PragDave and Andy have a good article called “OO in One Sentence”, in which they reference “Rethinking Construction”, a “report of the Construction Task Force to the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, on the scope for improving the quality and efficiency of UK construction.”
It came up on the PragProg mailing list recently again, and I dove in for some interesting quotes from the article:
The British Property Federation's 1997 survey of major UK clients reveals that:
* more than a third of major clients are dissatisfied with contractors’ performance in keeping to the quoted price and to time, resolving defects, and delivering a final product of the required quality; * more than a third of major clients are dissatisfied with consultants’ performance in co-ordinating teams, in design and innovation, in providing a speedy and reliable service and in providing value for money.
Our assessment is also underpinned by what is known about the amount of waste in construction. Recent studies in the USA, Scandinavia and this country suggest that up to 30% of construction is rework, labour is used at only 40-60% of potential efficiency, accidents can account for 3-6% of total project costs, and at least 10% of materials are wasted. These are probably conservative estimates when compared to the amount of waste identified in manufacturing by best practice firms such as Toyota. Furthermore, an OECD study suggests that UK input costs are generally a third of those of other developed countries but output costs are similar or higher. The message is clear- there is plenty of scope for improving efficiency and quality simply by taking waste out of construction.
We have repeatedly heard the claim that construction is different from manufacturing because every product is unique. We do not agree. Not only are many buildings, such as houses, essentially repeat products which can be continually improved but, more importantly, the process of construction is itself repeated in its essentials from project to project. Indeed, research suggests that up to 80% of inputs into buildings are repeated. Much repair and maintenance work also uses a repeat process. The parallel is not with building cars on the production line; it is with designing and planning the production of a new car model.