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Perceptions in the Australian Building Industry of Deficiencies in Architects' Design Documentation and the Effects on Project Procurement



This paper explores the Australian buildingindustry’s perceptions of the relationshipsbetween architects’ provision of designdocumentation and the constructability,programming and cost control of majorprojects. Previous recommendations aimed atimproving communications in the industry havenot achieved widespread endorsement andimplementation. Consequences of currentproblems are discussed, with additional coststo participants and lengthening of the projectprogram seen as common outcomes. Someinitiatives are proposed that aim to improve theprofessional understanding of these issuesthrough integration within the everydaypractices of architects and contractors andthrough a higher profile in tertiary educationprograms.
Perceptions in the Australian building industry of deficiencies
in architects’ design documentation and the effects on
project procurement
Rochelle Slater and Antony Radford (The University of Adelaide, School of
Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Urban Design, Adelaide, South Australia)
This paper explores the Australian building
industry’s perceptions of the relationships
between architects’ provision of design
documentation and the constructability,
programming and cost control of major
projects. Previous recommendations aimed at
improving communications in the industry have
not achieved widespread endorsement and
implementation. Consequences of current
problems are discussed, with additional costs
to participants and lengthening of the project
program seen as common outcomes. Some
initiatives are proposed that aim to improve the
professional understanding of these issues
through integration within the everyday
practices of architects and contractors and
through a higher profile in tertiary education
Keywords architecture, documentation, quality,
programming, cost control, constructability
There is a longstanding perception in the
Australian building and construction industry
that architectural design decisions and related
documentation standards are “substandard or
deficient due to incomplete, conflicting or
erroneous information” (Tilley, McFallan and
Tucker 2000). Misunderstanding,
miscommunication and shifting of blame are
rife, with an “adversarial relationship often
existing between parties to a building contract
frequently fiercely exacerbating the problems”
(Wilson, 2000). The aim of the research
reported in this paper is to investigate this
perception and to propose practical and
achievable strategies for its improvement.
Architects provide most of the information
required to build a project (RICS 2000, in Lam,
Wong, Chan 2005). Despite research that
suggests the quantity of produced drawings for
each building project, regardless of scale, has
progressively increased over the last 12-15
years (Gallo, Lucas, et al 2002), there is
concern in many parts of the world about a
perceived reduction in design and
documentation quality (Syam, 1995). Recent
surveys have found that 68% of designers and
88% of constructors within the industry feel
that the standard of design documentation and
specifications has declined over the past 12 –
15 years (Tilley 2005). This perception was
held by 90% of the constructors who
responded to the survey in the research
reported below in this paper. Poor design and
documentation has “led to significant financial
losses to consultants, constructors, clients, the
State and its taxpayers; an overall loss of
quality in the end product; and an increase in
disputes and variations” (Engineers Australia
Queensland Division Task Force 2005).
Design deficiencies account for almost half of
all documented variation orders, rework, cost
overruns, extensions of time, program delays,
contractual disputes and requests for
information (Tilley, McFallan and Tucker 2000).
These impressions are supported by data on
the principal causes of claims against
architectural professionals recorded by the
Royal Australian Institute of Architects (RAIA),
which are (in order) design errors, incomplete
documentation, negligent inspections, and cost
control (Poulton 2006). Nevertheless, the
architectural profession does not appear to
recognise these concerns to the extent
expressed by constructors (see Table 1,
Design Quality Attributes, in Tilley, McFallan
and Tucker 2000, p.9).
Rank Implications experienced within the industry compiled from survey and interview responses
1 Additional costs to all stakeholders
1.1 Increased submission of variation orders.
1.2 Decrease of available preliminaries.
1.3 Potential project budget overrun experienced.
Delays and prolongation of project program
2.1 Minor documentation or specification changes can lead to a domino effect on site. Lead times of “off
the shelf” items can result in long delays.
2.2 Time is perceived to be more valuable than design by some clients, so additional pressure is placed
on all site personnel to re-establish or accelerate the pro
2.3 Misapprehension by many consultants that the constructor achieves profitability from these
circumstances is unfounded. Under a majority of established contractual arrangements profit is
dependant upon realisin
the a
reed construction pro
Numerous instances of rework by all parties
3.1 Resulting in a slowing of work rates.
3.2 Reduced productivity and momentum on site.
3.3 Production of out of sequence work.
Frustration and aggravation experienced on site
4.1 Trades losing confidence in the architect.
4.2 More time spent b
all parties mana
and seekin
4.3 Solutions to errors and omissions sought on site placing additional strain on resources and
increased staffing costs.
Increased need for requests for information
5.1 Clarification of all inefficiencies, errors and omissions placing strain on site management time and
5.2 Significant programme delays due to lack of response or deferral of issue.
Decreased coordination of documentation
6.1 Documentation clashes between architectural intent and intended services and structure.
6.2 Resolution sought on site, placing additional drain on site personnel and trade contractor services.
Decreased coordination with shop drawin
7.1 Frustration felt by shop drafting technician due to lost time and late addenda notices.
7.2 Approvals and discrepancies experienced placing further strain on construction programme.
trade contractor pricin
of tender documentation
8.1 Prices submitted are higher, or alternatively no allowances are made for items cited as omitted
within design documentation.
8.2 Trade contractors make extra claims/ variations and extensions of time. This equates to a reduction
of project contingencies and margins available to the constructor.
Inefficiencies in details submitted
9.1 Common reliance on standard details that bear no reference to the resolution of project specific
9.2 Complexity of design not adequately depicted, or relying on resolution by structural engineer.
9.3 Time and resources utilised on site to ensure details are workable.
9.4 Increase in risk allocation to constructor and trade contractors.
10 Constructability issues experienced
10.1 Decreased construction knowledge of architectural professionals, demonstrated for example by a
material application not appropriate for the pro
ect specific utilisation.
