change in culture. It can be useful to appoint a BIM champion to ensure the successful integration of BIM into the entire project team from the outset. This can also be true for individual companies, where a BIM champion can help encourage and facilitate the adoption of BIM.

See BIM for more information.

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings

[edit] External references


Very good post! Check our new article and inform yourself about 5D BIM in construction.

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