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2.1. Introduction
Buildability (constructability) is a huge area of study in the construction industry. The
purpose of this literature review is to study areas that have relevance to developing the
decision support system for buildable designs. The review of the literature first places
an emphasis on buildability principles and conceptual guidelines for buildability
implementation since these principles and guidelines are important ways of
transferring construction knowledge to designers. Then, the review of the literature
concentrates on knowledge management in buildability with respect to how
buildability related knowledge and information was classified, acquired, represented
and utilized during the life cycle of a project. Finally, the review of the literature
focuses on how to apply the available buildability knowledge and information for
quantitative and formal buildability review and evaluation.

Section 2.2 elucidates the definitions of buildability. Section 2.3 briefly describes the
evolution of buildability concepts. Section 2.4 reviews principles (concepts) and
organizational approaches to implement buildability. Section 2.5 introduces knowledge
management in buildability. Section 2.6 presents the approaches to quantifying
buildability. At the end of this chapter, a summary is given.

2.2. Definitions of buildability
The two definitions of buildability, which are most widely accepted in research and
practice, were developed by the Construction Industry Research and Information
Association (CIRIA) in the UK and the Constructability Task Force of the
Construction Industry Institute (CII) in the USA, respectively. The CIRIA defined
buildability as follows:
Buildability is the extent to which the design of a building facilitates ease of
construction, subject to the overall requirements for the completed building (CIRIA,

The Constructability Task Force defined constructability as follows:
Constructability is the optimum use of construction knowledge and experience in
planning, design, procurement, and field operations to achieve overall project
objectives (CII, 1986:2).

Other researchers also derived their definitions based on their commitment to
conceptual assumptions and ways to studying buildability. A selected sample of these
definitions is given as follows.

Illingworth (1984) defined buildability as design and detailing which recognize the
assembly process in achieving the desired result safely and at least cost to the client.
Moore (1996:31) modified Illingworths (1984) definition as a design philosophy,
which recognizes and addresses the problems of the assembly process in achieving the
construction of the design product, both safely and without resort to standardization or
project level simplification.

Ferguson (1989:1) defined buildability as the ability to construct a building
efficiently, economically and to agreed quality levels from its constituent materials,
components and sub-assemblies. Similarly, Williams (1982) defined buildability as
the most economic and efficient way of putting a building together.

The Construction Industry Institute in Australia (CIIA) (Griffith and Sidwell, 1997:29)
defined constructability as a system for achieving optimum integration of
construction knowledge in the building process and balancing the various project and
environmental constraints to achieve maximization of project goals and building
performance. More specifically, Lueprasert (1996:5) defined constructability as an
important feature of a structural design and the construction project site conditions,
which determines the level of complexity of executing the associated structural
assembly tasks.

Some researchers believed that constructability differs markedly from buildability in
terms of its much wider boundaries (e.g., Griffith and Sidwell, 1997). The difference is
seen mainly in that buildability is a design-oriented concept but constructability is
concerned with the whole project process. Others believed that there is no difference
between the two concepts, except that buildability is usually used in the UK but
constructability is often used in the USA. Generally, although there is a different
nuance in their connotation, the two concepts are used interchangeably in most
situations. Thus, this research does not make any difference between the two concepts.
Further, buildability has been adopted in this research since it is an official term used
in Singapore.

For the purpose of this research, the CIRIAs definition is used as the working
definition since it focuses more specifically on design and consequently is more
consistent with the aim of this research.

2.3. Evolution of concepts of buildability
2.3.1. Development of concept
The awareness of buildability can be traced back to a UK governmental report in the
early 1960s (Emmerson, 1962). This report implied that vertical fragmentation of the
project process has led to many problems in the construction industry and
recommended the improvement of coordination and communication among the
architects, consultants and contractors. A subsequent report (Banwell, 1964) further
suggested that design and construction must be considered together and that the
contractor is too far removed from the design stage in the traditional contracting
situation, at which his/her specialized knowledge and techniques could be put to
invaluable use. The report also highlighted that integration of design and construction
leads to clearly defined client requirements, promotion of cooperation between
designers and contractors, and improved interdisciplinary relationships.

