ESSAY WRITING CLUB Technical Papers Alternative Construction Methods

Alternative Construction Methods



  1. Quality control – specifications written by design engineers to site engineers helps to dictate the quality of materials and workmanship required to implement the projects. This helps in quality control of the project.
  2. Legal disputes resolution –a legally binding contract between the principal and oblige helps to ensure that each party understands their project responsibilities and thus avoiding conflict in the course of the project.
  3. Conveying site instructions – specifications written by design engineers to site engineers helps to dictate the quality of materials and workmanship required to implement the projects.
  4. Certifying interim payments –after contractor has completed a target milestone, they write a certificate to request for payments. This being a part of construction of information helps to maintain the project cash flow in a manageable order.
  5. Guide to procurement of materials – specifications written by design engineers to site engineers helps to dictate the quality of materials and workmanship required to implement the projects. This helps in procuring materials and machines from certified dealers or quarries.
  6. Project management –work schedule and work and study programmes which are a part of construction information helps the contractor to monitor the project progress against the preset project baseline. This being a part of construction information’s helps the project managers to easily manage the project.
  7. Help in tendering process –bill of quantities prepared by the client’s representative helps the contactor to bid for contract. This being a part of construction information’s helps the clients to understand the amount of work, time and capital investment required to start a project.


  1. Specifications –this are instructions written to accompany a drawing describing the materials, the methodology and extent of work to be carried out on a certain part of a project
  2. Bill of Quantities –this a document containing the takeoff measurements from a drawing prepared so that contractors can place bids based on that amount of works.
  3. Schedule of Rates –this an annual book prepared by ministry of labour and other ministries describing the amount of wages and cost of materials and hiring equipment’s needed by builders to place their rates while tendering for contracts. This books contain rates, wages and costs of different locations to help contractors and developers estimate project worth.
  4. Certificates –this are approvals of requests written by contractors to engineers to seek extension of time, early payments, inspections etc.
  5. Drawings –this is project puts into an art by drafting the client’s expectation into an architectural document, or engineer’s documents. They help the technical teams get work done.
  6. Work study programmes –this are documents developed by engineer, architect, quantity surveyor by observation of their workforce to determine how their staffs perform i.e. time taken to complete a certain task by each mason. They help them in workforce planning to increase efficiency and reduce project task.
  7. Schedule of works/ Work breakdown structure –this is a document prepared for purposes of project management, diving the project into manageable task then allocating time to each task, it also involves determining the order of precedence of each task in order to determine the project duration and critical paths.


Quality control Legal disputes resolution Conveying site instructions Certifying interim payments Guide to procurement of materials Project management Help in tendering process
Specifications ü ü ü x ü x x
Bill of Quantities x x x ü x x ü
Schedule of Rates x x x x ü ü ü
Certificates x ü x ü x ü x
Drawings ü x x x x ü ü
Work study programmes ü x x x x ü ü
Schedule of works/ Work breakdown structure ü x x x x ü ü



Project description

I chose a residential building, based on the fact that even with rapid growth in global population the need for housing in disintegrated house models increases. This is despite the fact that the recent technology and demand has seen more investors opt to do commercial flats than bungalows. Due to this lack of privacy has developed in most urban centers which has been accompanied by rapid decline in morality and securities.

In this models, I developed: Site plan, Floor plan, Elevations, Sections, Door and window schedules, outline BOQ, schedule of works as follows.

Shown in the drawing page.

I have prepared specification for foundations as that is the most critical part of a building and written them as answers for question P5. In those specs, I prepared reinforced concrete for reasons that is easy to work with and cheaper than steel and requires low maintenance attention than structural timber.


Item Description Unit Quantity Rate Amount
Excavation Foundation footings (1*1m*1m) and strip footing (1m deep and 600 mm wide) m3  64    
Foundation base slab 1m *1m*0.6 thick base slab.

There are 16 bases

m3  9.6    
Strip footing base slab 0.6*0.15 m thick slab in a wall of total length of 80 m m3  7.2    
Masonry foundation wall 0.2 m thick wall, 1m high.

Wall perimeter=80m

m2  80    
Foundation reinforcement T20 bars at 200 mm spacing in each of 16 bases

With a total length of  192 m

tons 0.5    


Serial number COLUMNS
Item Description Unit Quantity Rate Amount
Concrete 16 columns of 300mm*200mm*4500mm m3  4.4    
Reinforcement 4 T20 per column, and T8 rings @250 mm pacing per column tons 0.8    
Serial number BEAMS
Item Description Unit Quantity Rate Amount
Concrete 24 beams of 400mm*200mm*4000mm m3  7.68    
Reinforcement 4 T12 per beam, and T8 rings @250 mm pacing per column tons 0.34    
Item Description Unit Quantity Rate Amount
Machine cut blocks 200 mm thick stone.

