Last edited 27 Feb 2018

Interface risk in construction

Interfaces are points of interaction between two or more aspects of a project:

  • Physical interfaces occur where different contractors are engaged on the same project, particularly where their respective works interact or connect in some way.
  • Relationship interfaces occur between different stakeholders on a project, such as; contractors, local community groups, regulatory bodies, the client, and so on.

Interface risk, and the failure to manage it effectively, is a common cause for problems on construction projects, giving rise to:

Managing interface risks between the contracting parties typically involves contractual provisions which might include collaboration and co-operation clauses, clear and complete design documents and specifications, fit for purpose clauses, insurances and warranties, variation clauses and so on.

Interfaces between parties without a contractual relationship can be less straight-forward, but may involve:

It is important that responsibility for managing interfaces is allocated to a specific individual or organisation, as they can often fall between responsibilities or contracts. This is particularly important on large or complex projects where there may be a very large number of interfacing organisations, contracts and packages of work.

New technologies such as Building Information Modelling (BIM) can help identify both soft and hard interface risks, as well as encouraging effective collaboration between stakeholders on a project. Clash avoidance and clash detection should be carried out as an integral part of the design and construction process, from defining standard methods and procedures and establishing a BIM volume strategy, through to specialist design and the creation of a virtual construction model and should continue during the construction phase itself as models are updated with as-constructed information.

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