Following the Banwell (1964) Report, several further studies (Economic Development
Council, 1967; National Economic Development Office, 1975, 1983) suggested that
alternative forms of contractual arrangements, such as design and build, construction
management, and design and management, should be sought to implement the
recommendations made in the Banwell (1964) report. These reports also further
recommended that design has to facilitate progress on site, take account of buildability
and obtain contributions from specialist consultants, the contractors, subcontractors
and suppliers.

Based on the above-mentioned reports, the members of CIRIA (1983), who were
building contractors, initiated a study to investigate what they regarded as the main
problems of building practices. The research interests concentrated on buildability,
which implied that building designs did not enable the industrys clients to obtain their
best value for money in terms of efficiency with which the building was carried out.
The CIRIA (1983) report defined buildability (see Section 2.2) and gave two
implications of the definition, which include that, firstly, buildability is a dynamic
concept, which exists on a scale from very good to very bad, and secondly, every
building has overall requirements that may necessitate the acceptance of less than very
good buildability.

Compared with the development of buildability in the UK, the concept of
constructability emerged in the late 1970s as a result of research into promoting
quality efficiency, productivity and cost effectiveness in the construction industry of
the USA (Construction Management Committee, ASCE Construction Division, 1991).
A relevant report (Business Roundtable, 1982) concluded that the benefits to be gained
from good constructability throughout the building process are approximately ten to
twenty times the costs to achieving them. The conclusion stimulated the establishment
of the Construction Industry Institute (CII) based at the University of Texas at Austin
in 1983 in the USA (Griffith and Sidwell, 1997). The CII constructability concept
emphasized the optimum use of construction knowledge and experience in planning,
design, procurement, and field operations to achieve overall project objectives, and the
constructability program was also extensively implemented in practice in the USA (see
Section 2.4).

2.3.2. Design for Buildability
In order to change and enhance the fragmented design and construction process, new
production philosophies were recently applied to improve and innovate the project
delivery process (e.g., Koskela, 1992; Low and Chan, 1997; Egan, 1998). Compared
with the concept of design for manufacture (DFM) or design for manufacture and
assembly (DFMA) in the manufacturing industry, design for buildability, which is also
termed as design for construction (DFC) or design for constructability method
(DFCM), is adopted as an element of new production philosophies in the construction
industry (e.g., De la Garza, et al., 1994; Skibniewski and Arciszewski, 1997; Egan,
1998; Luiten and Fischer, 1998; Fox, Marsh and Cockerham, 2001).

For instance, Skibniewski and Arciszewski (1997) proposed a two-stage method of
design for constructability and suggested that information technology has provided a
foundation to implement and develop the design for constructability method in
construction. Luiten and Fischer (1998) described a framework that helped researchers
and practitioners to approach computer-aided design for construction systematically.
They further argued that information technology provides a promising opportunity for
the building industry to integrate design for construction into its linear facility delivery
process and to approach a more cyclical process. Fox, Marsh and Cockerham (2001)
stated that it was possible to apply the fundamental principles of design for
manufacture, such as standard production design improvement rules and standard
production design evaluation metrics, to all buildings and building components. A
recent report (Egan, 1998) pointed out that a design for construction concept should be
developed in the construction industry as an equivalent concept of design for
manufacture in the manufacturing industry to achieve an annual reduction of 10% in
construction cost and construction time.

2.3.3. Phases of development in concepts
Generally, the development of buildability concepts can be divided into three phases
(Fig. 2.1). In the early phase, buildability is regarded as a design rationale that
narrowly focuses on providing design rationalization for ease of construction and
improving site productivity (e.g., CIRIA, 1983). In the developing phase, buildability
is regarded as a total project concept that embraces the whole life cycle of a
construction project (e.g., CII, 1986; CIIA, 1993). In its present phase, buildability is
integrated with new production philosophy, for instance, as design for construction
(Egan, 1998). This concept is integrated with the developed methodology of new
production philosophies, such as total quality management (TQM) (Anderson, Fisher,
and Gupta, 1995; Russell, et al., 1994).

