Enhancing the prime contractor's pre-construction planning

Kassim Gidado

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Technological advancements and continuous fragmentation of the construction industry have resulted in a spiral increase in complexity of building projects. The changes the construction industry has experienced in recent years have influenced production rates, techniques and procedures. Also types of materials, plant and other resources used have being changing. The effect of these continuous changes is exacerbated by the continuous demand for speed, zero defects, higher safety, welfare and environmental standards. Unfortunately, this spiral increase in complexity is not being matched with an equal increase in planning effort, especially at the pre-construction stage. Contractors have failed to adjust their planning to a more detailed level such as the "role" level. [note: Role is a function performed by a person using other resources e.g. lay a brick. Technology is a collection of the same or various roles e.g. bricklaying. ] The industry still plan projects at the activity level. [note: Activity is a combination of various technologies e.g. building a wall. ] The failure to plan projects at role level is widening the gap between contractors, subcontractors and the operatives. This is obvious by the lack of use of scientific management tools (such as work-study) on today's construction sites. All these problems make pre-construction planning to be an increasingly important ingredient for successful delivery of projects. Good pre-construction planning can only have a fruitful effect if the production process is well understood and is carefully planned at the right level, at the right time, and using the right procedure, expertise and experience. This paper therefore, proposes a simple systemic approach or model that can be used in practice to improve and standardise the process of the prime contractor's planning of construction projects at the pre-construction stage. The uniqueness of the proposed approach is stems from planning at the role level and focusing on the effect of project complexity on project time and cost. The work described in the paper is based upon structured interviews with selected practitioners and case studies on current practice in the South East of England. The work concluded that the implementation of the proposed system of pre-construction planning will contribute to capturing knowledge and experience and to producing consistency and reliability in practice, and thus produce innovation and value in project systems implementation with more reliable predictions of construction project time and cost.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-106
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Construction Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2004


  • Construction planning
  • project complexity


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