The interests perspective of the Planning/construction industry

Both industries, planning and construction, are composed of different players with very specific interests. In most of the construction projects we can find 4 parties involved: the investors, planners, constructors and permission granters. Sometimes, for the large-scale projects, there may be some additional shareholders (the state or sports/international authority), such as Olympic games or ITER, but they are so rare that we can leave them out.

Each of these four members has its own interests in the construction process, often conflicting or influencing other interests. The art of construction is actually to balance these four forces, which are pulling the project in their own direction. In order to create beautiful projects, it is necessary to reach an equilibrium between these forces. The better the balance, the better overall result. If they are off, the building will suffer in one way or another. They will be either dull, poorly built, non-pleasing, or non serving their initial purpose.

Let’s take a look at those specific interests:

Investors: Their main two motivations are the building usage and to keep the construction costs under control. They are also very interested in actually finish the building. Commercial investors have to sell the building, which makes them very motivated to make the building, well, sell-able. If they need to build and sell 11 units to make a construction feasible, they have to do it, no way around it. Sometimes that leads to conflicts with planners and permission granters. Aesthetics is also important, but not that much, except for design-afluent individuals, but they are a minority. Most of the investors are satisfied with a good-enough design.

Planners: Architects are in general motivated by aesthetics and don’t really care that much about the costs. From a cynical point of view they are the most interested in getting great pictures at the end of the project. They are striving for projects which have to be pretty, they have to stand out, be unique, different, add quality to their surroundings. Sometimes the permission granters share very different views on what should be built, forcing the planners to compromise. Also the investors will limit them with costs control. Aesthetics as their main focus also means that they will be very picky about the construction details, making the constructors frustrated.

Constructors: The construction details are not the main focus for the constructors. They are much more preocupied about costs and the time schedule. Quite often they try to look for short-cuts, use cheaper materials and techniques, frustrating both the planers and investors. Aesthetics is of no interest to them, as it doesn’t bring any added value to their work. Sometimes they are interested in the size of the project, because of their commissions.

The state/permission granters: In most countries their main job is to keep sure that the new building will not stand out too much from their surroundings, directly conflicting investors and planners. They don’t care about the construction costs or the time frame that much, either. They also limit the manipulation space for the constructors to protect the public interests. They may limit the waste disposal, maximal size of the lorries, the working hours on the construction site, and similar limitations.

I think it is good to be aware of these biases. It may help you, regardless where you are in the process. If you will be as investor limiting too much the planers, building will not be sell-able. If a constructor will try to cut corners too much, he will have to pay extra penalties at the end (plus getting a bad reference for the future). If a planer will not take into consideration the limitations of investors and constructors, will bring a project to a standstill. It is the balance (and the awareness of the balance which is critical.

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