Design rationale
As a narrowly focused concept with emphasis on
design for ease of construction and site productivity
A life-cycle concept
As a total project concept, embracing the planning, design,
procurement, field operations, and maintenance
A methodology of new production philosophy
Integration with philosophies, such as lean construction,
concurrent construction and TQM
Fig. 2.1 Evolution of buildability concepts
Source: Author

2.4. Buildability implementation
With the development of the buildability concept, various buildability concept
guidelines and principles were developed to integrate construction knowledge and
experience into different phases of a project development process. The practical
implementation of buildability was subject to the push and pull aspects that may
vary from one organization to another. The push aspect or the organizational aspect
(Section 2.4) placed the emphasis on management systems and the team-based
approaches. The pull aspect or the technical aspect focused on the IT-based
approaches (Sections 2.5 and 2.6) and attempted to combine these approaches with
organizational approaches to help design and construction organizations to fully
benefit from buildability implementation.

Various approaches and models were constructed to facilitate its implementation in
practice. Empirical studies were also conducted to examine the benefits and barriers to
implement the buildability concept guidelines, principles, approaches and models in
the practices developed, as well as gaps between potential and realized benefits of
buildability implementation.

2.4.1. Concept guidelines and principles
The CIRIAs report (1983) identified seven categories of buildability principles in the
form of provisional design guidelines and as the basis for further research, discussion
and development. These principles included carrying out thorough investigation and
design; planning for essential site production requirements; planning for a practical
sequence of building operations and early enclosure; planning for simplicity of
assembly and logic sequences; detailing for maximum repetition and standardization;
detailing for achievable tolerances; and specifying robust and suitable materials.
Adams (1989) further developed the seven principles above into sixteen more definite
ones, which included: thorough investigation; considering access at the design stage;
considering storage at the design stage; designing for minimum time below ground;
designing for early enclosure; using suitable materials; designing for the skill
available; designing for simple assembly; planning for maximum
repetition/standardization; maximizing the use of plant, allowing for sensible
tolerances; allowing for practical sequence of operations, avoiding return visits by
trades; planning to avoid damage to work and subsequent operations; designing for
safe construction; and communicating clearly.

The CII of the USA conducted three research studies to investigate the ways that
construction knowledge and experience can enhance constructability during the
conceptual planning phase of a project (Tatum, Vanegas and Williams, 1986), the
engineering and procurement phase of a project (OConnor, Rusch and Schulz, 1986a),
and the field operations phase of a project (OConnor and Davis, 1988). Based on the
three studies, the CII of the USA (CII, 1987a) published fourteen constructability
concepts, which included the following across the three phases:
Constructability concepts during the conceptual planning phase, including
constructability programs are made an integral part of project execution plans;
project planning actively involves construction knowledge and experience; the
source and qualifications of personnel with construction knowledge and experience
varies with different contracting strategies; overall project schedules are construction
sensitive; basic design approaches consider major construction methods; and site
layouts promote efficient construction.
Constructability concepts during the engineering and procurement phase, including
project constructability is enhanced when design and procurement schedules are
construction sensitive; designs are configured to enable efficient construction;
constructability is enhanced when design elements are standardized; project
constructability is enhanced when construction efficiency is considered in
specification development; constructability is enhanced when module/preassembly
designs are prepared to facilitate fabrication, transportation and installation; designs
promote construction accessibility of personnel, material and equipment; and designs
facilitate construction under adverse weather conditions.
Constructability concepts during the field operations phase, including
constructability is enhanced when innovative construction methods are utilized.

The Construction Industry Institute, Australia (CII Australia) also developed twelve
constructability principles within the Australian context with the help of the CII of the
USA (CII Australia, 1993). These principles included: integration, construction
knowledge, team skills, corporate objectives, available resources, external factors,
program, construction methodology, accessibility, specifications, construction
innovation, and feedback.

