Nzangi Muimi

What is Buildability or Constructability?

Buildability or constructability is the measure of the ease, efficiency and eco-friendliness with which a building can be constructed. It depends on the project team’s experience and planning, design, procurement and field operations knowledge.

The ease of construction (constructability) is the degree to which a building’s design facilitates construction field operations. A constructible design should allow for favourable site logistics which improves access for workers, materials, and equipment. Also, the designed site layout should facilitate the intended construction methods, with the adopted construction methods not causing interference with site logistics and the construction schedule.

Why Buildability/Constructability is Important in a Construction Project

When coming up with a new project, we want the designs that the architects, engineers and designers produce to be practical on-site. That means they should be buildable. The specified materials, construction methods and assembly techniques must be available in the market and local industry. This way, the designs can be easily constructed without the project facing many challenges.

How do we do that, then? It has to start with the design team adopting a buildability approach from the start. This is an approach where the design takes into account the construction process and how it balances the various project and environmental constraints.

By taking into account the overall requirements for the completed facility during the design stage, we develop the design of the building to facilitate ease of its construction.

Therefore, designers should appreciate the construction process when formulating their designs. Members of the design team with construction knowledge and experience must communicate this to the designers during the design development stages.

Buildability/constructability attempts to integrate design and construction into a better building that is easier to construct. Through this, the project’s objectives of cost, time and quality become more capable of being achieved.

The project can be built faster, with lower capital and life cycle costs, and improvements in the completed building performance and maintenance characteristics of the building. These variables are some of the most important measures of success in a project. This explains the importance of the constructability approach in a construction project.

Although traditional procurement methods divorced design from the construction aspects, other project delivery methods which appreciate the role of buildability in the conception of a project have gained more popularity in the industry. These include the design-build approach (which is what we do in our firm), management contracting and construction management. These are more beneficial to the project and the client who is assured the previously discussed benefits of speedier construction times and superior quality.

Steps for Achieving Good Buildability/Constructability

Achieving good buildability is a conscious process that aims to bridge the gap between design and construction in the earliest stages of the project by involving field personnel to comment on the design, and contractors in the selection of materials. People who do the actual construction and installations are better placed to understand the methods required for the installation of materials, components and fixtures, and can offer a very constructive critique of the developed designs and drawings.

Therefore, construction personnel should analyse and review the design to ensure a construction-friendly site that facilitates the movement of staff, materials, and equipment, and allows construction activities to proceed smoothly.

In addition, the following steps are taken to ensure good buildability of the project:

  1. Carrying out thorough investigation and design,
  2. Planning for essential site production requirements,
  3. Planning for a practical sequence of building operations and early enclosure,
  4. Planning for simplicity of assembly and logical trade sequence,
  5. Detailing for maximum repetition and standardisation,
  6. Detailing for achievable tolerances (both structurally and logistically), and
  7. Specifying robust and suitable materials.

Constructability/Buildability Reviews

During the design stage, the proposed project team works together with the contractor to take advantage of the contractor’s construction knowledge. This knowledge is then integrated into the formulated designs to make sure that the project is easier to construct and the objectives of cost, time and quality can be more easily achieved.

The contractor, consultants, and developer hold design review meetings to perform constructability reviews. These design reviews ensure there is compatibility between the design and the available construction methods, techniques, and materials.

Therefore, the contractor and the site personnel are involved in critiquing and commenting on the design, and selection of construction materials, and ensuring that the proposed design ensures a friendly construction site that facilitates the movement of staff, materials, and equipment while allowing construction activities to proceed smoothly without clashes.


We have seen that the traditional design-bid-build procurement method led to the separation of the design (consultants) and construction aspects (contractors) in construction projects.

If the designers who evolve the designs do not have practical construction experiences, they will not be able to develop designs that are more compatible with the practical implications on site. This results in design complexity, cost, and time overruns.

The practical construction knowledge must be incorporated into the design process to ensure compatibility between the design and the available construction methods, techniques, and materials. This approach embeds buildability into the project from the onset.

Buildability, or constructability itself, is the measure of the degree to which a design facilitates the ease of construction on-site, by incorporating the knowledge of the builders into the design process.

If the importance of constructability in the design process is ignored, it causes project disruptions during the project construction phase; with design details not matching the available construction materials, methods, or assembly techniques. Time and money are wasted, with the possibility of these issues spilling over into unnecessary legal disputes.

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