Is architecture software the secret to solving construction errors?
The latest data from the Get It Right Initiative (GIRI), the group working to improve quality and productivity in the UK construction industry, shows that 10-25% of unforeseen construction project costs are due to errors. These errors amount to annual costs between £10 billion and £25 billion. Researching the root causes of these errors, GIRI identified ten top issues, including poorly communicated design information, late design changes, inadequate attention paid in the design to construction stages and ineffective communication between team members. Four out of the ten top issues are down to communication. With the latest software advances and enhanced connectivity, communication breakdown is easy to remedy. So, how can free architecture software cut these avoidable costs and keep all stakeholders better connected?
A digital blueprint in every pocket
The intricate paper-based architectural plan is fast becoming a thing of the past. Advances architectural software and smartphone technology mean that clients and contractors expect a plan in their pocket, updated in real-time to the latest version and accessible whenever and wherever they need it.
Architectural models are evolving too. Traditional physical models, although still required by many clients, are also being replaced with digital-based 3D building information modelling (BIM). These detailed and adaptable models are integrated with the digital blueprint, providing a clear, visual interpretation of the 2D architectural plan that can help to flag any conflicts that might occur between design and engineering stages.
Plans are no longer rigid and unchanging. They need to be accurate, realistic and true to the client’s wishes but they need to reflect the current situation on-site and any avoidable changes that occur during construction.
The best free architecture software has a creative space for architects to sketch, experiment a draft a plan. When a blueprint has been created, this can be shared with the client and main contractors, providing a collaborative space to discuss changes and agree on a final plan. Communication starts at this stage. All stakeholders can freely express concerns and begin a virtuous circle of feedback and learning.
PlanRadar, one of the easiest architecture software to use, includes creative and collaborative spaces. Once a blueprint is finalised, it becomes the single point of truth for the entire project. Stakeholders have access to the information relevant to them, design changes are released to all team members in real-time and defects can be recorded and tracked live. There’s no limit to the size and scale of a project and multi-level inputs allow for easy navigation between plans for each floor. Everything is linked to the original architectural plan.
Quick quotes get the project flowing
Creating this single point of truth, from the outset, is the first vital step in improving communication. With an agreed architectural plan, contractors can provide a more accurate estimation and quotes become a collaborative process too. Specified products can be changed to reflect the client’s preferences, supply issues can be identified early on and quotes can be constructed from an integrated, accurate data pool of pricing information.
An accurate quote, benchmarked and checked against reference projects, is the beginning of a client relationship based on trust. When a project runs to budget, the client is much more likely to work with architects and contractors again. And, of course, a simple estimation tool, based on a pool of accurate data, means faster quotes. Construction starts – and finishes – sooner.
Developing a single source of truth
An architect’s work doesn’t stop when construction begins. Changes are inevitable and even the best-planned project will be subject to issues that only arise once construction begins. Architectural software is vital at this stage too.
With the blueprint as the single source of truth, main contractors and sub-contractors can provide real-time feedback as construction progresses. PlanRadar software allows any defect to be tagged directly to the architectural plan. The exact position of the defect, as well as any images, written notes and verbal detail, can be uploaded for access by supervisors. Every defect ticket can be fully tracked through to completion and integrated with other projects, punch lists are compiled, delivery dates set and the responsible people appointed.
If a design change is needed, architects can upload a new blueprint in real-time, make it available to all users and carry over all defect logs and tickets. Construction projects become transparent and open, nurturing a culture of trust between all stakeholders and providing peace of mind to the client.
As-built plans, as you build
Even the best plans can be open to interpretation and unless you are on-site every day, it’s hard to fully understand the challenges presented as projects progress. With full access to real-time data, images and inspection reports, off-site stakeholders can see the full picture and are just as involved in the decisions made on-site. Architects can receive full feedback on all design elements and any issues or learnings can be carried forward to future projects. This intervention provides the evolution needed to tackle some of the large issues facing construction today.
Once a construction project is complete, many clients request ‘as-built’ plans. This documentation traditionally includes the two-dimensional blueprint but increasingly clients are requesting the addition of as-built BIM 3D models. These plans give full documentation of the exact final design and all its parts. As-built plans are crucial for ongoing building maintenance, as well as providing vital documentation for sale and avoiding expense conveyancing costs. These plans have long been a source of frustration for both architects and contractors. Who holds the most accurate data and who should complete the final checks to provide this information to the client?
With ongoing defect tracking and design plan updates, architectural software can automatically create the majority of the as-built design as the project progresses.
PlanRadar provides a full audit trail of every change and defect, time-stamped and with full searchable detail. Architects and contractors work together to produce this plan throughout the project. The final as-built design and project detail can be downloaded in a fully customised and branded report and it is built as the construction project evolves.
Embracing a culture of continuous improvement
By committing to a more collaborative and technology-driven approach to design and construction, all stakeholders benefit from improved communication. This closed loop provides valuable feedback, nurturing understanding and leading to a culture of continuous improvement. Ultimately, this leads to more efficient and cost-effective construction projects. Where clients see their expectations met or exceeded, you can expect repeat business. The right architecture software provides full transparency and true collaboration, and this is only the beginning.