Overall Wall height=4m

Overall Wall length=80 m

m2  320    
Serial number BEAMS
Item Description Unit Quantity Rate Amount
Concrete 24 beams of 400mm*200mm*4000mm m3  7.68    
Reinforcement 4 T12 per beam, and T8 rings @250 mm pacing per column tons 0.34    
Serial number ROOF SLAB
Item Description Unit Quantity Rate Amount
Concrete Slab thickness =0.15 m


m3  7.68    
Reinforcement [email protected] mm pacing tons 0.805    
Serial number FORMWORK
Item Description Unit Quantity Rate Amount
Steel formwork Foldable Steel plates of 3mm thickness.

For beams, columns and slabs in all concrete works

m2  268    
Steel props for slab formwork support

spaced at interval of 1.5 *1.5 m

No 114    
Serial number FINISHING
Item Description Unit Quantity Rate Amount
Floor tiles Clay tiles

Finishing area17*17

m2  289    



A Site clearing —- 1
B Excavation A 3
C Foundation steel fixing B 8
D Foundation formwork C 5
E Foundation concreting D 17 including curing
F Strip footing walls E 5
G Plumbing F 3
H Ground floor slab hardcore compaction G 1
I Walling H 30 days
J Columns G 12 including curing
K Beam H 10 including curing
L Side wall plumbing H 10
M Roof slab formwork G 4
N Roof slab steel fixing G 8
O Electrical installation N 3
P Roof slab concreting O 30 including curing
Q Doors fixing P 10
R Window fixing P 10
S Finishing P 10
T Painting P 10
U Exterior landscaping S 10
V Project closure U 1
Q Project handover V 1





QUESTION P5: Relate A Construction Drawing To A Specification

Example: specification of how foundation is to be constructed.

  1. Specification of excavation

Where shown by the site engineer, the contractor shall clear the bush, set out the base and footing position then excavate to approval level by the engineer. All excavated footings shall be trimmed to perfect squares or rectangle then kept as dry as possible before any other works commence.

  1. Specification of foundation concreting

Before any concrete is laid; the site engineer shall confirm that the excavated trenches and basses are perfect squares and rectangles and are up to level to avoid having inclined bases and kept as dry/moist as practical. After this approval the concrete materials (aggregates and sand) shall be tested to ensure that they meet the required standards i.e. aggregate should be of range 14/20 and with LAA (Los Angeles Abrasion) value of 30, ACV (aggregate crushing value) of 60 and are at surface dry moisture condition. After all materials have been certified by the site engineer, the concrete mixing shall commence. A mixing ration of 1:2:3 in order of cement: sand: aggregate shall be used and mixed thoroughly with water until a slump of 30 mm is obtained at standard consistency. After site engineer has approved the consistency the material shall be placed at a maximum height of 1m to avoid segregation and vibrated to compaction.

  1. Specification of foundation strip walls/ stone pitching

Stone pitching shall commence immediately the footing base has cured as will be confirmed by a 7-day compression strength performed as directed by site engineer. The contractor shall provide stones dressed roughly square with least dimension being 200mm and a minimum volume of 0.1 meters cubed. Then stones shall them be laid completely vertical and horizontal as will be checked by the foremen with a cement: sand mortar in ratio of 1:1 between them. The top of the stone pitching should flush with the top level of ground floor slab. Between two consecutive horizontal layers of stone, a hook iron strip should be incorporated. Between two consecutive vertical layers of stones a staggered Flemish bond should be formed to prevent formation of continuous cracking.

  1. Specification of back filling

This activity shall commence only after all foundation concreting and stone pitching has been done and cured completely to desired strength as will be directed and confirmed by the site engineer. The back filling will be done by prior selected and tested materials by the site engineer. The material should have a California bearing capacity (CBR) of 60 or its equivalent in terms soil frictional angle and unit cohesion.  The materials shall be laid in layers of maximum compacted thickness of 150 mm and compacted to 95% MDD (maximum dry density) at (90-105) % OMC (optimum moisture content). This shall be done in repetitive layers until all excavated depth is filled and all works are approved by the site engineer.

  1. Specification of plumbing works

All pipe work for washrooms, sumps and water supply is to been done after compaction of ground floor hardcore and laying of A142 mesh but before concreting is done, the engineer shall only approve white PVC pipes of 4 inches’ thickness for bathroom sump collector and toilet outlets, for underground clean water pipes, 1.25 inches GI pipe shall be used for conveyance. And laid only in accordance to pre-drawn plumbing and utility drawings. All joints shall include waste vent and shall be sealed with a white thread to prevented leakages.


Door and passages dimensions in regard to wheel chair accessibility

Almost all doors and passages have a width less than 1500 mm, this is against the specifications since in specification, the architect have specified that the house be friendly to disabled or wheel chair accessible. According to specifications for a wheel chair accessible house all access should have minimum thickness of 1500mm.

Room distribution

The house has no bedroom on ground floor, while this not an issue in most cases, in this case it is a problem because the in information there is need to cater for a wheel chair. Since the room has no ramp or lift, then a rule of thumb should be such that there is one bedroom in the ground floor to cater for that.

Missing doors/ dead room

In first floor plan the room labeled “Ens” on the top most right hand corner has no door. which means it exist but is not accessible from any point.

