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Role of construction professionals such as architects, engineering consultants, builders, quantity surveyors in monitoring a construction project is discussed.

A construction project is a product of different information and designs from different professionals. If these information and designs are to be adhered to, the presence of their producers and designers are required.

Role of Architect

According to Bamisile (2004), the architect should be visiting site periodically for inspections to ensure that in general, the work being carried out on site is in compliance with architectural designs and specifications.

Role of Engineering Consultants

Bamisile (2004) noted that during the construction phase, engineers (geotechnical, structural, electrical and mechanical) should visit the site regularly for inspections to ensure that in general, is in compliance with their engineering drawings, schedules and specification.

A Structural Engineer should be concerned with the monitoring and ensuring that the design (structural) performance criteria are met in the construction methods and materials. Similarly, the mechanical and electrical engineer should monitor the type and ways of installing mechanical and electrical installations so as to ensure that it complies with their designs and specifications.

Role of the Builder

The core function of a builder in any construction project is Building Production Management. An integral part of management is monitoring. A builder should be concerned with monitoring and evaluating the construction project. He should be able to apply the different monitoring techniques to achieve the objectives. A builder needs to be fully aware and conversant with the different construction professionals and their corresponding contract documents so that their implementation can be properly monitored.

Role of the Quantity Surveyor

A Quantity Surveyor is concerned with the quantities and cost associated in a construction project. As a cost expert, the Quantity Surveyor monitors the cost of every aspects of a construction project. He does this so that the total cost of production does not exceed the estimated cost.

Areas of Monitoring of the Construction Project

A construction project is considered successful if it meets defined needs to the required standard (quality) within the time and cost budget. These parameters – quality, cost and time are critical and should therefore be monitored as they define the success level of any construction project.

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1. Construction Quality

For monitoring of quality to be effective, it must be measured against a standard. The Project Quality Management Plan serves as a standard against which the quality of a construction project can be measured.

Quality in a construction project depends on a range of variables and involves much more than the simple parameters such as the visible standard of finishes, structural soundness, or making of components fit within close tolerances.

The monitoring of quality should embrace all the aspects by which a construction project is judged including spatial arrangement, circulation, efficiency, aesthetics, flexibility as well as its functional ability as a climate modifier and as a suitable structure.

Besides the Project Quality Management Plan, contract and job specifications also provide a criterion by which to assess and assure the quality of a construction project.

2. Construction Cost

For control and monitoring purposes, the detailed cost estimate should be converted to a project budget, and the project budget is used subsequently as a guide for management. The detailed cost estimate should provide a baseline for the assessment of financial performance during a construction project.

Expenses during the course of the project should be recorded in specific job cost accounts and this should be compared with the original detailed cost estimates. When the cost are within the detailed cost estimate, the cost and finance of a construction project is thought to be monitored and under control.

3. Construction Time

Construction typically involves a deadline for work completion, so construction managers must force attention to time. More generally, a delay in construction represents additional costs due to late facility occupancy and other factors. The duration of activities must therefore be monitored and compared to expected durations so that the project is completed within the time required.

Monitoring Techniques in Construction Projects

The method of ensuring that an accurate check is kept upon progress in a construction project is very important, depending as it does upon frequent comparisons between work done and programme. Such comparisons can be made in a simple visual manner, so as to throw into prominence any divergence between the two by plotting the progress on the construction programme (Bamisile, 2004).

According to Olorunoje et al (2004), monitoring tools will involve recording techniques such as the use of network diagrams like:

  1. Gantt chart
  2. Arrow diagram or critical path analysis
  3. Progress curves

Before any of the above monitoring techniques can be implemented to monitor a project effectively, a thorough knowledge of the entire work associated with the construction project must be known. This leads us to the concept of Work Breakdown Structure.

1. Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

According to Payne et al (1996), a Work Breakdown Structure provides a rational subdivision of the work in hierarchical form down to the lowest level of discrete work packages from which estimates of resources requirements, duration, linkages and costs can be determined.

From the Work Breakdown Structure, a list of activities and precursor activities can be produced for the purposes of network analysis, from which programmes and chart flow.

2. The Gantt Chart

This is a simple and effective way of illustrating progress or status of an entire project or its individual status. A Gantt chart, also known as a bar chart, graphically describes a project consisting of a well defined collection of tasks or activities, the completion of which marks its end. An activity is a task or closely related group of tasks whose performance contributes to completion of the overall project.

The Gantt chart is generally organized so that all activities are listed in a column at the left side of the diagram. A horizontal time scale extends to the right of the list, with a line corresponding to each activity on the list. A bar representing the duration of each activity is drawn between its corresponding scheduled start and finish times along its horizontal line (Barrie et al, 2006).

Gantt charts can be modified in order to show planned progress as well as to report progress. According to Barrie et al (2006), in order to report progress, a parallel bar is sometimes placed below the plan bar, and it is initially left open. Then, as the job progresses, it is shaded in direct proportion to the physical work completed on the activity.

The Gantt chart is an effective way to monitor the duration and cost associated with a construction project. A sample of the Gantt chart is contained in the appendix.

3. The Critical Path Method (CPM)

The Critical Path Method is the systematic representation of a project by means of a diagram called network depicting the sequence and interplay of various components/units that go to form the project.

According to Arora et al (2005), the Critical Path Method is activity based. This does not take into account of the uncertainties involved in the estimation of time for the execution of an activity. The times are related to costs.

The activities are represented by arrows. These arrows are connected in order of sequence of operations. The nodes which represent events are attached to the beginning and end of each arrow.

The Critical Path Method provides a powerful means of documenting and communicating project plans, schedules and performance to managers. It also identifies the most critical elements in the project schedule and thus, allows management to set priorities and focus attention on them (Barrie et al, 2006).

4. Progress Curves

Progress curves, also called S curves, graphically plot some measure of cumulative progress on the vertical axis against time on the horizontal axis. Progress can be measured in terms of money expended, quantity surveys of work in place, man-hours expended, or any other measure which makes sense (Barrie et al, 2006); and this can be expressed either in terms of actual units (naira, cubic meters, etc) or as a percentage of the estimated total quantity to be measured.

Progress curves can express some aspects of project plans. Once the project is underway, actual progress can be plotted and compared with that which was plotted. It is then possible to make projections based on the slope of the actual progress curve, (Barrie et al, 2006).

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