When considering these issues, a realistic assessment of the process involved and the time required for resolution should be made by the project team and incorporated into the project schedule as early as possible.
During the programming and design phases it is particularly important that interdisciplinary communication occur in timely, routine and regimented fashion. The architects and engineers should regularly review progress with each other and confirm that adequate attention has been given to internal quality assurance, coordination of various design disciplines, and manufacturers' specifications. Once construction begins, periodic field inspections should be performed to ensure conformance of the work with the design. Specific recommendations to mitigate potential errors and omissions include:
- Assure that the most up-to-date and complete set of contract documents have been distributed to all involved parties.
- Conduct an adequate number of geotechnical probes and geological surveys so to reduce the potential for encountering differing and unknown site conditions during construction.
- Conduct third-party design reviews, which is particularly important when novel techniques, materials and applications have been specified.
- Minimize the use of novel techniques, materials and applications with a fast-track or design-build model.
Project Management and Controls
The success of construction projects hinges largely on the experience and decision-making capabilities of its management team, and the control systems in use. Key issues and recommendations to consider include:
- Monitor progress on a routine basis and develop recovery plans. Evaluating and a troubling issue can be a complex exercise, best accomplished by using a well-defined management structure and systematic cost control system. Once the root causes have been isolated, project participants should develop methods to effectively resolve these issues. Implementation must proceed rapidly and changes in progress must be monitored continually.
- Ensure that oversight roles are communicated and disseminated to all project participants, and that adequate numbers of skilled project supervision is in place.
- Establish document controls and reporting protocols that correspond to the size and complexity of the project.
- Assure that internal quality assurance and control programs are in place and that they are followed.
The evolution of an abstract idea into a fully-built project can take years, sometimes decades. The process is complex and requires the creative efforts of dozens of skilled and experienced construction professionals, who along the way are charged with addressing and resolving thousands of decisions. While difficult - if not impossible - to accurately predict the vagaries of politics, weather and economics, following these straightforward guidelines will tend to mitigate many of the risks that can impact performance on a construction project.
Wayne H. Kalayjian is a director with in LECG's real estate and construction advisory practice in Los Angeles. He has over 25 years of industry experience, with specialties in construction cost investigations and project audits, defect actions, cost estimating, financial controls, organizational change, and process improvement. Mr. Kalayjian is a licensed professional engineer in several states, and has testified as a construction damages and liability expert in federal and state courts across the country. He holds academic degrees in civil engineering from Tufts University, structural engineering from Stanford University, and business management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Wayne can be contacted at (310) 712-0149 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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