12 April 2012

Not all details are equal

I recently followed this link in the NRCA SmartBrief: "Modular construction could boost efficiency of construction projects." It led to an article titled "Construction officials pushing prefab revival", which touts the advantages of modular construction. The opening paragraph acknowledges the "technique [is] hundreds of years old" but modular design may be a foreign concept today.

Modular dimensioning has been with us for a long time, and is almost inescapable for some things; masonry units are modular, and partitions rely on modular dimensions for framing and sheathing. And, although they're not modular in the same sense, many products at least come in standard sizes. In each case, the consistent properties make these products easier to know and to use.

06 April 2012

What happened to the bidding period?

In the good old days, not all that long ago, the architect's work was divided into a few neat phases: schematic design (SD), design development (DD), construction documents (CD), bidding or negotiation, and construction.

In theory, the requirements of each phase are completed before moving on to the next. In practice, it seems we have strayed from the true path.

When I started my present job, more than fifteen years ago, projects progressed through the phases in a fairly linear manner. We didn't issue many addenda, and the ones we did issue were short. Since then, schedules have shrunk, and the separation between phases has blurred. We now do full specs at DD, even though they have little value because many decisions have not been made, and some design issues remain unresolved until the CDs are issued - or beyond. Addenda are common, and lager; I occasionally see one that is half the size of one of the project manual volumes, accompanied by many drawing sheets.