The Construction Industry

constructionConstruction is the process of constructing a building or infrastructure.

Construction differs from manufacturing in that manufacturing typically involves mass production of similar items without a designated purchaser, while construction typically takes place on location for a known client. Construction as an industry comprises six to nine percent of the gross domestic product of developed countries. Construction starts with planning, design, and financing; it continues until the project is built and ready for use.

Large-scale construction requires collaboration across multiple disciplines. A project manager normally manages the budget on the job, and a construction manager, design engineer, construction engineer or architect supervises it. Those involved with the design and execution must consider zoning requirements, environmental impact of the job, scheduling, budgeting, construction-site safety, availability and transportation of building materials, logistics, inconvenience to the public caused by construction delays and bidding. Large construction projects are sometimes referred to as megaprojects.

There are three sectors of construction:

*   Buildings
*   Infrastructure, and
*   Industrial.

Building construction is usually further divided into residential and non-residential ( commercial / institutional ). Infrastructure is often called heavy civil or heavy engineering that includes large public works, dams, bridges, highways, railways, water or wastewater and utility distribution. Industrial construction includes refineries, process chemical, power generation, mills and manufacturing plants. There are also other ways to break the industry into sectors or markets.

Building construction is the process of adding structure to real property or construction of buildings. The majority of building construction jobs are small renovations, such as addition of a room, or renovation of a bathroom. Often, the owner of the property acts as laborer, paymaster, and design team for the entire project. Although building construction projects consist of common elements such as design, financial, estimating and legal considerations, projects of varying sizes may reach undesirable end results, such as structural collapse, cost overruns, and / or litigation. For this reason, those with experience in the field make detailed plans and maintain careful oversight during the project to ensure a positive outcome.

Commercial building construction is procured privately or publicly utilizing various delivery methodologies, including cost estimating, hard bid, negotiated price, traditional, management contracting, construction management-at-risk, design and build and design-build bridging.

Residential construction practices, technologies, and resources must conform to local building authority regulations and codes of practice. Materials readily available in the area generally dictate the construction materials used ( e.g. brick versus stone, versus timber ). Cost of construction on a per square meter ( or per square foot ) basis for houses can vary dramatically based on site conditions, local regulations, economies of scale ( custom designed homes are often more expensive to build ) and the availability of skilled tradesmen. Residential construction as well as other types of construction can generate waste such that planning is required.


The most popular method of residential construction in North America is wood-framed. Typical construction steps for a single-family or small multi-family house are:

*   Obtain an engineered soil test of lot where construction is planned. From an engineer or company specializing in soil testing.
*   Develop floor plans and obtain a materials list for estimations ( more recently performed with estimating software )
*   Obtain structural engineered plans for foundation and structure. To be completed by either a licensed engineer or architect. To include both a foundation and framing plan.
*   Obtain lot survey
*   Obtain government building approval if necessary
*   If required obtain approval from HOA ( homeowners association ) or ARC ( architectural review committee )
*   Clear the building site ( demolition of existing home if necessary )
*   Survey to stake out for the foundation
*   Excavate the foundation and dig footers ( scope of work is dependent of foundation designed by engineer )
*   Install plumbing grounds
*   Pour a foundation and footers with concrete
*   Build the main load-bearing structure out of thick pieces of wood and possibly metal I-beams for large spans with few supports.
*   Add floor and ceiling joists and install subfloor panels
*   Cover outer walls and roof in OSB or plywood and a water-resistive barrier.
*   Install roof shingles or other covering for flat roof
*   Cover the walls with siding, typically vinyl, wood, or brick veneer but possibly stone or other materials
*   Install windows
*   Frame interior walls with wooden 2×4s
*   Add internal plumbing, HVAC, electrical, and natural gas utilities
*   Building inspector visits if necessary to approve utilities and framing
*   Install insulation and interior drywall panels ( cement board for wet areas ) and to complete walls and ceilings
*   Install bathroom fixtures
*   Spackle, prime, and paint interior walls and ceilings
*   Additional tiling on top of cement board for wet areas, such as the bathroom and kitchen backsplash
*   Installation of final floor covering, such as floor tile, carpet, or wood flooring
*   Installation of major appliances

Unless the original owners are building the house, at this point it is typically sold or rented.


In the industrialized world, this usually involves the translation of designs into reality. A formal design team may be assembled to plan the physical proceedings, and to integrate those proceedings with the other parts. The design usually consists of drawings and specifications, usually prepared by a design team including architect, civil engineers, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, structural engineers, fire protection engineers, planning consultants, architectural consultants, and archaeological consultants. The design team is most commonly employed by ( i.e. in contract with ) the property owner. Under this system, once the design is completed by the design team, a number of construction companies or construction management companies may then be asked to make a bid for the work, either based directly on the design, or on the basis of drawings and a bill of quantities provided by a quantity surveyor. Following evaluation of bids, the owner typically awards a contract to the most cost efficient bidder.


Construction is one of the most dangerous occupations in the world, incurring more occupational fatalities than any other sector in both the United States and in the European Union. The fatal occupational injury rate among construction workers in the United States was nearly three times that for all workers, with falls being one of the most common causes of fatal and non-fatal injuries among construction workers. Proper safety equipment such as harnesses, hard hats and guardrails and procedures such as securing ladders and inspecting scaffolding can curtail the risk of occupational injuries in the construction industry. Other major causes of fatalities in the construction industry include electrocution, transportation accidents, and trench cave-ins.

Financial Aspects

Construction projects can suffer from preventable financial problems. Underbids happen when builders ask for too little money to complete the project. Cash flow problems exist when the present amount of funding cannot cover the current costs for labour and materials, and because they are a matter of having sufficient funds at a specific time, can arise even when the overall total is enough. Fraud is a problem in many fields, but is notoriously prevalent in the construction field. Financial planning for the project is intended to ensure that a solid plan with adequate safeguards and contingency plans are in place before the project is started and is required to ensure that the plan is properly executed over the life of the project.

Mortgage bankers, accountants, and cost engineers are likely participants in creating an overall plan for the financial management of the building construction project. The presence of the mortgage banker is highly likely, even in relatively small projects since the owner’s equity in the property is the most obvious source of funding for a building project. Accountants act to study the expected monetary flow over the life of the project and to monitor the payouts throughout the process. Cost engineers and estimators apply expertise to relate the work and materials involved to a proper valuation. Cost overruns with government projects have occurred when the contractor identified change orders or project changes that increased costs, which are not subject to competition from other firms as they have already been eliminated from consideration after the initial bid.

Large projects can involve highly complex financial plans and often start with a conceptual estimate performed by a building estimator. As portions of a project are completed, they may be sold, supplanting one lender or owner for another, while the logistical requirements of having the right trades and materials available for each stage of the building construction project carries forward. In many English-speaking countries, but not the United States, projects typically use quantity surveyors.



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