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4 Times Lucky?

4 Times Lucky?

Quality, Consequences and the Construction Industrial Complex (part 115) – All IMHO:
To get a high performance building that actually works the developer has to get lucky 4 times. 

I am talking about a building that works in the way a car works i.e. performs as designed, meets its aesthetic, energy, water, IAQ and occupant well being objectives flawlessly and persistently.

To get a high performance building that works, four sequential phases have to be completed with excellence:

  1. Briefing phase
  2. Design phase
  3. Construction phase
  4. Commissioning phase

If just one phase is executed poorly, the project outcome will be sub-optimal. 

Project Design Brief
This IMHO, is the big one. Unless a detailed design brief or owners project requirements (OPR) is discussed and documented, how can design performance be measured? Just asking for a “LEED Gold” building does not cut it. The OPR should include quantitative and qualitative criteria plus detailed information on planned building use. If this is not done well, the project is being setup for failure, miss-managed expectations and cost overruns. 

Project Design
High performance design teams are required for high performance buildings. There are less of these design teams around than advertised. I believe the 80/20 rule applies. For every 100 design teams that claim competence only 20 truly are. IMHO 80% of the all problems, errors and omissions are “baked in” the design drawings and specs. Pre-tender design excellence, is a key requirement. The integrated design process (IDP) should be applied. 

Great designers cannot magically respond to a poor or muddled design brief or unrealistic expectations.

Project Construction
The best possible outcome for a construction project is minimum compliance with the contract based on design documents. Assuming a perfect design document set and no contractors “mischief” with substitute materials, equipment, RFI’s and chasing change orders, compliant construction should be possible. Anyone experienced this? 

A construction team with the appropriate integrity, skills, experience and resources has to be identified and selected. Again, I believe the 80/20 rule applies. For every 100 construction firms that claim competence only 20 truly are.

Great construction cannot magically fix poor design. 

Project Commissioning
Due to complexity, technology and the frequent “silo” nature of building design and construction, commissioning is necessary. Not testing and commissioning a building is like buying a Porsche 911 and not having the engine tuned. It will look beautiful (IMHO) and start but performance will be unacceptable. Buildings must be fully commissioned,validated and optimized by a team with the appropriate, skills, experience and resources.

Commissioning cannot magically fix poor design and construction.

Some owners and developers are more lucky than others due to their abilities. Skill in property development management at all four project phases separates the good from the bad developers. In 37 years it is unusual for me to see these 4 phases done well. So in summery to get a high performance building that actually works you have to:

  1. Ask for it correctly 
  2. Hire a competent design team 
  3. Hire a competent construction team
  4. Hire a competent commissioning team

This all happens less than you would think. BTW, competence should be evident and demonstrable, we are not chasing unicorns here. 

If lowest bids from unqualified bidders is your game, I wish you the best of luck, 4 times over!

Twitter: @BLDWhisperer

Related posts & links:

#99 – E&O’s, CO’s & Shame ( )

#42 – The “Hot Potato” That Is The Controls Sequence of Operation ( )

#33 – Project Management & Commissioning KPI’s – A Way to Measure Quality? ( )

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