Conflicting door opening side

In the second floor plan there exist a “store” shared between two rooms, the store have a very narrow thickness, a corridor width of 614 mm which is problematic by itself as it would have a very low service to users. To top to that the two doors opens in same direction which means only one user can use it at a time to avoid causing accidents as there exist a blind state condition in opening.


Using drawing number 09 shared in class notes.

Specification on foundations on lecturers drawing

He claimed foundation sizes to be of the following nature

For 100mm wall – 450*225mm

For 300mm wall – 750*225 mm

For 215 mm wall –600*225mm

For 395 mm wall – 859*225 mm

This information could have errors since there is a convectional rule that dictates that the strip footing width should be three times the wall thickness

Ie strip footing thickness=3*wall thickness therefore for 300 mm wall thickness the

Footing=3*300=900 instead of 750

Specification on Ground floor construction on lecturers drawing

The specification specifies that the foundation hardcore thickness per layer of cone compaction be 215 mm.

This is information could have errors since all compaction of earth materials whether gravels or sand is limited to 150 mm according to ASTM standards.


Correction to drawings

  1. Having corridors and door passages of a minimum of 1500 mm divided into two wings each of 750 mm.
  2. Having adjacent doors that5 are closely spaced opening in opposite sides to avoid forming accidents zones
  3. Having one bedroom and washroom in ground floor to cater for people on wheelchair on other disability limiting them to use stairs.
  4. As an alternate to correction three, the house can have a ramp or a lift to facilitate easy movement of disabled people independently.

Correction to specifications

  1. Filling hardcore in layers of 150 mm compacted thickness instead of 212 mm
  2. Using foundation wall strip footings of a thickness of three times the wall thickness instead of those proposed to enable easy working.




QUESTION P7: Type of information produced by different participants in a construction project.

Participants Type of information
1.      Architects Architectural drawings

Door, windows, fixtures schedules

2.      Engineers Sets of Structural drawings for given architectural drawings

Site investigation reports

Bar bending schedules

Bill of quantities

Work study schedules for structural workforce planning

Specifications (material, extents and methodology)

3.      Quantity surveyors Take off measurements

Bill of quantities

4.      Project managers Work schedules

Work breakdown structures

Project cash flow plans

5.      Contractors Request letters to engineer for approvals, project managers for payments, and architects for discussing drawings.



The project begins when a client appoints a project manager, the project manages through four passes (intuition, planning, execution and close down). Through these stages, the bodies of information interact as follows.

During this stage, the architects prepares architectural drawings using relevant software’s, mostly REVIT or ARCHICAD, when he/she is through, the drawings are taken to client for confirmation. If client is contented, the drawing is approved by the project managers and is forwarded to the structural engineers. The structural engineers perform load calculations and other technicalities of the drawing, then using EUROCODES or BS prepares a structural drawing containing structural elements sizes and reinforcement details, after wads the project is taken to project managers who then handles it to geotechnical team. The geotechnical team headed by a geotechnical engineer which could also be done by the structural engineer in a different context performs site investigation to determine the suitability of the site to carry the structurally calculated load. After their site investigation, they design a foundation that is suitable for that site and forward their sub structure design proposal to the project manager. If the client is okay with the engineer’s proposals and the government approves, a quantity surveyor is brought on board. The quantity surveyors calculate take off measurements of all structural works and architectural works including excavations, concreting and back filling. After this, using published information about rates of wages, equipment hiring’s and material sourcing, the quantity surveyor places the cost of the project and forwards the work to the project manager. The project managers help the client select a contractor who will execute the work. When all professional works is done, the contractor commences the work execution as per drawings and specifications made by all teams. Time to time the contractor will seek approvals from all team through writing letters of requests.

Therefore, it is safe to say that the teams interact by codependence in process of

  • project initiating – this is during the team assembling stages, project designing and scope of works determination.
  • project planning –this is during project break down stages. All team help determine the work schedules, work communication modes and work evaluation methods
  • project execution –this during the actual onsite construction, all teams are monitoring their work against project baseline.
  • project closedown –after all works is done, the teams collaborate is terminating customer and stakeholder’s contracts, conducting post project review and documentation of the as build drawings.




Drawing and Drafting ü ü
2D and 3D presentation ü ü
Rendering X ü
Inbuilt Take off measurement determination X ü
Automated Cost estimation X ü
Project managements X ü
Visual presentation/ simulation ü ü
Structural analysis X ü
3D and 4D Project monitoring X ü
Project spatial analysis X ü
Project temporal analysis X ü
Online cloud/ group collaboration

Ability to have multiple teams working on same templates

X ü
Files interoperability X ü
Virtual reality X ü
Automatic generation of window/door schedules ü ü
Automatic generation of structural drawings X ü
Automatic generation of bar bending schedules X ü


In the above chat I have compiled all roles carried out by BIM and CAD into a table then, used the following criterion

X- to mean not effectively carried out by either BIM or CAD

  • – to mean effectively and reliably carried out.

Based on that comparisons, it is clear that BIM has way more advantages than CAD and should be adopted in all civil engineering works.

What do you think?

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