When developing a brief to present to the client it is essential that a thorough assessment of the performance required is carried out in conjunction with successful building techniques. The particular process which incorporates this is called Benchmarking.

An example of benchmarking specific to the construction industry is considering which particular contractors perform the required element of work the best, why they are better at this element of work, and how can another contractor improve and compete with the market leader.

Having looked at a handout received (see appendix 1) I went on to research the web address (http://www.constructingexcellence.org.uk//resources/az/view.jsp?id=311) and types of benchmarking are:-

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* Internal – a comparison of internal operations within the same organisation

* Competitive – a comparison against a specific competitor for the product, service or function of interest.

* Generic – a comparison of business functions or processes that are the same, irrespective of industry or country.

By using benchmarking it will allow you to ensure that the areas that are being focussed on improving are essential in order to be successful. Furthermore it will ensure that goals set are achievable by considering what has been carried out previously on other projects. Benchmarking will also help to get an indication of how well a company is performing in relation with other companies in a similar field of work. Conversely benchmarking can have its disadvantages, for example these are benchmarking information that is unnecessary, lack of monitoring the results and by not being precise enough when taking a measurement of the result.

Key Performance Indicators

Having looked at a handout received (see appendix 2) I went on to research the web address http://www.constructingexcellence.org.uk//resources/az/view.jsp?id=395 and a key performance indicator is:-

* The measure of performance of an activity that is crucial to the success of an organisation.

When measuring key performance indicators, a chart can be created measuring the benchmark score on one axis against the performance rating on the other axis. The performance rating is measured on a scale of 1-10 and the benchmark score out of 100%.

Wikipedia states that key performance indicators differ depending on the nature of the organisation and the organisation’s strategy.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Key_performance_indicators)

Therefore this can help a company to measure the progress they are making towards set goals and targets in relation to other companies in the same field.

“Constructing Excellence” Agenda

When looking at the construction excellence website, they say that excellence in construction is:

* Creating individual, community and national prosperity (wealth) through the provision of products and services;

* Creating opportunities for living, learning, recreation and development that will advance the interests of the community at large

* Exceeding all community expectations for products and services offered and creating added value;

* Earning community respect for aesthetic, safety and environmental standards

* Having integrated teams delivering world class constructed products, buildings, facilities and infrastructure incorporating quality components, systems and products

* Respecting its people and the wider community

* Exporting a range of products and services to other industries

(http://www.constructingexcellence.org.uk/aboutus/excellence.jsp)

Their aim in the construction industry is to help improve the performance of the builds by ensuring the competence and the work rate of the workers employed is up to a high standard. Also they aim to improve the image of the industry as a whole by ensuring measures that need to be taken are done so in order to enhance the reputation of the industry. Finally by taking appropriate action against any individual, company or association within the industry, that does not comply with any regulation set within the industry.

Planning and Design Stages

When looking at these phases there are three initial factors to consider. These are whether the build is practical, whether the design is artistic and how the procedures of the build will work.

When looking at the practicality of the build, it is considering whether the build will function as it is supposed to, whether it will be tangible and whether the technology to be used suits the purpose of the build. When considering the artistic side of the build it is essential that the design of the build suits its purpose, it is intangible and the build is creative, whether it will be contemporary or otherwise. Finally when considering whether the procedure of the build will work it is essential that the build is easily manageable, hence being able to keep track of procurement and any work carried out by operatives. Furthermore being able to ensure all materials are ordered and delivered on time.

Obviously to achieve all of the above to the maximum efficiency is very difficult. Usually a practical build will rarely be creative and artistic in design. However the optimum point will be where all three of these concepts overlap (see figure 1). The point where these all overlap is called the synergy. This means by achieving all of these to the best possible standard the building will be far more suitable and appealing.

Detail design factors are another major concept to consider at the planning and design phases. These factors include:

* Environmental issues

* Human factors

* Enclosure and functional requirements

* Build ability

* Quality

* Time and finance

By considering these factors in conjunction with the three initial factors outlined will help to allow the build to be successful and suitable for purpose.

Factors Effecting How the Proposed Building is Designed

Brownfield Site

Due to the proposed building having a previous site use of a petrol station the site will be a brownfield site. Therefore the land may be contaminated by small amounts of hazardous waste or pollution. This waste or pollution is still effectively live and could be reused once cleaned up. This means should this land wish to be built on the contaminated land must be thoroughly cleaned up prior to any commencement. This can be costly hence needs to be considered. Also it may be necessary to consider the foundations being used if there are weak points underground where services to the petrol station have been used previously. It may be a good idea to use pile foundations instead of a trench fill.

