Civil Engineering

Class notes

Construction and Civil Engineering (II)

Construction and Civil Engineering (II)

Construction projects are complex and time-consuming undertakings that require the interaction and cooperation of many different persons to accomplish. All projects must be completed in accordance with specific project plans and specifications, along with other contract restrictions that may be imposed on the production operations. Essentially, all civil engineering construction projects are unique. Regardless of the similarity to other projects, there are always distinguishing elements of each project that make it unique, such as the type of soil, the exposure to weather, the human resources assigned to the project, the social and political climate, and so on. In manufacturing, raw resources are brought to a factory with a fairly controlled environment; in construction, the “factory” is set up on site, and production is accomplished in an uncertain environment.

It is this diversity among projects that makes the preparation for a civil engineering project interesting and challenging. Although it is often difficult to control the environment of the project, it is the duty of the contractor to predict the possible situations that may be encountered and to develop contingency strategies accordingly. The dilemma of this situation is that the contractor who allows for contingencies in project cost estimates will have a difficult time competing against other less competent or less cautious contractors. The failure rate in the construction industry is the highest in the U.S.; one of the leading causes for failure is the inability to manage in such a highly competitive market and to realize a fair return on investment.


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