10.2 Inefficiencies and strain on site resources and administration to manage discrepancies.
10.3 Poorer project outcome.
Table 1: Top 10 implications experienced in major building projects, from surveys and
interviews of construction industry member carried out in this research
A qualitative multi-method approach was
adopted for this research, incorporating direct
participant observation, questionnaire survey,
unstructured interviews and conversations with
participants. It embraced a constructivist
approach (Guba and Lincoln 1989, who build
on the work of Goodman 1984). In
constructivist research, outcomes are not
presented as “facts” – single independent
realities in the positivist tradition – but as
constructions (understandings) of, and as the
basis for making further constructions of, a
situation. These different constructions are
documented and made available to the
stakeholders in a reflexive process. Instead of
claiming objectivity, the positions of the
researchers are made clear in the
documentation of the work so that readers can
understand the positions taken, and criteria of
trustworthiness and authenticity used to
sustain the credibility of the results.
For the research reported in this paper, the
research team was a new graduate from an
Australian architecture program (the principal
researcher) and an experienced architect-
academic (providing research support and
advice). The constructions reported are the
principal researcher’s understandings of the
constructions of interviewed and surveyed
members of the building industry, backed up
by an extensive literature review. The
constructions of other stakeholders in the
project procurement process, most importantly
architects, were not sought or reported in this
research. It is solely focused on the building
industry’s view of the situation.
The core of the study has been participant
observation achieved through a prolonged
engagement of the principal researcher within
a nationally operating construction company.
This enabled the observation of work on
several projects with different building types
and consultants. Twenty-five people working in
the industry were interviewed, each
contributing their own values, beliefs and
experiences. Thirteen of these participants had
a background in general building and
construction, the others including professionals
with backgrounds in the fields of estimating,
cost planning, engineering, and one in
architecture. Twenty-one of them had more
than ten years experience in the industry. In
addition, a limited questionnaire survey was
undertaken to seek perceptions from a broader
group of stakeholders. Each survey participant
received identical questions, regardless of
background, experience or role held.
Triangulation and clarification was achieved by
subsequent interviews with most participants.
Following the undertaking in the agreement for
participation, in this paper all identifying
anecdotal and contextual information has been
Constructability is a “system for achieving
optimum integration of construction knowledge
in the building process and balancing the
various projects and environmental constraints
to achieve maximisation of project goals and
building performance” obtained through the
integration of construction expertise and
personnel during design development, thus
enabling the systematic establishment of
construction procedures and sequencing
techniques (see the Case Studies in the
Constructability Implementation Report in
Construction Industry Institute Australia 1996).
It is affirmed that constructability can result in
“tangible financial benefits to the client, more
straightforward design and lower development
costs for the designer” (Griffith and Sidwell
1995). However, the industry is not embracing
these processes. The impression from
participant observation in this research is that
constructability advice offered by the
constructor is not readily accepted by the
design team. Alternative buildability
approaches and sequencing, with potential for
considerable cost savings, have been
seemingly overlooked. Marked up drawings
returned to the architect by the site team have
been reissued omitting all suggested
alterations. This lack of response could be a
reflection of a process in which the information
offered was not effectively workshopped in an
open, non-accusatory, environment. It may
also be a result of insufficient funding of design
development in the competitive market for
architectural design services. Whatever the
reasons, in the experiences observed in this
research, the new constructability models are
not yet resulting in the anticipated reduction in
documentation problems.
In the last two decades the industry has
experimented with new styles of contract,
labelled “relationship contracting” (Martin
2004), aiming “to remove barriers; encourage
maximum contribution; and allow all parties to
achieve success” (Martin 2004). The new
approaches encompass Design and Construct,
Guaranteed Maximum Price, Partnering and
Alliancing. For example, the C21 Construction
Contract Conditions of the New South Wales
Department of Public Utilities and Services
were developed in response to “the
government’s reform process to reduce
adversarial and destructive attitudes prevalent
in the construction industry, and to encourage
the industry to adopt co-operative principles”
(Griffin 1997). So far these new contracts have
been mainly used in large infrastructure
projects. Martin contends that when a
guaranteed minimum profit on direct costs and
overheads is established through Partnering
and Alliance contracts it “is seen as likely to
foster a co-operative non-adversarial
relationship” (Martin 2004) between the
Design documentation should be fit for
purpose (Engineers Australia Queensland
Division Task Force, 2005, p. 7); unambiguous
and coherent; timely, accurate and complete;
easily communicated and constructed; and
coordinated with external consultant
documentation as appropriate (Tilley and
Barton 1997). Nevertheless, the questionnaire
responses and interviews conducted in this
research make it abundantly clear that
published recommendations and research
initiatives have not been promoted effectively
within the industry. Amongst the surveyed or
interviewed members of the Master Builders
Association of Australia (MBA), Society of
Engineers Australia, or Australian Institute of
Building (AIB), only 1% of respondents
referred to experience or knowledge of any
recommendation outlining documentation
deficiency management. From these
responses and interviews, the six main factors
listed below appear from a building industry
perspective to be leading to inadequate
architectural documentation.
1. External time pressures, placed on the
designer by the constructor, client, and
other consultants to complete
documentation and cross checking
procedures by a pre-determined time.
2. Disregard of required documentation
standards, through inadequate and
ineffective use of technology. This
includes poor application of CAD
techniques, inappropriate use of technical
detailing and lack of clarity.
3. Increasing pressure on architectural
services to become leaner “in order to
adapt to today’s increasingly volatile and
competitive environment” (Richardson,
1996, in Jaggar, Love, et al 1999). This
has caused a loss of experienced staff and
a “reduction of the quality of service
provided… causing an overload on those
available” (Tilley, McFallan, and Tucker,
4. Reduced consultancy fees.
5. Extensive use of CAD and direct
information transferral, removing
opportunities for cross-checking during
6. Coordination of architectural
documentation with structural, civil,
landscape architecture, interior design,
mechanical, electrical, technology and
security representatives (Rydeen, 2004) is
A series of additional factors were also cited.