Generally, the review of principles and guidelines provides the practical background
and general knowledge for developing the decision support system for buildable

2.4.2. Organizational approaches to buildability implementation buildability management system
The CII of the USA (CII, 1987b) developed a total constructability management
system, which emphasized the commitment and adoption of a constructability program
and cost curve for the implementation of a constructability program. The total
constructability system includes three parts a constructability program, the cost-
influenced curve and the constructability concepts. Within this system, the cost-
influenced curve emphasizes that the constructability program has to be started as early
as possible. The constructability program is the application of a disciplined, systematic
optimization of the construction-related aspects of a project during the planning,
design, procurement, construction, test, and start-up phases by knowledgeable,
experienced construction personnel who are part of the project team (Construction
Management Committee, ASCE Construction Division, 1991). This program
comprises of seven components: self-assessment, policy, executive sponsor,
organization, procedure, appraisal and database. assessment, barriers and benefits
OConnor and Miller (1994a) identified fifteen significant corporate and project
parameters that reflect effective constructability program implementation and further
developed a Constructability Program Evaluation Matrix that defines five distinct
levels of project maturity no program, application of selected supports, informal
program, formal program, and comprehensive formal program. OConnor and Miller
(1994b) also identified eighteen prevalent barriers to implementing a constructability
program at both the corporate and project level and provided a three phase cycle,
including identification, mitigation, and review, to treat constructability barriers.

Russell, Gugel and Radtke (1992a) conducted a comparative analysis of three different
approaches, which were used by clients to implement constructability programs. This
study concluded that the four elements, including client involvement and support, early
incorporation of construction knowledge and experience, contracting strategy and team
building are keys to successfully implementing constructability programs. This study
resulted in the development of a framework, which can calculate a cost/benefit ratio
reflecting the effectiveness and/or maturity of a constructability program, to measure
costs and benefits from implementing constructability. guide
Based on the previous studies (OConnor and Miller, 1994a, 1994b; Russell, Gugel
and Radtke, 1992a, 1992b), CII (1993) developed a constructability implementation
roadmap. The roadmap offered nineteen constructability implementation tools to aid in
acquiring early client commitment and support, developing efficient and effective
teamwork, and building and sustaining effective constructability management systems. studies
Apart from the above-mentioned CII research, the National Cooperative Highway
Research Program of the USA also initiated a research to develop a systematic
approach and methodology for constructability review for transportation facilities. A
constructability review process (CRP) was developed by the IDEF0
technique (Anderson, Fisher and Rahman, 2000). Twenty-seven selected tools and
twenty-one constructability functions were integrated into the final CRP model and

IDEF0 is a structural analysis and design technique.
road maps were provided to indicate the linkage between basic and future tools and the
constructability functions these tools support (Fisher, Anderson and Rahman, 2000).
Glavinich (1995) discussed the use of design-phase scheduling and in-house design-
phase constructability review to increase the efficiency of a design and achieve
improved constructability. Low and Abeyegoonasekera (2001) used ISO 9000 quality
management systems as a working platform for implementing buildability principles at
both the design and construction stage of a project.

2.4.3. Surveys on implementation
Vardhan and Yates (1992) concluded that the methods of buildability were minimally
practiced by the building industry and the need for the use of constructability has not
yet been fully realized. However, most of the research showed that buildability
concepts and approaches were practiced and their practical implementation had
reported a variety of benefits. An early survey by the University of Wisconsin of 56
contractors indicated that 71% had a buildability program and estimated savings of
6.4% (CII Australia, 1993). Uhlik and Lories (1998) found that contractors applied
buildability concepts and participated in the earliest phase of the projects more often
than is thought. Eldin (1999) implied that adopting buildability concepts has the
potential for significantly reducing the project delivery time, for instance, up to 30%
without overall cost increase. Eldin (1999) also identified success factors,
implementation barriers and lessons learned for buildability implementation in

