Building construction is a complex, significant, and rewarding process. It begins with an idea and culminates in a structure that may serve its occupants for several decades, even centuries. Like the manufacturing of products, building construction requires an ordered and planned assembly of materials. It is, however, far more complicated than product manufacturing. Buildings are assembled outdoors on all types of sites and are subject to all kinds of weather.
Additionally, even a modest-sized building must satisfy many performance criteria and legal constraints, requires an immense variety of materials, and involves a large network of design and production firms. It is further complicated by the fact that no two buildings are truly identical; each one must be custom-built to serve a unique function and respond to the uniqueness of its context and the preferences of its owner, user, and occupant. Because of a building’s uniqueness, we invoke first principles in each building project. Although it may seem that we are “reinventing the wheel,” we are in fact refining and improving the building delivery process. In so doing, we bring to the task the collective wisdom of the architects, engineers, and contractors who have done so before us. Although there are movements that promote the development of standardized, mass-produced buildings, these seldom meet the distinct needs of each user.
Regardless of the uniqueness of each building project, the flow of events and processes necessary for a project’s realization is virtually the same in all buildings. This chapter presents an overview of the events and processes that bring about a building—from the inception of a mere idea or concept in the owner’s mind to the completed design by the architects and engineers and, finally, to the actual construction of the building by the contractor. Design and construction are two independent but related and generally sequential functions in the realization of a building. The former function deals with the creation of the documentation, and the latter function involves interpreting and transforming these documents into reality—a building or a complex of buildings.
The chapter begins with a discussion of the various personnel involved in a project and the relational framework among them. Subsequently, a description of the two major elements of design documentation—construction drawings and specifications—is provided. Finally, the chapter examines some of the emerging methods of bringing a building into being and compares them with the traditional methods.
The purpose of this chapter, as its title suggests, is to provide an overall, yet distilled, view of the construction process and its relationship with design. Although several contractual and legal issues are discussed, they should be treated as introductory. A reader requiring detailed information on these topics should refer to sources such as those provided at the end of the chapter.
1.1 PROJECT DELIVERY PHASES
The process by which a building project is delivered to its owner may be divided into the following five phases, referred to as the project delivery phases. Although there is usually some overlap between adjacent phases, they generally follow the order listed below: • Predesign phase
• Design phase
• Preconstruction phase
• Construction phase
• Postconstruction phase
1.2 PREDESIGN PHASE
During the predesign phase (also called the planning phase), the project is defined in terms of its function, purpose, scope, size, and economics. It is the most crucial of all the five phases, as the success or failure of the project may depend on how well this phase is defined and managed. Obviously, the clearer the project’s definition, the easier it is to proceed to the subsequent phases. Some of the important predesign tasks are as follows: • Building program definition, including activities, functions, and spaces required in the building, along with their approximate sizes, and...