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Human face on the concrete jungle
I have met people who turn down projects associated with questionable leadership or handled by rogue consultants.

Human face on the concrete jungle

There are no miracles in the construction industry. Instead, brains at work realise a dwelling unit or a commercial office block. Brains that endeavour to actualise a developer’s dream while employing all possible scientific calculations. The construction team is thus made up of people, not machines. This requires all possible skills that are employed to manage any group of people.

From inspiration, to motivation, to communication, to appreciation and just about any methodology that will assure team cohesion. No wonder the Tower of Babel could not be completed once this bond was lost! Everybody’s role is therefore to be appreciated and must be embraced, otherwise the project’s completion will drag.

The architect will not assume the role of the engineer is inferior and vice versa. The contractor on the other hand won’t be the one designing the building as well as implementing it. This is because a lot of conflict of interest is bound to arise when the contractor, for instance, dictates how much they shall be paid for work done. See, they are bound to overstate it to cover themselves for any eventualities and possibly take the shorter and cheaper route to accomplishing any role on site.

Of course with hands-on experience, a person will fathom and may comprehend just how the specialist executes his role and may want to try it on his own. They may want to do the plumbing on their own, or the structural design, the electrical wiring and so on. It may or may not work. This is because every project is unique, with its set of attributes, and only careful thought process can distinguish each of them while prescribing the optimal result.

Surely, the replication and repeating rules are never universal and applicable to everything. Team compatibility is also important. This is why more often than not, I have met people who turn down projects associated with certain people or ‘strong’ personalities, for example, where the project-leadership is questionable or it’s handled by a rogue consultant, one who withholds people’s money or does not execute his duties as required.

This also extends to the clientele, especially those who never leave you in peace or will never give you autonomy of execution. They will examine the work of your hands with suspicion, almost exalting their entitlement as a client on you. Importantly also, we must also recognise that humans are bound to err in the construction industry. This is because the human face in the concrete jungle may also mean that there will be errors in projects.

This is not the same as giving room for negligence and malpractices but more like being prepared for this eventuality. No one is perfect, and many factors will always affect an individual’s judging capacity. An engineer may underestimate the ground conditions in a certain site and thus prescribe a different solution, but this is to be rectified as soon as its noticed, provided that there is a conducive relatedness on site.

How to handle mistakes is thus as important as any other process on site for this will determine just how fast everyone gets back on track for the good of the project. In conclusion, we all must embrace the human-ness inthe concrete jungle. We must recognise that this is one sector where robots and computer simulations are not likely to be employed any time soon. And for as long as science has to be employed and implemented by man, he has to be motivated to give his best. The writer is an official of the Institute of Quantity Surveyors of Kenya. - By Jen Musyimi



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