Previous studies also examined the gaps between the viewpoints of buildability
concepts and their practical applications. Nima, et al. (2001) revealed that the
Malaysian construction professionals had a wide understanding of the majority of
buildability concepts but they seldom applied these concepts in practice. Jergeas and
Van der Put (2001) indicated that the gaps between potential and realized benefits of
buildability implementation existed in the involvement of contractors in the design
phase, building mutual trust, respect and credibility between project planners,
designers, and contractors, willingness to adopt approaches that bring contractors into
the project from the very beginning, and willingness to try new approaches in the
interest of achieving significant gains in project cost, schedule, performance, and
safety. They further implied that significant gains in project costs, schedule,
performance, and safety could be achieved when the above gaps are filled.

2.5. Knowledge management in buildability
The studies reviewed in section 2.4 placed emphasis on concept guidelines and
principles, management systems, teamwork, client involvement and provision of tools
and methods. Along with these studies, recently researchers have focused much of
their research on the applications of information technology (IT) in practical
buildability implementation (e.g., Skibniewski and Arciszewski, 1997; Luiten and
Fischer, 1998; Yu and Skibniewski, 1999a, 1999b). In particular, IT is able to aid in
knowledge management in construction through acquiring, processing and utilizing
buildability knowledge and information (Skibniewski and Arciszewski, 1997). Thus,
research in this domain is divided into and reviewed as four topic areas: knowledge
classification, knowledge acquisition and knowledge representation and computerized
systems for knowledge management.

2.5.1. Knowledge classification
Knowledge classification is the starting point of knowledge management in
buildability. Several knowledge and information classification systems were developed
in this area with different emphasis.

In the arena of construction technology, Tatum (1988) proposed a classification system,
which includes the four major components: material and equipment resources;
construction-applied resources; construction processes; and project requirements and
constraints. Each of these components is further defined by elements and attributes.
This classification system provides a useful tool to measure technological change and
analyze specific operations for potential improvement. Ioannou and Liu (1993)
developed the Advanced Construction Technology System (ACTS). This technology
system provided classification of new technologies based on the Construction
Specification Institutes CSI Master format in a database with facilities for searching

In the arena of structural designs, Fischer (1991) and Fischer and Tatum (1997)
developed a framework of constructability factors for preliminary design of reinforced
concrete structures. These factors are grouped into endogenous and exogenous factors.
Endogenous factors were related to design variables (e.g., the dimensions of a beam)
and were under the control of the designer. Exogenous factors are beyond the control
of the designer (e.g., route restrictions of site). To make the design-relevant
constructability knowledge available to designers at the right time during design
development, Fischer (1991) and Fischer and Tatum (1997) further divided this body
of knowledge into the following five groups: application heuristics, layout knowledge,
dimensioning knowledge, detailing knowledge, and exogenous knowledge. Lueprasert
(1996) and Skibniewski, Arciszewski and Lueprasert (1997) developed a knowledge
classification space for conceptual structural design. The knowledge was classified into
two major categories: (1) structural data, which was further classified into three
categories, structural (e.g., dimensions, reinforcement ratio), relational (e.g., position,
orientation, relationship), and others (e.g., identification, physical characteristics,
differences between connected members, main connections characteristics); and (2)
preliminary construction conditions, which included equipment availability, material
availability, crew availability, and construction period.
More broadly, Hanlon and Sanvido (1995) developed a comprehensive
Constructability Information Model (CIM) for the whole life cycle of a construction
project. The resulting CIM is a hierarchical breakdown of constructability concept
attributes grouped into categories and attributes. The major categories include design
rules, lessons learned, external constraints, resource constraints, and performance

2.5.2. Knowledge acquisition
Acquisition of buildability knowledge within a proper classification system is the key
to effectively managing and applying buildability knowledge (Fischer and Tatum,
1997). The conventional knowledge acquisition techniques, including voluntary
survey, questionnaires, interviews, pre-construction meeting notes, and final project
reports, were discussed and analyzed by OConnor, Larimore and Tucker (1986b). In
particular, OConnor, Larimore and Tucker (1986b) recommended that the interview is
an effective approach to identifying ways in which designs may become more
construction-sensitive. The conventional knowledge acquisition techniques were used
by researchers (e.g., Fischer, 1991; Malek, 1996) to acquire buildability knowledge.

