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Title: A critical examination of new constructional techniques and their influence on productivity in the building industry, with special reference to housing in south-east Scotland
Author: Sidwell, Norman C.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1957
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Abstract:
In these notes which follow, an attempt is made in the first instance to sketch in the background to this investigation of the effect of new constructional techniques on productivity. Then in Vol. 2 a representative selection of new techniques is critically examined, and wherever possible the effect of the new method on productivity is discussed. In Part Two the aspects of productivity and cost are considered more closely by summarising the data already assembled in Vol. 2 of Part One, together with certain additional notes and analyses relating to productivity and cost. The scope of this study is limited to constructional techniques and therefore does not take account of, or seek to enter into such fruitful fields of enquiry as site organisation and management, architectural design, etc. In the early stages of this study it was soon found that it would indeed be necessary to exercise some discrimination in the selection of suitable techniques for examination owing to the bewildering variety of new constructional methods now being applied in the industry. Occasionally there have been instances where these enquiries have included a process which is not strictly a process/ L} process of construction. For example, the packaging of bricks has been discussed and also a number of mechanical aids to more productive building. Wherever possible, however, I have endeavoured to confine my studies to methods of construction. The scope of this thesis was further limited . by confining all study to new methods employed in house - building. This limitation was applied, firstly because the housing aspect of the building industry is worthy of a considerable amount of study and secondly because the field would otherwise have been Duch todlarge for any reasonable concentration of thought. Indeed, in the study of the many types of buildings which can properly be described as houses, the field has been wide enough and it may be that as a consequence of this, there has perhaps been slightly more emphasis on the two or three- storey type of house types rather than multi- storey flats. It was intended that this study should have special reference to housing in South East Scotland because it was originally considered that there should be ample opportunity for site studies in this area. In particular it was hoped that a certain amount of time and motion study/ 6 study might be applied experimentally to a pre = planned scheme of four- storey maisonettes to be carried out by the Dept. of Health in Edinburgh during 1955. These maisonettes were to incorporate a number of interesting techniques of cost - saving construction. It turned out, however, that the Dept. was not interested in my offer to carry out, partly as a College project, observations and cost analyses based on labour expenditure. This was in spite of the fact that the consultant quantity surveyor for this scheme had said that he would welcome my assistance in this connection. A substantial number of the techniques which have been examined do, however, relate to Scottish house - building and wherever possible the examples have been drawn from the South East area of Scotland. From time to time it will be noted that Scottish building terms are used when describing the various constructional processes or parts of buildings, e.g. scarcement, deafening, rhone, slapping, etc.; in most instances the meaning of the term will be obvious from tho text, but where any doubt arises reference should be made to the Glossary of Scottish Building Terms included as an Appendix. In a number of instances the critical examination of new methods has been supported by laboratory tests or trial, and for the facilities necessary to do this work I am indebted to the Principal and Governors of the Heriot-Watt College. The difficulties encountered in the study of the economic aspects of the new methods proved to be far greater than were anticipated. Many contractors and others connected with the industry were approached for data on labour expenditure applied to particular processes, and in practically all instances there was a complete inability or unwillingness to provide the desired information. A similar result was experienced when attempts were made to obtain a representative selection of priced bills of quantities relating to house -building work that had included new building methods designed to save costs. My intention here was to analyse a substantial number of priced bills on an elemental basis, but it was possible to obtain only a relatively small amount of this type of cost data. The cost analyses based on these data are inserted in Appendix A to Part 2. Many letters of enquiry were sent to various contractors, manufacturing firms, architects, etc., and some extremely useful information was obtained in this way. But it was quite the exception to receive a prompt and really informative reTTly to these enquiries. In many cases the enquiries were siinply ignored - even by a number of local authority and private architects, who, one might have thought would have had the courtesy to reply, however unhelpfully. These difficulties that have been described are in no way unusual: an extract from the 1956/57 Report of the Advisory Council on Building Research and Development reads - "It is difficult to establish the actual cost of the construction of separate structural components because few builders outside the largest firms operate exact systems of cost recording and there is an understandable reluctance to divulge detailed figures even when they are available; Government departments suffer from the same reluctance. In any case it is necessary to find out what kind of cost data would be most helpful to architects and how such data would best be compiled ". In spite of this regrettable dearth of detailed information it has been possible, with the co- operation of such organisations as the Scottish Special Housing Association and one or two research- minded contracting firms, together with personal observation, much reading, and experiment to make a critical assessment of a selected group of techniques and in many cases, to publish factual information on productivity and cost. Some extracts from this thesis have already been published in the Transactions of the .Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and other technical journals, (copies of these publications are deposited with this thesis). It is hoped that a substantial part of the findings in the thesis will eventually be published in professional and technical journals and will serve, in a modest way, to inform the professions and the industry on these vital matters of productivity and cost.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.661897  DOI: Not available
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