Advanced construction methodologies and
materials, which have enabled more
sophisticated and complex designs to be
proposed. The specification or application
of materials relying on “the term ‘to
manufacturers specifications’ is leading to
the selection of inappropriate products and
design error” (Poulton, 2006).
Incomplete and inadequate development
of the project brief, based on unrealistic
expectations regarding time required and
cost limitations (Rydeen, 2004).
Inclusion of “catch all” clauses.
Contractual clauses (Tilley, McFallan and
Tucker 2000) which transfer risk from
consultants to builders in an increasingly
litigious society (Poulten, 2006) cause
builders to include allowances for items
not designed or specified.
Devaluing of the architectural profession
through “lowest tender” selection in which,
by definition, the winning tender has the
least money to do the design. Further,
Griffin suggests that “the element of
competition in an active market may mean
that submitted tender figures are
deliberately reduced in order to secure
employment, in the knowledge that
additional costs will be recovered once
work commenced” (Griffin 1995, p. 270).
Tendering pursued based on sketch plan
design documentation or partially
completed documentation (routinely
adopted by client organisations) in a bid to
transfer any potential design risk to the
Managing Contractor. There is a
consequent excessive production of
addendas through the tender process,
resulting in a working environment of
frustration and distrust.
Traditionally the constructor has been
expected to “provide a certain level of
expertise and design license depending on
the level of quality required” (Wilson
2000). However within today’s arbitral
environment there are fewer persons with
the qualifications and experience to
provide this service within the building
process. Additional restrictions are placed
on these activities by specified
professional liability insurance.
Reluctance throughout the industry to
actively embrace Quality Assurance (QA)
techniques leads to “missing, conflicting,
erroneous information within contract
documentation, [which] are major sources
of rework and customer dissatisfaction”
(Jaggar, Love, et al 1999).
Contractual arrangements, with a lack of
appreciation of the benefits of Partnering
and Alliancing.
During the tender process the industry
currently evaluates the perceived quality of
design documentation to assess
inconsistencies. A CSIRO survey
found that
generally “the quality of the design and
documentation did influence the price
submitted for tender…it also had an influence
on the time allowed for a project” (Tilley 2001).
In a construction management arrangement,
where the architect has been pre-selected and
the design documentation is thought by the
tenderer to be of a poor standard, the
constructor would submit an increased price.
Additionally, the constructor would seek
opportunities to secure compensating
variations, as permitted by contract conditions.
This trend is confirmed in Engineering
Documentation Standards of Australia (2000),
where an increase of submitted prices was
recorded by 93% of constructors with an
increase in time allowed for projects submitted
by 75% of constructors. Inevitably the process
has extended the time, taken on average, for
building estimators and planners to assess
tender documentation. This has placed strain
on the capacity of individuals to ensure that, in
the words of one construction company,
“construction documents will be free from
buildability problems to the extent that they will
not: be obviously erroneous; be too complex
for construction; be unable to be constructed
within the programmed time available; be likely
to result in serviceability or maintenance
problems during their operational life”. As a
result, some architectural offices which are
seen as commonly producing inaccurate and
deficient documentation are in essence ‘black
marked’ within the industry. With each tender
submission assessed on an individual basis,
the constructor places assessment priority on
projects with architects who have a proven
track record.
The quality of design documentation is
generally determined by how the professional
services are selected and how the fees are
negotiated (DeFraites 1989). Although the
RAIA Risk Management Procedures warn all
professional members that “charging cut price
fees won’t justify providing cut price services”
(Poulton 2006), where architects are selected
on the basis of lowest tender bid, then the
building industry experience is that the level
and quality of the service provided is likely to
be limited and generally translates into
additional project costs to the owner
(McGeorge 1988). Engineers Australia (2005)
contends that “an additional $1 spent in design
optimisation has the potential to save $10 in
construction and $100 in operating costs”.
Does this simply confirm the adage that “you
get what you pay for”? It has been argued that
architects “have compromised the quality of
their work to make their fees achievable. Either
the architect pays when fees are too low or
else the built environment – and therefore, the
image of the entire profession – suffers
(Kubany and Linn 1999). This perception was
reiterated by the research questionnaire with
77% of the responses supporting a proposition
that the architectural profession has de-valued
itself through the acceptance of lowest fee
submissions for professional services. Indeed,
architects have themselves accepted that “the
reduced levels of design fees have
detrimentally affected documentation
completeness, certainty, co-ordination and
final checking” (Tilley, McFallan and Tucker
2000). All professionals are representatives of
their profession’s core values (Beach 2003),
yet it has been claimed that fees submitted are
“substantially lower than the required fees
recommended to provide a comprehensive
and professional service” (Hudson 2002).
Tilley (2005) contends that architects spend,
on average, 20% more time on a project than
their budgets allow.
This research suggests that documentation
inconsistencies between building fabric,
structure and services are the most frequent
constructability problem experienced on site. A
typical example is an instance of ductwork and
maintenance catwalks allocated within the
same area, observed by the principal
researcher. More generally, maximising floor
areas within set building heights has lead to
restrictive ceiling cavities, providing
inadequate room for mechanical ductwork and
affecting the ability to install required electrical
and fire services. Buildability issues that arose
on site during this research appeared to the
builder to be due to a lack of in-house design
review within architectural companies. These
have included:
A fabricated steel staircase delivered to
the site without the mandatory handrail,
due to lack of coordination with the
engineering consultant. The contract
program was prolonged to facilitate
secondary fabrication and resulting trade
An entire secondary wall omitted from
drawing revisions, then later replaced
without confirmation.
Door schedules not updated to match
drawing revisions. Consequently, items
were tendered and ordered incorrectly.