Knowledge acquisition is the major bottleneck for computerized buildability analysis
(Skibniewski, Arciszewski and Lueprasert, 1997). In order to remove the knowledge
acquisition bottleneck for computerized buildability analysis, automated knowledge
acquisition techniques were adopted by researchers (Lueprasert, 1996; Skibniewski,
Arciszewski and Lueprasert, 1997) to acquire buildability knowledge. For instance,
Lueprasert (1996) and Skibniewski, Arciszewski and Lueprasert (1997) developed an
inductive learning system through the learning for examples program called AQ15 to
acquire and generate formal buildability knowledge. Yu and Skibniewski (1999a)
described a methodology for automotatic knowledge acquisition of construction
technologies through combing the neuro-fuzzy network-based approach with genetic

2.5.3. Knowledge representation
After the buildability knowledge is acquired, the knowledge should be organized in a
format desirable to its future use. The development of knowledge representation can be
divided into two phases. Early research focused on representing the general
buildability knowledge as design principles and concept guidelines that were intended
to stimulate designers thinking about buildability and how to make it work (see
Section 2.4.1). Recent research organized and represented buildability knowledge in
various formats that support computerized applications.

For instance, Fischer (1991) represented the constructability knowledge in the form of
explicit constructability knowledge in a way that is suitable for input to the design
process. The knowledge was represented through three main steps: formalization and
organization of constructability knowledge, development of a product model in the
form of a three-dimensional object-based CAD system to represent project data, and
integration of the product model with the constructability knowledge.

IF/THEN rules were also used to represent buildability knowledge in the knowledge
base. Lueprasert (1996) and Skibniewski, Arciszewski and Lueprasert (1997)
represented constructability knowledge in the form of decision rules. The knowledge
was represented as a collection of attributes and their values that were used to
characterize decisions regarding the problem under consideration. The typical decision
rule was exemplified as:
If the following conditions are met:
(1) Reinforcement ratio of the beam is low.
(2) The second column-to-beam reinforcement ratio is low.
(3) Number of walls attached to the slab is one.
Then constructability evaluation of a beam is expected to be excellent.

Malek (1996) represented the constructability knowledge as the Modus Ponens format.
The typical rule was exemplified as:
If the acquisition cost of the construction system under consideration is low, Then the
constructability is high.

2.5.4. Computerized systems for knowledge management
Computerized systems were developed to automatically manage and process available
buildability knowledge and information. Based on their various functions, the
developed systems can be grouped into four categories.

The first group used a database to manage known constructability knowledge (Navo,
Shapira and Shechori, 2000). For instance, CII Australia (1993) built a constructability
database, which contained examples of constructability savings on some Australian
projects. Individual companies can use the database to record their experiences so that
constructability can be improved in the future.

The second group attempted to integrate constructability knowledge and information
within automated design systems (Navo, Shapira and Shechori, 2000). For instance,
Alshawi and Underwood (1996) developed an integrated object-oriented system. Their
system was proposed to recommend the appropriate exterior cladding and lining type,
the gird layout, the column sizes, the floor to ceiling height and the beam sizes, check
the tolerance compatibility for the recommended exterior cladding and lining type, and
establish the optimum lining element for each cladding element, based on specific
information of the project. However, the system does not diagnose a given design
(Navon, Shapira and Shechori, 2000).

The third group analyzed existing design solutions from the executive perspective
(Navo, Shapira and Shechori, 2000). For example, Fischer (1991) developed the
prototype system COKE (COnstructability Knowledge Expert). The system can reason
about the geometrical and topological forms of a given design through constructability
heuristics and provide feedback on the constructability of the structural design of a
reinforced concrete building structure.

