Standardisation of specification driven buildings with serial and repeat order designs

Government policy-makers are continuing to affirm the need for greater economies through standardisation. The benefits of standardisation seem straightforward: repeated designs offering economies through rationalisation and greater use of preassembled manufactured components as a result of a closer engagement with supply chains. However, a closer investigation of standardisation shows it to be more complex; individual client needs, unique site conditions, planning legislation, late contractor engagement, inadequate knowledge and intermittent manufacturer supply are some of the factors that conspire to limit the benefits of standardisation. This research, as part of an Engineering Doctorate study, examines repeat- and serial-order standardised buildings through multiple case studies where the reasons for their adoption are explored from various stakeholder perspectives. It tests existing theories from literature on standardisation in design and construction efficiency, with an emphasis on specification driven ‘non-iconic’ buildings. With one-off projects the benefits of standardisation are expected to be limited to efficiencies within a project, and there may be limited engagement with a supply-chain. On multiple projects, with dimensionally standard spaces, even in multi-stage tender situations, standardisation is also limited and clients are not strongly motivated to engage with manufacturing. However, there are other projects where clients, designers and contractors have taken an ‘enlightened self-interest’ to collaborate, particularly for repeat order projects, and this leads to an optimised process between the design team, the contractor and their supply chains. These latter projects have better defined briefs and benefit from successive refinements of more linear rationalised design processes with increased use of standardisation and preassembly, particularly for the more dimensionally standard areas of the buildings.