Materials selected which were deemed
unsuitable for the purpose by their
Floor plans provided without allocated set
out points, with floating dimensions or
inaccurate radii – consequently more
building surveyor’s and site manager’s
time required to resolve the
Provision of documentation details
containing inaccurate material referencing,
indicative of reuse from previous unrelated
Incomplete information or insufficient detail
to construct what is required.
It is discoveries of issues at the “eleventh
hour” that have posed the most dramatic
construction problems on site. For instance, all
new contracted works within a large
refurbishment project were indicated within a
bordered/shaded area of the documentation.
As the building works progressed it became
apparent that additional items (external to the
shaded area) were required within the
demolition trade package. The trade contractor
deemed the items as additional work,
submitting a variation. The architect deemed
the items as “obvious work”, with a small note
appearing on the plan defining “all other works
not depicted will be the contractor’s
responsibility”. This assumption had
programming, planning and cost control
implications. Table 1 indicates the ten most
significant implications experienced within
major projects of the building and construction
industry of Australia at present, from the
builder’s perspective, based on the participant
observation and survey responses in this
Variations and extensions of time were the
main areas of dispute within construction and
building projects as a result of contractual
arrangements, with 60 – 90%
of all variations
attributed to poor project design
documentation (Engineers Australia
Queensland Division Task Force 2005, p.4.
This has led parties to adopt an adversarial
position to achieve dispute resolution.
Meanwhile rework, cited as the third most
prevalent implication, “can have an adverse
effect on a firm’s morale, profit and
productivity. It can also adversely affect, both
in monetary and non-monetary terms, other
participants” (Jaggar, Love et al 1999). It has
been argued that “it is impossible to create a
perfectly error free design” (Chappell and
Willis 1996, quoted in Arain, Assaf and Pheng
2005), but documentation deficiencies and
related problems appear to be more prevalent
within construction and building projects
compared with oil, gas, resource or heavy
engineering projects (Engineers Australia
Queensland Division Task Force 2005). This
perception was affirmed those individuals
surveyed who had previous experience in
these other fields.
The following recommendations seek to
address the problems from the industry’s point
of view.
Prompt on-site decisions: Active decision
making on site, including quick exploratory
sketches of a detail resolution or compromise
with the constructor/ trade contractor, was
highlighted as a positive attribute of the
experienced architect. The site instruction
would subsequently be formalised within the
office and submitted to the site for referencing.
Unfortunately, due to the adversarial nature of
the project environment an inexperienced
architect will not commit to such proceedings.
In many projects instructions will only be made
formally in writing upon direction from senior
partners and are often withheld for a period of
time. This process of “hold off – I’ll check and
get back to you” affects the site’s momentum.
The trade contractor is given the opportunity to
pursue Extension of Time claims or
discontinue work on site. Direct information
access systems, such as ACONEX, an
international documentation and management
system utilising the internet to manage the
storage and flow of information for projects in
the construction, engineering, and facilities
management industries (ACONEX 2007) do
enable data transfer between the architectural
office and the site location.
From the constructor’s perspective, it is
important to have regular site visits by
architects. Site staff, trade contractors and
suppliers then have the opportunity to clarify
issues or discrepancies upon discovery.
Compromise and resolution is sought in
minimal time, reaping benefits for the client
and ultimately the achievement of the contract
3D documentation: The ability to visualise
detailing in three dimensions, and working
through buildability issues as they arise, would
see a marked decrease in the amount of
rework currently experienced. Although a
major undertaking, more use should be made
of 3D detailing and digital modelling.
Builder engagement during the design and
documentation process: Architects should
strive to include constructors within the design
development process, in some capacity, as
early as possible. Incorporation from feasibility,
as optimally suggested (Construction Industry
Institute Australia 1996), is not commercially
practical within most contractual
arrangements. It is suggested, therefore, that
the constructor should be consulted at the
attainment of 40-75% of conceptual design
development to provide a measurable risk
analysis. If the constructor has not been
finalised by this stage, an independent
(perhaps semi-retired) site manager could be
employed on a casual basis as advisor. Direct
employment through the architect would
enable subjective and unbiased assistance for
all issues raised. Alternatively, a
representative of the prospective constructor
may be engaged by way of a service
agreement to advise on buildability,
programming, cost effectiveness and
comprehensiveness of documentation.
Suppliers should also be consulted earlier
within the development of documentation “so
as to acquire their expertise about design and
procurement issues” (Pearson 1999).
Collaborative approach to contracting:
Respondents commented that poorly
performing architectural consultants would
frequently seek to place the onus on dealing
with any discrepancy on the constructor.
Architects who sought resolution through
compromise, regardless of contractual
restrictions, were respected in the industry. A
collaborative approach to contracting,
regardless of contract format, should be
strongly promoted. One means to do this is
“start-up workshops” in which the client,
consultants and constructor are brought
together to define and agree relationship
frameworks, roles and responsibilities,
methodologies and risk management
procedures through open communication.
Documentation management protocols:
Consistent following of some straightforward
practices would reduce documentation
deficiencies and their impact on site
Mark each set of alterations made to
documentation as a new revision number.
Cloud each alteration individually
regardless of vicinity to any other
Attach and submit a comprehensive listing
of all alterations to accompany
documentation transmittal. Simple reliance
on the task/ revision bar does not provide
the detail required to convey the design
intention to all parties and can lead to
misunderstandings, reworking or variation
Physically print off each CAD drawing at
the completion of each design phase or
revision before transmittal to any external
sources. In-house review to be completed
by the person/s producing the drawing, a
nominated checker and senior staff.
Include and complete mandatory sign off
procedure for each drawing produced prior
to transmittal, with signatures under
“Drawn By:”, “Checked/ Reviewed By:”
and “Approved By”.
Accept all marked up drawings from the
constructor, trade contractor, service and
engineering consultants and implement
alterations immediately upon transmittal,
with confirmation back to source.
