Hi friends 👋
This week we are covering level 3 of the construction technology competency.
DISCLAIMER: The following is not an exhaustive set of notes, but it's an attempt to help those who, like me at the beginning, did not know where to start! Please feel free to let me know if I have said anything incorrect or out of date!
So what is Level 3 Construction Technology all about?
The RICS note that to demonstrate competence at Level 3, you need demonstrate your ability to:
Advise on the selection and application of particular processes within your area of experience. This should include liaison with specialists and consultants to develop project specific design and construction solutions.
Advising on the choice of construction solutions for your project
There is a fine line between a QS and an actual designer. The truth is it’s a line that we as QS professionals should never cross because we don’t have the skill set (unless you’re also moonlighting as an architect / engineer). Traditional QS’s are not covered by normal cover when it comes to designing work. In my career so far, especially when estimating bespoke projects which have limited formal design input, it almost feels like you are the designer.
What this bullet point is asking you is to recall situations where a client may come to you with a proposed requirement and you have offered potential solutions based on previous experience (either practical or theoretical).
The context of this bullet point will vary from project to project, sector to sector so it will be useful for you to do a brainstorm and ascertain what alternative solutions could have been used for your current project (if any) and identify why the current solution was chosen.
For example, if your client wants to build a house on land which is known to be of poor bearing strength, then you can consider several foundation options. Let’s assume you don’t have a ground survey report yet, the thought process may be the following:
If the ground conditions are really poor we may need to utilise a piled foundation system to support the house. We know from previous experience that piles for housing costs approximately £x p/pile or m2 (depending what metric you have readily available).
If the ground conditions are in a medium state, we may behave to use deep strip foundations. The extra over cost for this is £x.
Maybe the ground conditions will reveal that the land actually has decent bearing strength, therefore you may propose traditional strip foundations.
Obviously, the above is a very basic framework but you should be able to apply it to your own context. If you don’t know the alternative options, ask your colleagues or if you are working closely with the designers ask them! The latter is a very good way of learning the construction technology and it’s also a good way of networking!
Reporting on the impact of different design solutions and construction processes on cost and programme.
This point relates heavily to design economics and cost planning. Essentially it’s asking you how you have advise the client on the impact of the design solutions. You usually do this within your estimate cost reports. Remember, these are the reports where you identify the various design options and provide commentary as to why each of the options vary in cost and programme.
In my experience, good design teams will provide a lot of information regarding this within ‘constructability reports’ or ‘buildability statements’. These documents usually explain why certain options may take longer or cost more. Your job is to verify this information from a cost management perspective and shed light on the variables to the client in a digestible fashion.
In the absence of support from the design team it really is up to us as the QS’s to explain the technicalities to the client. In general, this lack of support from the design team will occur when you are working ‘straightforward’ projects. The design team probably feel that the work is simple therefore won’t go to the effort of producing ancillary documents to explain the differences between the options.
I feel that construction tech is probably the hardest competency for QSs. It’s not that it’s difficult to learn, it just takes a lot of time to understand why things work the way they do. I remember when i first started working, simple concepts were very difficult for me to understand. I had to let it ‘marinate’ in my head and then it made sense a few days/weeks later. There are things I understand now which made no sense when I started. This was probably more difficult for someone like me who came into the industry from a non-construction background.
That’s it for this post folks, as always if you have any queries or questions please drop me a message!