Practical plan reviews gauge project constructability

Picture this: You have conceptualized an expansive project to improve your airport. The design checks all your boxes — extra space, innovative features, modern appearance. Your funding is secured, and you’re ready to break ground.

Wait a minute, though. There’s one more box to check: Is your design feasible to construct?

Constructability is a term often used to refer to a commonsense review of an engineer’s plans for the ability to carry the plans through to successful construction. Conducting a constructability assessment prior to starting a project can reveal obstacles before and reduce or prevent errors, delays and cost overruns.

Constructability also defines the ease and efficiency with which structures and pavements can be built. Generally, the more constructible a project is, the more economical it will be. Constructability is, in part, a reflection of the quality of the design documents; that is, if the design documents are difficult to understand and interpret, the project will be difficult to build.

Doing our homework

Hanson believes it is essential to include the construction observation team early in the project design — prior to completing a set of project plans and specifications — to conduct a thorough quality control review. A constructability review requires in-depth construction experience and an intimate knowledge of the type of project and its location. For example, it would not be appropriate to have a mechanical engineer perform a constructability review of a runway rehabilitation. When someone is designated to perform a constructability review, they must be experienced in the project type and location and receive an appropriate amount of time to complete a comprehensive review.

Hanson also reviews the design plans and specifications from the viewpoints of the contractor constructing the design and the airport staff. This review is critical in helping us develop a set of contract documents that minimize the chances of change orders or claims during construction.

Using the power of experience

The constructability review requires developing appropriate project estimates within an acceptable range of the contractor’s bid. Hanson maintains a database of construction cost information from all design and construction projects with which we are involved. Many years of experience in project estimating allow our staff the ability to provide dependable estimates for budgetary purposes. We monitor the proposed construction costs throughout design, discuss any potential concerns with you and evaluate and amend the plans accordingly throughout the project. Monitoring a project’s progress against its plan keeps all parties up to date to avoid budgeting problems that could affect the project’s planned completion.

Hanson includes all key personnel in the constructability review process. Depending on the complexity and the various elements of the project, the personnel will include, at a minimum, the project manager, appropriate project lead managers, the design engineer and the construction manager (resident project representative). The review includes a series of meetings to confirm the project team is moving the project forward as planned through the optimum use of construction knowledge, methodology and experience.

A project that has undergone an incomplete and rushed review of plans and specifications can lead to cost overruns and time delays. Our construction observation professionals know that these equate to a less-than-satisfactory outcome for the client. Hanson has an established and proven track record of maintaining high responsiveness and accountability for project outcomes, the flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances and a never-ending commitment to the quality of the final product.

Mike Moon is an aviation staff consultant at Hanson who can be reached at