Education: Questionnaire responses show a
strong majority view (73%) that architectural
graduates are unprepared when entering the
workforce, and that practical knowledge of
construction technologies is lacking. Specific
areas highlighted include:
Buildability principles and promotion of
constructability procedures;
Interfacing with service / other consultants-
with particular emphasis on electrical and
Interfacing with superstructure trades,
including timber and structural steel;
Costing and lead times for materials;
Safety and access requirements during
Most respondents advocated direct interfacing
with the worksite as a part of professional
development or required for registration as an
architect. It was thought that the decline of
standards of design documentation would be
curbed if practising architects were aware of
the effects of their work, not only on project
outcomes but also on the personal stress
imposed on the people in the project team.
Educators observe that an architectural
graduate has only completed a maximum of
5/7ths of the time expected for registration as
a professional architect in any state of
Australia. Upon leaving university, they should
be regarded as apprentices within the industry.
Commencing salaries reflect this status. It
remains the role of the architectural employer
to ensure practical experience is obtained
during the remaining 2/7ths of their education
towards registration, an education in the
aspects of architecture that are impossible to
cover with the large classes and enforced
isolation from the realities of building that
exists in the academy. Unfortunately, as a
result of the pressure on the architectural
services to become leaner, it has become
increasingly difficult for companies to consider
graduates as apprentices and learners. They
are expected to perform as full professionals,
often to an unrealistic degree.
The relations between design decisions and
processes in the constructability, programming
and cost control of major projects within the
building and construction industry of Australia
have been explored. Participant observation
during this research supports the assertion by
those surveyed and interviewed that some
problems experienced on site can be traced to
architectural design decisions, inaccurate
documentation, deficient specifications or
ineffective knowledge of construction
technologies. Increased constructability,
resulting in more efficient, lower cost
construction, can be achieved within the
construction industry without compromising
architectural standards and values, if
communication and collaboration are
This research has sought to understand the
constructions of people within the building
industry of the effectiveness of design
documentation processes. We are well aware
that the construction of the situation by
architects may well be different. At the smaller
scale of building construction, particularly,
architects complain that builders and their
subcontractors do not appear to read drawings
and specifications and do not appear to
maintain adequate quality control.
No single recommendation presented within
this paper has the capacity to individually
change design and documentation
deficiencies. However, we are confident that
the situation can be improved. Confidence in
the architect, in architecture and in good
design must be regained within the industry.
We thank those people interviewed or who
contributed in other ways to this research. We
particularly thank the construction company
that made possible and facilitated the surveys,
interviews and participant observation
methodology in this research.
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... Notwithstanding this, no known research has been undertaken to specifically investigate the quality of design documentation and the factors that influence it within the context of the South African construction industry. Although lessons could be drawn from studies undertaken in different countries (Abdalaziz, 2009;Love et al., 2006;Minato, 2003;Mohammed, 2007;Philips-Ryder et al., 2013;Samuel, 2011;Slater and Radford, 2012;Tilley et al., 1997;Tilley et al., 1999) and in South Africa (Windapo and Cloete, 2012), a significant number of these studies were undertaken in the context of developed countries in Europe and Asia and focused on identifying and ranking the factors within the design process that influence the quality of design documentation. There has been limited attempt to explore the nature of the interrelationships amongst these factors or to quantitatively illustrate their collective impact on design documentation quality. ...
... (Davis et al., 2009). Results from studies undertaken in a number of countries: Australia (Mclennan and Parminter, 2001;Slater and Radford, 2012;Tilley et al., 1997;Tilley et al., 1999), Japan (Minato, 2003), Lithuania (Samofalov and Papinigis, 2010), UK (Samuel, 2011) and Saudi Arabia (Darwish, 2007) indicate a general perception of the existence of poor and a continued decline in the quality of design documentation. The inadequacies identified in the design documentation include missing information, uncoordinated and conflicting information in the various documents provided, incomplete information, non-applicable details, lack of clarity and failure to use standard details where suitable (Darwish, 2007;Minato, 2003;Samuel, 2011;Tilley et al., 1999). ...
... In a significant number of studies, the quality of design documentation was determined based on the perceived level of incorporation of the design documentation quality attributes (Darwish, 2007;Minato, 2003;Slater and Radford, 2012;Tilley et al., 1999). However, some authors suggest alternative and objective indicators that could be used to gauge the quality of design documentation. ...
... Notwithstanding this, no known research has been undertaken to specifically investigate the quality of design documentation and the factors that influence it within the context of the South African construction industry. Although lessons could be drawn from studies undertaken in different countries (Abdalaziz, 2009;Love et al., 2006;Minato, 2003;Mohammed, 2007;Philips-Ryder et al., 2013;Samuel, 2011;Slater and Radford, 2012;Tilley et al., 1997;Tilley et al., 1999) and in South Africa (Windapo and Cloete, 2012), a significant number of these studies were undertaken in the context of developed countries in Europe and Asia and focused on identifying and ranking the factors within the design process that influence the quality of design documentation. There has been limited attempt to explore the nature of the interrelationships amongst these factors or to quantitatively illustrate their collective impact on design documentation quality. ...
... (Davis et al., 2009). Results from studies undertaken in a number of countries: Australia (Mclennan and Parminter, 2001;Slater and Radford, 2012;Tilley et al., 1997;Tilley et al., 1999), Japan (Minato, 2003), Lithuania (Samofalov and Papinigis, 2010), UK (Samuel, 2011) and Saudi Arabia (Darwish, 2007) indicate a general perception of the existence of poor and a continued decline in the quality of design documentation. The inadequacies identified in the design documentation include missing information, uncoordinated and conflicting information in the various documents provided, incomplete information, non-applicable details, lack of clarity and failure to use standard details where suitable (Darwish, 2007;Minato, 2003;Samuel, 2011;Tilley et al., 1999). ...
