The Benefits of Simplified Design

What is the current challenge? 

Currently within construction we are faced with a skills shortage, project cost overruns and often a lot of time spent on site due to complexity.  

The skills shortage is amplified by complex building and envelope design. Complex design means more competency in skills is required by stakeholders to ensure build quality. A key issue highlighted in the Hackitt Report as a “key concern”. Further to this the lack of project repeatability and “minor” changes to design have a knock-on effect on project costs. Lack of repeatability often means bespoke manufacturing requirements which in turn raises cost. 

Complex balcony designs for example, can often indicate a complex design throughout the building and envelope.

Why should you simplify your balcony project? 

Firstly, a simplified design can significantly increase cost savings or cost avoidance. Reducing the number of balcony types, reducing differing widths and projections, and avoiding complex detailing, brings economies of scale in the procurement, manufacturing, and delivery of balconies. This can often be done without noticeable aesthetic differences.  

The second benefit of standardisation is time savings on site. By designing simple interfacing details at junctions between the balconies and the façade, can mean less time on additional design and a reduction in site meetings, which in turn reduces costs and programme time. Complex interfaces cause additional involvement of trades in the design and on site.  

Thirdly, a reduced number of balcony types can minimise transport costs and carbon emissions as balconies can be nested inside each other for transport, thus reducing the number of lorries and trips required to site. 

The fourth benefit of simplified design is a reduced risk of quality issues. When production of a component becomes a learnt process through repetition less mistakes occur, providing greater quality assurance on site & project teams. Reduced reliance on a tradesperson’s competency increases build quality.  

The reduction of site & manufacturing waste is the fifth benefit of standardisation. By using material in the most efficient way, for example designing balcony projections to work to whole deck board modules, avoids the need to cut individual boards and reduces wastage. Selecting component sizes with the use of CAD design and CNC machinery makes the best use of raw materials. 

What impact does this have? 

Often architects and specifiers may be concerned about the potential aesthetic impact of simplified or standardised designs. The truth is that there is little impact on the “looks” of the project. Think about the process of choosing a car, there are many differing options and variations for the internal and external of the vehicle, yet the process is standardised to ensure the benefits mentioned are achieved. 

Will the simplification of a balcony or design adversely affect other products? Not normally. Often the two are linked. A complex façade for example increases the complexity of balcony design on fire barrier application etc. Simplification and standardisation of one product or system lead to cost reduction benefits over the whole project. 

In summary 

Although the benefits of simplified design exceed these five, we hope this gives you an example of how simplification in design can increase project savings for all stakeholders in the design, manufacture and delivery.  

Early collaboration with the supply chain can help these benefits become more likely and avoid the need to standardise and adjust envelope design after it is significantly progressed. Earlier the engagement, the bigger the potential cost avoidance.