Clarity in Communications in Design and Construction Projects

Contributor: Swinerton Blogger   |   January 31, 2017
Clarity in Communications in Design and Construction Projects

With the ever-present desire for speed and efficiency in design and construction, clear and concise communications can be a major problem.

The constant thread of taking a project from an idea through design into construction and close-out is communication. A client must communicate clearly with the design team in order for the architects and engineers to design a building or structure that responds to program requirements. Designers must communicate with each other in order to arrive at a cohesive, coordinated design. Designers must communicate to the builders what is needed in order for the project to perform: a structure that is stable, an exterior envelope that sheds water, materials that are installed in the proper location so as to perform as intended. 

Graphic communication via drawings is the standard means of explanation that is presented to the builder. While computer-based graphics are a very powerful tool, the ability to sketch in the field or at the conference table illustrate a problem, or suggest a solution, can be very helpful.

Written and/or verbal communications are also used to explain a physical issue, using words instead of a drawing. The clarity of such communications can vary greatly. For example, “Take that beam and leave it on the deck between the columns we were talking about” versus “Take the 4x10 beam with the angles bolted to it. Leave it on the second floor deck between the columns on line A, at lines 4 and 5." The first sentence might be fine if workers are standing together at the site pointing at what they are talking about; the second can be understood with far less confusion by workers who may not be together at the site.

All of our communications—written, spoken, or graphic— should be clear, precise, and adjusted to the knowledge of the reader or listener, especially to those that are responsible for making informed decisions.