... In a significant number of studies, the quality of design documentation was determined based on the perceived level of incorporation of the design documentation quality attributes (Darwish, 2007;Minato, 2003;Slater and Radford, 2012;Tilley et al., 1999). However, some authors suggest alternative and objective indicators that could be used to gauge the quality of design documentation. ...
... Therefore in a bid to enhance project efficiency, there is the need for an improvement in design documentation quality. This poor quality has been in existence over the past decades [20,25,35,36] and often denies clients from achieving value for money [21]. ...
... The quality of design documentation produced for most construction projects continue to decrease despite numerous efforts by both researchers and practitioners over the years to improve the quality [25][26][27]35,36]. Various strategies such as increasing design fees, design and documentation coordination, independent reviews, setting standards for documentation quality control and service, education on constructability, and accountability of design consultants have been proposed to help improve design documentation quality [3]. ...
... Analysis indicates that lack of quality control criteria imposed by statutory authorities on design outputs had a mean score of 3.80 representing the highest ranked factor while frequent statutory changes in regulations and requirements scored a mean of 3.31 as the least score. These factors are consistent with studies by [3,6,7,14,19,20,30,31,35,36,39,45,48,[50][51][52][53]. The conclusion and recommendation is presented in the next section. ...
Full-text available
There are numerous studies on design documentation variables without efforts to evaluate their level of importance. Therefore, the aim of this study is to evaluate the significance of these variables towards improving design documentation quality. A questionnaire survey to identify the significance of key quality variables was carried out. A total of 139 variables on design documentation quality were used. The mean score and Standard deviation of each factor were used to determine the level of significance. Based on responses from 112 construction industry players, the significance of each variable is determined. Design documentation is fit for purpose was considered highly important as an attribute while Inadequate and Insufficient documentation was ranked highest for quality influential factors. The findings will provide valuable data to stakeholders, researchers, and academics and will help enhance project performance because professionals will be aware of key factors that can influence design documentation quality. It will also aid in providing solution to sustainable infrastructure design and delivery challenges in the industry. The study offers a pragmatic data and empirical evidence to expand knowledge on design documentation quality. It is the first of its kind that explored the significance of design documentation quality variables based on the outcome of a meta-synthesis.
... Effective collaboration is dependent on effective communication; this is pertinent for collaborative designers, as the architectural intent is often miscommunicated, leading to a waste of time and resources (Slater et al. 2012). Research into ways for improving visual design communication is therefore especially valuable for designers, and through a combination of different visual communication methods it is expected that fewer mistakes will be made in built environment projects due to the enhanced understanding provided by VR and AR. ...
... However, no studies were found that identified organizational variables in a systematic way. As engineering services cost could be decomposed into design cost and supervision cost, to identify all relevant variables and provide a comprehensive list, studies associated with: design deficiencies [13][14][15]46]; design changes [12,16,17]; and design errors [18,19,47] were also reviewed. It should be acknowledged that this literature review resulted in identifying a variety of factors. ...
Current approaches to automating cost estimation mainly focus on construction costs. Yet, the two main services provided by design firms, namely ‘designing the project’, and ‘supervision of construction operations’ labelled as engineering services, despite their comparatively low cost, can significantly affect the total cost of construction projects as they can engender reworks, changes and disputes on project participants during the subsequent stages of the project. Continuous evaluation of engineering services' cost overruns (ESCO) is quintessentially important in order to prevent consequential problems later on in the project's development and use. Consequently, this research proposes a robust random forest (RF) regression model to predict ESCOs considering both project-related and organizational-related variables. A database consisting of 95 high-rise residential building projects designed during the past eight years in Iran, along with 12 related variables, were collected to develop and validate the model. The results were also compared with those of support vector regression (SVR) and multiple linear regression (MLR), which indicated that with an R² value of 0.8680 and mean-absolute-error (MAE) of 3.88, the RF regression model performs better than those baseline models, namely SVR and MLR. This research presents two main contributions to the existing body of knowledge. From the practical point of view, it provides an efficient tool for design firms enabling them to screen and prioritize their projects from the cost overrun standpoint and to devise a contingency plan for them. From the theoretical point of view, it revealed that to mitigate ESCOs, three key factors should be given thorough consideration, namely: ‘the level of computer-aided design technologies adoption’; ‘level of communication among the project team’; and scope definition adequacy’ – cumulatively, these three factors contribute to 52.35% of ESCO variations.
... Dosumu and Iyagba (2013) identified that insufficient funds to create a quality document and designer experience are two principal factors leading to DDs. In another study, Dosumu et al. (2017) also identified insufficient time as one of the most crucial contributory factors to DDs. Slater and Radford (2012) carried out a survey of Australian construction professionals regarding the causes of poor design documents. Their study revealed that work overload and lack of coordination can give rise to DDs. ...
Purpose The purpose of this study is to investigate the latent interrelationships of causes and effects of design deficiencies (DDs) and to identify the most crucial ones by considering the interactions among them. Design/methodology/approach First, through a comprehensive literature review, the most critical causes of DDs were identified. The review eventuated in a list of 22 causes and 12 effects, which were categorized into six groups. Second, through the rules of system dynamics and the interactions between the causes and effects were modeled and illustrated using causal loop diagrams (CLDs). With the aid of semi-structured interviews with 20 competent experts, the resultant CLDs were also validated. Third, the opinions of 54 experts, who were chosen from the Iranian community of clients and consultants, were solicited concerning the degree of influence which each factor (causes or effects) exerts on others. Finally, the social network analysis (SNA) approach was deployed to analyze and prioritize factors based on the gathered data from experts. Findings SNA results indicated that factors such as “design firms' staff rework” and “design firms' loss of reputation” are the most central factors affecting DDs. The model results also identified that factors such as “schedule variance”, “workload” and “lack of quality control and supervision during the design phase” have the highest overall impact on DDs. In the end, some recommendations to address major factors and links were also put forward. Overall, more communications between the pair of stakeholder groups and continuous learning from project experiences are believed to be the main strategies. Originality/value It is believed that this study has provided a comprehensive understanding of causal mechanisms among factors, which can assist project managers of different parties (clients, contractors and consulting firms) in taking more effective actions to ameliorate the quality of design documents.
