Design for Construction: A Dying Art (That Does Still Exist)

Make sure whoever is doing your construction design understands construction!

Lately I’ve heard stories of Building Contractors starting work on site in line with a set of Architect’s drawings labelled “For Construction”, yet when they ring their Architect for clarity on the drawings they’re told that the Architect considers their work complete. It’s no wonder there has historically been divide between the Designers and the Builders with this going on. I’m a firm believer that everybody on the Client’s appointed team is working towards the same goal, (and being paid to achieve that goal). The Builders I’ve worked with over the last couple of years have actively praised the level of detail they’re presented with at the time of the build. Praise is always nice, but knowing that the drawings have sufficient information on for the Builders to take over is the fundamental point of architectural drawings.

Questions will always come up, for example, a specified product may not be available within the time available, or when a wall is removed there are unexpected pipes within. If a Client is paying me for construction drawings, then to me this means that an initial stab at the drawings isn’t sufficient. The drawings for construction are the final hurdle in getting the job done, and so if questions need answering, then quite simply, they’re answered.

I honestly believe a lot of Designers shy away from providing construction level drawings and site support simply because they are not easy things do to. It really separates the serious Designers from the Concept Artists. It’s a harsh truth but I’m sure if you ask most Builders they will agree.

Visual Designers and 3D Modellers can be great at what they do, but in order to see the job through to completion the importance of a Designer who understands the construction detailing is critical.

Historically I’ve taken over many jobs where there may have been tensions between the previous designer and the Building Contractor. I’ve turned up to meet the already frustrated team, (which as a 5’7 introvert who has a tendency to blush, can be a daunting experience). But what I’ve learned is that one thing always turns the job around; and that is competence. If you’re a worker, and a competent one, then it’s not a case of if you can make the job a success, it’s just a case of how fast you can do it.

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