The fourth group provided two important functions of constructability analysis,
namely, to detect potential constructability problems in the early phase of a project and
then to find solutions for them (Yu and Skibniewski, 1999b). For instance, Navon,
Shapira and Shechori (2000) modeled a system to automatically diagnose potential
rebar-related constructability problems and offer solutions to the problems discovered.
Udaipurwala and Russell (2002) proposed a comprehensive decision support system.
The system can store and access construction domain knowledge through an intelligent
representation structure and formulate and access a project plan.

2.6. Buildability evaluation and reviews
A buildability review is a comprehensive analysis and assessment of all factors related
to the feasibility of a project through the reasonable use of available buildability
knowledge and information. Previous research has attempted to provide qualitative and
quantitative approaches to buildability reviews and evaluation. These approaches are
reviewed and discussed below.

2.6.1. The regression analysis approach
Touran (1988) used the regression analysis approach to measure the effects of
elements irregularities on formwork productivity. The following equation was used:
ij i j

Where: A = Area of the beam; X = Productivity rate; Y = Total man-hour; n = Total
number of known productivity rate; j = Floor number.
However, the use of the above approach for constructability evaluation has serious
limitations. The major weakness is that it is difficult to imagine a situation in
construction where productivity rates remain absolutely constant for every floor
(Malek, 1996). Touran (1988) also stated that the regression analysis was not
successful on the first few floors because there were too many variations.

2.6.2. The expert system approach
An expert system is an information system that follows human lines of reasoning,
expressed in rules (e.g., IF/THEN rules), to arrive at a conclusion from known facts
(Mallach, 1994). The approach is extensively used to solve the problems in the
construction industry, as well as in buildability reviews and evaluation. For instance,
Alkass, Jergeas and Tyler (1992) developed a PC-based prototype expert system,
called Constructability Assessment for a Detailed Design system to evaluate the
constructability of a design detail. Fischer (1991) also developed a prototype expert
system to aid designers in achieving a more constructable reinforced concrete
structural system.

However, the classical expert system techniques have their inherent drawbacks, which
include: they cannot solve the problems that involve our subconscious use of common
sense that does not map well into production rules of expert system techniques; their
domain of expertise is usually narrow; they are brittle at their limits; and, they may be
costly to develop, in terms of the total time of the human experts and other people
involved in the process of development. In addition to the above-mentioned
drawbacks, production rules in conventional expert systems are deemed to be either
applicable or not applicable. However, most practical buildability problems depend
heavily on intuitive thinking and professional expertise that usually have a large
variation of shades of gray as opposed to black and white colors (Malek, 1996). Thus,
the classical expert system techniques have their limitations in solving problems in the
buildability domain.

To overcome the inherent drawbacks of the traditional expert system technique, the
decision support system was developed by combining three techniques, namely QFD,
fuzzy set theories and fuzzy systems. QFD provides a framework to broaden the
expertise by integrating the different disciplines into the decision-making processes of
buildable designs. Fuzzy set theories were used to capture the common sense
involved in buildable designs. Fuzzy systems provide a more flexible, economical and
reliable way to utilize the knowledge and experience in buildable designs.

2.6.3. The artificial neural network approach
Artificial neural networks (ANNs) were developed to mimic the biological neural
systems in learning, association, and generalization from training patterns or data (Yu,
1996). Based on the fuzzy ANN approach, Yu and Skibniewski (1999a, 1999b)
developed a prototype computer system, named Construction Technology Selector, for
constructability analysis and improvement of construction technologies. The system
has two basic functions. Firstly, the system can automatically acquire the buildability
knowledge through the combination of fuzzy logic with the learning abilities of neural
networks and genetic algorithms. Secondly, the system can evaluate construction
technology alternatives through a neuro-fuzzy knowledge-based multi-criterion
decision support system.