... Globally, poor quality design documentation is prevalent and an area of concern within the construction sector, for example in Australia ( Tilley et al., 1997Tilley et al., , 1999bMcFallan, 2000a, 2000b;Slater and Radford, 2012;Philips-Ryder et al., 2013), Japan (Minato, 2003), UK (Laryea, 2011), Nigeria ( Dosumu and Iyagba, 2013) and Ghana (Fatawu, 2016). ...
Purpose The poor quality of design documentation has been identified as a significant contributor to delays, rework and cost overruns on construction projects in South Africa. Despite this, limited research has been undertaken to specifically investigate the quality of design documentation. This in turn hampers efforts aimed at improving the quality of the design documents. The aim of this study is to identify the key quality attributes of design documentation and determine the extent to which the design documents issued on South African construction projects are perceived to incorporate the quality attributes. Design/methodology/approach A survey questionnaire was distributed among civil engineering design consultants and contractors in the South African construction industry. Responses to a total of 120 completed questionnaires were statistically analysed. The relative importance and extent of incorporation of the quality attributes was determined based on the mean scores. Findings It emerged from the study that the two key quality attributes of design documentation were legibility and coordinated design documentation. Attributes with the least importance were relevancy and certainty. Regarding the incorporation of the quality attributes, the design documents were rated highly with respect to their legibility and clarity. The quality of the documentation was deemed inadequate in terms of accuracy and certainty. Practical implications The findings provide valuable insight to stakeholders involved in developing initiatives aimed at improving the quality of design documentation and as a result construction project performance. Originality/value The study provides empirical evidence and extends the literature on design documentation quality especially from the perspective of South Africa, a developing country.
Technical Report
This report is the product of a research project undertaken jointly by the ARBV and NSW ARB to identify current and future systemic compliance issues and associated risks affecting regulation of the architecture profession in Australia. The project was initiated in light of a range of recent developments affecting the profession, including high-profile cases here and abroad alleging negligence of architects, reviews of the Australian construction sector that have raised questions about the role of architects in sectoral outcomes, and various emerging disruptive forces that may have an impact upon the provision of architectural services by architects. The primary purpose of the project is to assist the ARBV and NSW ARB to target proactive regulatory activity so that systemic risks can be mitigated. This type of regulatory activity is designed to pre-empt and prevent regulatory non-compliance by architects and, in turn, avoid harm to clients and end-users of architectural services. The findings highlight the need for a collaborative and coherent approach across the sector to manage and, ideally, avert the materialisation of systemic risks. The report identifies the role that various other stakeholders can also play to address risk, including architects, industry bodies, providers of education and training to architects, as well as government. A key message emerging from the report is the critical importance of regulation in delivering positive outcomes for the sector. Compliance by architects with professional standards and their broader regulatory obligations will help architects to thrive notwithstanding the challenges that current market conditions create and, in turn, will ensure that the interests of clients and end-users are protected. As regulators of the profession in Victoria and NSW respectively, the ARBV and NSW ARB remain committed to supporting architects in complying with the regulatory framework. The findings of this project intersect with a broad spectrum of issues that concern the current state and future of architecture as a profession in Australia. While some of the risks identified may come as no surprise, this report provides an unprecedented perspective on the implications of such risks for the two largest regulators of the profession in Australia. The intent of this project’s findings is to foster progress in existing discussions and provide the basis for further research and joint initiatives among regulators and other stakeholders, including professional bodies and academia. The outcome of this project is the result of a collaboration steered by a joint working group from the ARBV and NSW ARB. We are thankful to Dariel De Sousa of Dart Legal & Consulting and acknowledge her contribution to the research, preparation of the report, and patient coordination and consolidation of inputs from the working group. We are also thankful to the Registrars, Dr Glenice Fox (ARBV) and Dr Kirsten Orr (NSW ARB), for their coordinated effort that brought this project to life. We finally wish to thank all members of the working group and the Board members of the ARBV and NSW ARB for supporting the establishment and funding of the research.
Purpose Construction projects require a range of documents (e.g. drawings and specifications) prepared by built environment professionals. In recent years, there has been a perception amongst professionals that quality of documentation has declined. “Low” professional fees were cited as one of the reasons for poor quality documentation. However, most studies on the topic contained inappropriate methodologies. Therefore, the purpose of this paper was to develop a conceptual methodology to comprehensively examine the relationship between fees and professional service output quality. Design/methodology/approach A systematic literature review (SLR) was conducted to evaluate the limitations of previous methodologies and identify variables in the relationship between fees and quality of professional service outputs. Findings from the SLR were used to develop a conceptual methodology to investigate the relationship between fees and quality of professional service outputs. Findings Based on a frequency analysis of factors in the construction literature, the three main variables influencing professional service output quality were fees, coordination and amount of time available for project tasks. The SLR and shortcomings in previous studies informed the development of a conceptual methodology to examine the relationship between fees and professional service output quality. Practical implications The conceptual methodology will assist in comprehensively investigating the effect of fees on the quality of professional service outputs. This is particularly relevant in countries where clients procure built environment professional services based on the lowest fee tendered but are concerned about quality. The methodology can establish how and to what extent “low” fees impact on professional service output quality. Industry professionals can also use variables identified in this paper to mitigate quality-related risks when producing professional service outputs. Originality/value This paper adds to the body of knowledge by identifying variables in the relationship between fees and professional service output quality. The identified variables can be monitored and controlled by researchers during future investigations. Additionally, a conceptual methodology was proposed to assist researchers to determine the effect of fees on professional service output quality. The flexibility of the conceptual methodology enables it to comprehensively investigate other key variables (apart from fees) impacting on professional service output quality.