Layout for Sunlight

Furthermore due to the house having a steep facing slope at the south side and the north side being the main access point to the house, it would make sense the front of the house being at the north side. This will mean that sunlight will be in the garden at the back and the house will only cast a shadow over the road side. Also as the house is to be built in a housing estate the orientation will need to be considered so that the areas of the house that require the most sunlight will not have shadows cast over them from neighboring properties. Furthermore the shape of the house is essential to enable the maximum amount of the house as possible to be exposed to as much sunlight as possible. Problem layouts include “L” shaped and “square ring” builds.

Steep Slope

When considering the steep slope at the back of the house, which is south facing, therefore would be most effectively used as a garden to maximise sunlight, it could be stepped down using patios to help negate the steep slope. As this is area is likely to be used as a garden a patio will work well for the area. This is because it will be a nice area to sit at due to the sun being here most of the time.

Obstructions to Daylight

Due to the site being surrounded by large trees it is essential that the amount of daylight being allowed into the house is considered. This means that due to the trees obstructing daylight to the house, the windows must be placed in the build at the right height and size to allow a clear sky-line. This means that by sitting down and holding an obstruction in front of you 0.85m high (see right) and looking up through the window also in front of you, you should be able to see above the obstruction. If you can this means that the daylight into the house is sufficient.

Picture from: (http://www.learn.londonmet.ac.uk/packages/clear/visual/daylight/analysis/hand/images/no-sky_line/no-sky_line.gif)

Material Selection

When considering what materials to use it is essential that they blend in with buildings around them. This is vitally important in the case of this build due to being in the middle of a housing estate, where all the other housing will be built from similar materials to one another. However due to the client wanting the home to be sustainable and environmentally friendly and the fact the house is to be built in a regeneration area, when selecting materials sustainability considerations must be taken into account.

Sourcing materials from local suppliers will help to minimise the carbon footprint of the building. This means that because the materials have not been transported as far that less pollution has been created in the transportation period. Furthermore, when selecting the particular material to use it is necessary to use materials with low embodied energy. This means that the energy which was needed to create the product is as low as possible. The higher the energy used here the more of an environmental impact the product has.

Another choice of material to use is recycled materials. These tend to be used more commonly internally. For example insulation called warmcell (see web address: http://www.lowimpact.org/acatalog/warmcel_recycled_newspaper_insulation.html) which is made from recycled newspaper. This insulation achieves the required U Value to meet building regulations. This again will save on carbon emissions as the amount of energy used to create the product is drastically reduced as the product does not need manufacturing from scratch. Also it is a good idea to consider that the materials being used can be re-used at the end of their current life cycle, which will be in the clients build. This means that the product will not need to be dumped in landfill or incinerated again cutting down on carbon emissions.

Construction Methods

Maintenance

When considering the constructing of the build it is essential to consider how the build will be maintained. To help prevent harm to the environment is vital that when the product needs maintenance worked carried out that the substance used will not harm the surroundings. Furthermore it is a good idea to try to limit the amount of polythene protection required as this again can damage the environment.

Power Generation

Also when considering the use of power there are many ways in which power can be generated without using fossil fuels. For example the house could have a wind turbine installed to generate small amounts of power using this. This obviously uses wind energy to spin the spindles in order for energy to be generated. Furthermore by using solar or photovoltaic panels, hence using the sunlight to generate energy is another way to use less energy from non-renewable energy sources.

Water Use

When considering water use the concept of saving water is a key idea. A good way to save the amount of water consumed is by using spray taps in lieu of taps with running water. This is because more air is dispersed with the water so less is wasted down plug. Furthermore the taps could be used with sensors allowing the water to stop running when the users hands are removed from the vicinity. When looking at the water used in a toilet it is possible to recycle rain water and use this to flush the toilet with. This will prevent the use of fresh water from the mains being used. To allow this to happen a water tank will need to be installed underground near the house, where filters are used and the water pumped to the toilet.

Health ; Safety at Design Stage

When considering health and safety at the design stage the main regulations to consider are the CDM regulations. The responsibilities under the CDM regulations are to ensure that all heath and safety aspects of the designs are considered before any works commence. It is essential that the designer tries to design out and eliminate any risks that can be. For example if a roof needs to be constructed rather than working at height can the roof be constructed on the ground and then craned up and fixed, to reduce the work done at height.

Essentially they must ensure that when designing a project they try to eliminate any potential hazards through the way in which they design it. Following this they must then identify any risks that they feel they are unable to design out in a pre-tender health and safety plan. The designer has the responsibility to work closely with the client by making them aware of their duties. The designers also need to liaise and co-operate with the CDM Co-ordinator and the other designers.

Also it is vital for the designer to try and consider the health and safety aspects at all stages of construction. This means during construction, when the structure needs any maintenance work and then when it comes to it, demolition. This will help to reduce risks when the building is completed and any work needs to be done following the completion.

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