Assessing the true cost of design variations – a designer’s perspective

Liddell, Benjamin Steven (2014) Assessing the true cost of design variations – a designer’s perspective. [USQ Project]


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It is well known within the Australian engineering and construction industry that design variations are prevalent on most projects. They have the ability to be beneficial or detrimental to the design and construction process and are perceived differently between project participants.

This dissertation aims to investigate the major causes, effects and costs of design variations encountered on engineering projects from a designer’s perspective.
The research will take an in-depth look at previous research identified through academic and industry literature. An industry case study was carried out on of five different engineering projects, suggested by local government designers. The data was analysed, identifying possible causes for the variation, and the redesign and documentation costs associated with remediating the problem. Results from these case studies suggest that insufficient site investigations prior to the detailed design stages and inadequate communication between stakeholders lead to the design variations encountered.

A questionnaire survey was also developed and distributed to local government designers and private companies within the engineering industry. The questionnaire was designed to obtain the opinions and experiences respondents had in relation to the findings of the literature review. Results from the questionnaire suggest that there is an industry wide view that clients initiate over 50% of design variations. Results also suggest that inadequate design and documentation is encountered frequently by respondents, and that redesign and documentation is a common occurrence which impacts heavily on the designer.

Using the information gather through the case studies and questionnaire survey, recommendations were developed to reduce costs and impacts on future projects. Achievements, limitations and potential future studies were also identified.

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Item Type: USQ Project
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) project.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Civil Engineering and Surveying (1 Jul 2013 - 31 Dec 2021)
Supervisors: Tilley, Paul
Date Deposited: 09 Sep 2015 04:59
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2016 01:18
Uncontrolled Keywords: design changes; design veriations; documentation quality, variations, cost impacts; Australia; engineering; construction; design research; local government designers; design remediation
Fields of Research (2008): 12 Built Environment and Design > 1203 Design Practice and Management > 120399 Design Practice and Management not elsewhere classified
09 Engineering > 0905 Civil Engineering > 090599 Civil Engineering not elsewhere classified
09 Engineering > 0905 Civil Engineering > 090502 Construction Engineering
12 Built Environment and Design > 1202 Building > 120201 Building Construction Management and Project Planning
Fields of Research (2020): 33 BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN > 3303 Design > 330399 Design not elsewhere classified
40 ENGINEERING > 4005 Civil engineering > 400599 Civil engineering not elsewhere classified
40 ENGINEERING > 4005 Civil engineering > 400504 Construction engineering
33 BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN > 3302 Building > 330202 Building construction management and project planning

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