A meta-synthesis approach was used to identify, synthesize, and categorize appropriately factors in the literature that contribute to design documentation quality. The categories include factors on quality attributes, quality indicators, and quality-influencing factors. Findings indicate that the quality of design documentation in practice is unsatisfactory, therefore, there is a need for collaboration between the owner, designers, and end-users to improve design documentation quality. The results offer pragmatic data on design documentation quality in the construction industry between the years 1992 and 2019. However, further research on the significant impacts of poor-quality design documentation on construction projects is recommended.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The quality of design and documentation has a major influence on the overall performance and efficiency of construction projects. As designers provide the graphic and written representations which allow contractors and subcontractors to transform concepts and ideas into physical reality, it is the efficiency with which this transformation occurs that determines the level of project performance and efficiency achieved. Poor design and documentation quality is a major cause of construction process inefficiency, leading directly to delays, rework and variations, and contributing to increases in project time and cost, for both client and contractors alike. This paper outlines an Australian study that was undertaken to investigate not only the causes for a perceived decline in the quality of design and documentation being provided to Australian contractors, but also the effects that poor quality design and documentation have on construction process efficiency. The paper outlines the overall aims of the study and highlights the results achieved from a national survey of designers and contractors. The main factors affecting design and documentation quality, as well as their impact on the construction process and the industry as a whole, are identified. Approaches to improve the levels of design and documentation quality are also proposed.
Full-text available
Poor design and documentation quality has been identified as being a major factor in reducing the overall performance and efficiency of construction projects as well as being directly responsible for many projects running over budget, over time and being plagued with rework, variations and disputa-tion. Recent studies show that this problem is not only widespread, but continues to get worse in spite of the negative impact it's having on the construction industry. In a similar way, project management deficiencies have also been shown to have a negative impact on construction process efficiency. However, by adapting Lean Production principles and viewing construction in terms of "production" as opposed to "transformation", the concept of Lean Construction has been promoted as being successful in improving overall construction process efficiency, by improving the management of construction project operations. Whilst recent studies into design and documentation quality problems have focused on a variety of external factors (ie. design fees, design time, procurement methodology, ICT, etc.), as being the key to improving overall quality, this paper investigates whether the way in which the design process is managed, may provide more immediate and easily measurable results. Lean Design Management (LDM)—the introduction of "lean production" principles to the process of design—has been promoted as a new paradigm by which the design process can be made more efficient and better quality outcomes achieved. As part of an ongoing study into "theory-based lean project and production management", this paper reviews the LDM approach to determine how new it really is and whether its implementation has the potential to achieve the design and documentation quality improvements required.
Managing the Building Design Process explains the designer's role in the creation of new buildings from the development of the plan through to completion. One key case study is used throughout the book so that the reader can clearly follow the process leading to the creation of a new building. This new edition expands on the first edition including sections on CAD and sustainability; incorporating updates to legislation and adding new illustrations as well as discussion points and useful references at the end of every chapter. © 2000, 2006, Gavin Tunstall. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Architectural and engineering firms concerned with design have eschewed implementing quality assurance (QA) systems and other subsequent aspects of quality such as continuous improvement. Their reluctance to embrace QA has been found to be a factor that contributes to poor quality contract documentation being produced. Missing, conflicting, erroneous information within contract documentation, are major sources of rework and customer dissatisfaction in construction projects. This paper suggests that if design firms are to significantly improve the quality of service they provide, they should implement ISO 9000 quality management and assurance standards. A case study is used to identify the factors that inhibited 'value creation' and poor service quality provided by design firms involved in a structural steel supply chain. The need for design firms to implement ISO-9000 quality management and assurance standards so as to improve their service quality is discussed based on the case study findings.
The question of design productivity is approached by reviewing work carried out in construction and manufacturing. Principles of productivity improvement are denned and applied to design. The design process is examined as part of the project life cycle to draw the conclusion that the quality of design is a vital factor in determining total life cost and other measures of project success. Since design cost is a small percentage of total costs, an increase in design expenditure can frequently reduce total life costs, but this is discouraged by the structure of the industry; especially the system of payment for consultants, and the tendency of clients to sub-optimize the design costs. Competitive bidding by consultants also has undesirable effects. It is concluded that attention should be given to the procedures for consultant selection, the basis of fee payment and the question of professionalism and standards. Better and earlier communication with the contractor is needed. Further research should be conducted on the management of the design process, with particular attention given to training and human capital formation.
The study focuses on the causes of discrepancies at the design and construction interface in large building projects. To achieve the study objectives, a questionnaire survey was carried out to collect information on potential causes of discrepancies at the project design and construction interface.Responses from 48 consultants and contractors were analyzed. The results suggest that the lack of coordination, insufficient working drawing details, involvement of designer as consultant, involvement of contractor as consultant and participants' honest wrong beliefs were considered as the most important causes of discrepancies at the project design and construction interface. On the other hand, project management as a professional service, the nationality of the professional firms and involvement of the contractor in design phases were least important causes of discrepancies between professionals at the project design and construction interface in large building projects.
This paper highlights that design teams should take the lead to enhance the buildability and constructability of their projects. Through a questionnaire survey, the significant factors affecting buildability have been identified and classified into those related to the design process and design outcome, respectively. Results show that efforts in (i) carrying out thorough site and ground investigations prior to design; (ii) coordinating design documents, components, and working sequences; as well as (iii) designing for standardisation, repetition, safety and ease of construction, would enhance buildability and constructability for any given projects. The ANOVA statistical technique has also identified 3 buildability attributes associated with (a) below-ground works on nearby buildings, (b) imports of materials and (c) working space on site, which had statistically significant differences among the perceptions of Clients, Consultants and Contractors.