The Importance of Effective Communication in Construction
Communication in construction is vital to achieving a successful construction process from inception to completion. Good communication within a team can improve team working skills, lead to positive collaboration and result in an optimistic project journey for the client. So, what are the best ways to maintain effective communication and keep the project running smoothly?
Establish Clear Lines of Communication
Early on in a construction project it is important to establish a clear line of communication and determine a chain of command. Lines of communication become apparent when a contract is put in place between the client and main contractor. The architect is the line of communication between the client and contractor. The architect is responsible for communicating and liaising with various consultants and contractors, who then communicate information to the various suppliers and sub-contractors.
The contract documents, inclusive of drawings, specifications, interim certificates and architect’s instructions provide the basis for all construction communication. It is important that any variations to the contract are discussed, communicated to all involved parties, authorized, and documented via an architect’s instruction and reported.
Not reporting variations in this type of procedure can lead to major delays on site and money spent unnecessarily, therefore it is important to maintain regular communication between the client, architect and main contractor.
Choose an Appropriate Method of Communication
There are numerous methods of communicating whether it be by phone, video, texting or email. On site communication can be in the form of signals, signs, drawings, photos, and verbal meetings. However, various methods can have their advantages and disadvantages: sometimes a short matter of fact email is all that is required to communicate a point. On the other hand, this may not be enough and a scheduled meeting on site face to face may be necessary.
A method of communication for specific tasks and information sharing should be established between all parties, such as email or dropbox and agreed early on by all parties. Sticking to the agreed methods will prevent information from being lost and avoid unnecessary delays on site.
When communicating verbally, face to face or by phone, it is important to listen and take notes of key points and details that may need clarification or action. Concentrate on what the speaker is saying and avoid interruptions until they are through speaking. Verify the information provided, seek feedback and ask questions when in the position to speak. Don’t wait until the conversation is over before sending an email requesting clarification on some aspect of a project as this may cause further delay.
Be Clear and Concise
When communicating in construction, it is important to make sure a message can be understood prior to sending it to the intended recipients. Avoid using jargon, excessive wording or vague terms that are unclear. A message should be short and simple, focused and to the point. The real challenge is to be brief but comprehensive; try to be as detailed as possible whilst using as little words as possible. It can be helpful to proofread all written messages before sending to see if they can be shortened whilst still effectively communicating critical information.
Paying attention to these few points should help avoid some of the most common mistakes that happen because of poor communication. Communication begins with clearly established lines and methods and requires regularly touching in with the architect and main contractor, whilst being as clear and concise as possible. When a team manages to exchange concepts and ideas clearly and effectively, it makes things run smoother and ensures the project is delivered on time.