Management’s Role in Debugging Plans

            Housing development company owners and managers can lead the way in ensuring the accuracy level of the design plans.  Probably in no other area is upper management in a better position to help improve quality and efficiency in the construction…than to secure good building plans.

Two common misconceptions exist in the building industry, however, that tend to obscure and excuse design errors.  These must be understood before any progress can be made.

The first misconception is the idea that it is the expected duty of field people to take incomplete, inaccurate, and unclear plans and work out all the bugs during construction.

It is widely believed that it is easier and cheaper for the tradespeople to “coordinate”…to work out the design kinks during construction…than it is for the architect and engineers to spend the time to get the design totally correct while still on paper.  In this mindset it is taken for granted that architects and engineers can advance their designs graphically (and economically) only so far on two-dimensional paper…and then the people in the field must resolve the remaining omissions and errors in three-dimension as the construction progresses.

Many people both inside and outside of the industry believe that part of the satisfaction of working in the field comes from solving design and construction mistakes.

The stereotypical advertisement in the newspaper that shows a sketch of several people with their shirt sleeves rolled-up, blueprints under the arm, looking through a builder’s level or pointing and giving directions…implies that solving problems in-the-moment in the reactive mode in the field is both satisfying and expected…misconception number two.

If we are to take seriously the goal of approaching the machine-like efficiency of the fixed assembly-line in mass-production manufacturing…with a minimum of bugs…then it must be accepting that there is nothing thrilling or romantic about fielding incoming nuts-and-bolts problems in-the-moment…that surface without warning from the design plans.

Author: Barton Jahn

I worked in building construction as a field superintendent and project manager. I have four books published by McGraw-Hill on housing construction (1995-98) under Bart Jahn, and have eight Christian books self-published through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). I have a bachelor of science degree in construction management from California State University Long Beach. I grew up in Southern California, was an avid surfer, and am fortunate enough to have always lived within one mile of the ocean. I discovered writing at the age of 30, and it is now one of my favorite activities. I am currently working on more books on building construction.

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