ANNs, especially the neuro-fuzzy approach, are promising methods to solve
knowledge acquisition problems in buildability reviews and evaluation (Yu, 1996; Yu
and Skibniewski, 1999a). However, the methods have several limitations and these
include: ANNs are black-box methods; ANNs are prone to having overfitting problems
due to their typical, large parameter set to be estimated; tedious experiments and trial-
and-error procedures are often used in ANNs; ANNs usually require more data and
computer time for training; and ANNs are data-driven and model-free and hence they
may be too dependent on a particular sample observed (Zhang, Patuwo and Hu, 1998).

For constructability evaluation and reviews, the decision makers want to know not
only how buildable a project is, but also why it is not builable. However, ANNs fall
short in answering the latter question due to its drawbacks (Yu, 1996). Moreover,
ANNs are also difficult in providing a structured mechanism for buildability reviews.

2.6.4. The fuzzy approach
Fuzzy set theories, introduced by Zadeh (1965), are widely used to solve the ill-
structured design and construction problems as well as buildability problems. For
instance, Malek (1996) developed a constructability assessment model for selecting the
optimum construction system for project execution. Chao and Skibniewski (1998)
developed a fuzzy-logic based risk-incorporating approach to evaluating new
construction technology. Generally, the fuzzy approach is a feasible and promising
approach for buildability reviews and evaluation (Malek , 1996; Yu, 1996; Chao and
Skibniewski, 1998). In particular, the fuzzy approach can be used to develop a
structured approach for formal buildability reviews and evaluation. A further
description of fuzzy set theories is given in section 4.2.
2.6.5. The Buildable Design Appraisal System (BDAS)
The Singapore Buildable Design Appraisal System (BDAS) was developed by the then
Singapores Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) with the help of
various government agencies, leading local and foreign contractors, consultants and
product manufacturers, and employed the productivity data inputs supplied by them
(CIDB, 1993). The three principles, namely, standardization, simplicity and single
integrated elements were adopted by the system for buildability assessment (CIDB,
1993). Depending on the extent to which the three principles are adopted, the appraisal
system awards a set of parameter values or indices for each type of structural and
architectural system and other buildable design details (Poh and Chen, 1998).

The appraisal system employs equation 2.2 to compute a buildable score.
BS = 50[ (As Ss)] + 30[ (Aw Sw)] + N 2.2
Where: As =Asa / Ast, and Aw =Awa / Awt; As = Percentage of total floor area using
a particular structural design; Ast = Total floor area which includes roof (projected
area) and basement area; Asa = Floor area using the particular structural design; Aw =
Percentage of total external and internal wall areas using the particular wall design;
Awt = Total wall area, excluding perimeter wall of the basement; all internal walls in
the basement are to be considered; Awa = External and internal wall areas using the
particular wall design; Ss = Labor saving index for structural design, Sw = Labor
saving index for external and internal wall design; N = Buildability Score for other
buildable design features.

The Buildability Score of a project, which may consist of more than one building, is
computed by equation 2.3.
( )
( )
Ast building
BS project=Sum of BS building
Ast project


Generally, the appraisal system provides a feasible quantitative method to assess the
potential impact of design on labor usage during the construction process. However,
the appraisal system was criticized for its internal shortcomings. These shortcomings
mainly include: the appraisal system does not consider any project-related and site-
related factors that can affect site productivity; the appraisal system also does not
consider unit construction costs (Poh and Chen, 1998).

2.7. Summary
In this chapter, the state-of-the-art buildability and constructability was described and
discussed. It is noted that the theme that runs through the various studies completed
was to provide tools, methods and ways to integrate construction knowledge and
relevant information into all phases (planning, procurement, design, construction and
use) of the project lifecycle in order to achieve optimum project goals and building

The research aims at developing a decision support system for buildable designs. The
review of the principles and guidelines for buildability implementation provides the
theoretical foundation to develop the knowledge management model for buildable
designs (KM-BD, see Section 5.4). The review of knowledge management in
buildability provides the ways for organizing the buildability knowledge and
information into a manageable format. The review of knowledge management also
reveals the suitable functions of the proposed system. An examination of buildability
reviews and evaluation shows the advantages and disadvantages of the various possible
approaches to developing the proposed system.