Introduction to Construction

Construction industry is one of the largest business sectors in the entire world. It has been estimated that about 10% of the percentage of the gross national product was given for construction processes in a few years. In the year of 2001, about $214 billion and $167 billion construction contracts was estimated for residential and non-building projects, respectively. 

Civil Engineering projects goes through sequential steps such as the first conception and design. Construction is the real phase in which the design becomes physical in the real world. This construction process is performed by “the constructor”. The owner is the final consumer of the product. He might be a person, an entity, or the general public. The constructor has to comply with the contract made with the owner or client and also, has an ethical obligation to the general public that the work will be with a good quality and the final project will serve its function economically and safely.

The construction industry is typically divided into different areas with each one needs various skills, resources, and experience. These areas are: 

  • Residential (single- and multifamily housing),
  • Building (all buildings other than housing),
  • Heavy/highway (dams, bridges, ports, sewage-treatment plants, highways),
  • Utility (sanitary and storm drainage, water lines, electrical and telephone lines, pumping stations),
  • Industrial (refineries, mills, power plants, chemical plants, heavy manufacturing facilities).

⇒ As a matter of fact, most engineers specialize in only one or two of these areas during their careers.

Construction projects requires cooperation of all the parties involved to be done properly as they are complex and much time-consuming. There are plans and specifications for each project that might differ from a project to another but at the end, each project must be completed according to its own specifications plus any other imposed conditions in the contract.

An important characteristic of construction projects is that they are unique. Even if two projects are similar, each one is considered as a unique undertaking because there will be always some different elements for each one such as the type of soil, the weather, the people working on the project, and so on. 

Participants in the Construction Process

Several participants are involved in the construction process, each assigned important role to result in a successful project:

  1. The owner (private or public) is the party that initiates the demand for the project and ultimately pays for its completion. The primary role of the owner is to effectively communicate the scope of work desired to the other parties.
  2. The designer is responsible for developing adequate working drawings and specifications, in accordance with current design practices and codes, to communicate the product desired by the owner upon completion of the project.
  3. The prime contractor is responsible for managing the resources needed to carry out the construction process in a manner that ensures the project will be conducted safely, within budget, and on schedule, and that it meets or exceeds the quality requirements of the plans and specifications.
  4. Subcontractors are specialty contractors who contract with the prime contractor to conduct a specific portion of the project within the overall project schedule.
  5. Suppliers are the vendors who contract to supply required materials for the project within the project specifications and schedule.

The success of any project depends on the coordination of the efforts of all parties involved.

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