• Maret Thatcher

Why Construction is So Darned Expensive

Updated: 4 days ago

Today is Part 2 of our Quality Assurance/Quality Control in construction series. So--Why are buildings so tricky? Why is construction prone to rework? And in the words of everyone who has ever hired a bathroom redux--why is construction so, very expensive?


If you’re not in construction, you probably don’t get it--you might think that building a building is not too different from any other manufacturing process. Oh, we wish.


The building construction industry and the "products" (structures) they build are uniquely challenging.


Here is how building a building is unique and prone to errors:

1. Snowflakes. Every building is unique and different. Even a “copycat” building will be built on different soil, at a different time, with a different team, and heaven forbid there is actual snow. Standardization of builds is challenging, so the industry often relies on experienced, savvy Project Managers to see the project through the inevitable challenges.


2. Fractured Communication. The construction industry is specialized and segmented. From the time a developer or big client decides they want to build to the time it’s built, years may have passed. During that time, it’s like Oregon Trail--you’re going to lose half your wagon party to competing projects along the way. It’s hard to have project communication consistency in the best of situations, so teams with good project management onboarding and co-location often do much better.


3. Macho, macho man. This should surprise no one--particularly fellow women in construction, but there is still a bit of machismo that affects the modern jobsite. We’ve found real anxiety in asking questions. Whether it’s real or perceived, there is an idea that asking clarifying questions isn’t supported by Supers and PMs. So, there is a tendency for subcontractors and trade to proceed as best as they can with partial information until...whooops! There’s an error.


4. In it for the Long Haul. Most of the prime contractors I’ve worked with value their relationships with owners so much, that they would rather eat some of the costs of an owner-based design error rather than have it negatively impact their contractor/owner relationships. This trend, along and increasing integrated project delivery models show that collaboration wins over finger pointing and litigation. As a disenchanted former lawyer, I cannot emphasise how good this is for the construction industry (or how bad it is for the construction litigation industry).


5. Underutilization of BIM. Whether it's under budgeted or not well understood, the data rich models that contractors create pre design are shockingly underutilized. The software industry seems to have gone out of its way to make BIM difficult to transfer and use. BIM use stays pretty siloed, and often doesn’t reach the hands of front line workers who would benefit most from quick, easy reference to the structure’s data and geometries.


The things that make Construction such a challenging industry also make Augmented Reality a uniquely valuable tool for this industry.

Bringing 3D data into its real world context unlocks BIM’s potential on the jobsite. If you can see--instead of imagine--a three dimensional structure, you’re better able to evaluate and anticipate problems, communicate to stakeholders of all experience levels, and develop a transparent, long term relationship with project owners.


When we first started using Augmented Reality with our construction clients in early 2018, the available solutions were designed more for product manufacturers than for the messy realities of the construction site.


But as we know, building a building is unique and the process of getting from your 3D model to the jobsite was generally more hassle than it was worth.


We designed Argyle from the ground up to respond to the unique challenges of the building industry.


With its huge 3D models, ever-changing jobsites, fractured communication, and all.



Augmented or "Mixed" Reality with Argyle is smoother, faster, and more accessible than ever.


As newly minted Microsoft Partners, we're ready to take your Enterprise to the Next Generation. And if you're still reading with us this far, we regret nothing about making all these Star Trek references.




Stay tuned for our upcoming listing in the Microsoft Azure Marketplace and Check out our new Technologies and Capabilities page here: https://www.argyle.build/tech-capabilities.


NEXT UP: Context in Construction QA. The site itself is the riskiest variable, so how can we bring all this data and pre-planning into context.


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