Join Jim Rogers for an in-depth discussion in this video Breaking the industry down, part of Construction Management Foundations.
- Now remember, construction and the construction industry really includes the building of all fixed facilities and structures on the planet. So, let's break that down a little. And let's take a look at the different types of construction that exist. So we can begin to categorize things and look at the roles that are played by somebody that has this title of construction manager. Now I could spend hours breaking this all down and listening all of the categories and construction types. But for the purposes of this course, let's break the industry down into two different types of construction.
Vertical and horizontal. So, what I mean by this is that when I say vertical construction, I'm generally talking about buildings and when I say horizontal construction, I'm generally talking about things like roads and infrastructure. Now these are very broad categories, I know. But they'll suit our purposes here for this course. So let's start with vertical construction. And let's take a look at some examples. Again, this is a broad category and it includes buildings, homes, offices, hotels, schools, hospitals.
Anything that starts on the ground and gets built up. And even when we look at these examples, that I just listed here, there can be some substantial differences in the types and complexity of these projects. And the people involved and their designing constructions. So for example, what I mean by that, is if I use the term residential construction, when I'm talking to somebody here in my local community, they're going to equate this to mean the construction of small single family residential structures. But if I use that same term while I'm talking to a colleague in New York or Singapore or Dubai, they're going to be much more likely to envision the construction of high rise, multi family residential towers.
So again, to keep it simple and make sure we're all on the same page as we move forward, I'll stick with the term vertical construction to mean all of these different types of buildings. Now conversely, when I use the term horizontal construction, I'm generally talking about the building of infrastructure. Like roads, bridges, sewers, waterlines. Anything that gets built out horizontally or along the ground instead of going up. now some other terms that you'll hear from different people in the industry to describe this type of construction, could include things like heavy civil construction or transportation or public works construction.
But again, the difficulty here is that if I use the term for instance, heavy civil construction, some people in the industry are going to equate that to believe that I'm meaning the building of roads and bridges. And others are going to assume that I'm talking about the construction of dams, or water treatment facilities. So again, like I said, we'll stick with our terms here, of horizontal and vertical construction. All right, now as I've thrown out some of these terms and examples, no doubt that many of you are probably thinking that most projects include both horizontal and vertical construction and you'd be correct.
I can't very well build something like a large hospital campus with patient towers and parking structures. Without first doing the site work like the grading, the installation of utility lines, the construction of roads and parking lots. So, yes. Most projects do include examples of both horizontal and vertical construction. And depending on the size or the complexity of the overall project, there may even be separate general contractors overseeing each one of these different types of construction.
So let me give you an example. At one point in my life, I ran what we referred to as a general engineering contractor. We specialized in running horizontal construction projects. And these were generally street and utility projects where the project owner, who was my client, was the municipality or government agency. However, we did one project with a private owner and it consisted of demolition of existing buildings spread out over a 40 acre site. And then replacing them with a new shopping center. Now, because there's such a large volume of horizontal construction work on this project, the property owner hired us as the general contractor to manage and complete all of that horizontal construction and we left them with new utilities, parking lots and pads that were ready to build on.
Then they hired another general contractor who came in and specialized in the shopping center construction. And they oversaw all of the vertical construction activity, like building the actual stores and shops. Now, on a similar project being built on a smaller piece of property, the scope of the site work is probably much less and both the horizontal and vertical construction might be managed by just one single contractor. So, that brings us to another question. Why do some construction companies who I'm going to collectively begin to refer to as contractors.
Why do they specialize in different types of work? Or different types of projects? So, I think to answer that, we need to first recognize, how construction differs from something like manufacturing. So, let's talk about that. In manufacturing, I do something like build a car at a factory. I build many of the same exact type of car. I do it over and over again in the same facility. In construction though, I get instructions to go build a new structure in a new location.
I'm going to go there, I'm going to build it once, then I'm going to leave and I'm going to go build something else and I'm going to do it in another location. So. Even if I'm going to build the same building over and over again, something like a bank or a chain of restaurants. The set of conditions that I'm presented with at each site, is still always going to be unique. The actual ground conditions can change from one site to the next. The utilities services and connections might be different. Building codes are going to change from one location to the next, along with things like zoning requirements that are going to dictate the overall outward look and appearance of the building.
Even though that building's ultimate function remains unchanged. So if we add to this, the challenge is presented by constantly changing the geographic location of your operations. You can start to see how construction really is different from virtually all other industries. Now, the result is that we have all types of specialization. Some contractors specialize in construction in one geographical region. Some specialize in a particular industry, like healthcare or schools.
And on the very large and very complex side of the industry, some companies will specialize in the overall management of things like diverse, longterm construction projects. Power plants or refineries. But, regardless of the size or complexity of the project, believe it or not, there is a common flow of events that takes place, that's required to get the project from an idea, to a reality. So, before we get to far ahead of ourselves with that building process.
Let's actually back up a little bit and take a look at how the construction process starts and then how it progresses through this flow of events that's going to encompass our entire process.
Whether you're a construction industry veteran looking to switch roles or a brand new construction manager trying to get your bearings, this course provides you with meaningful insights into this vital, evolving industry and your role in it. Instructor Jim Rogers explains how integrated project delivery methods work, how technology is shaking up old processes, and how lean productivity methods are being used at construction sites. Throughout the course, you'll get industry knowledge from Jim, as well as other experienced construction professionals.
- Modern construction industry overview
- The construction team
- Reviewing the many roles of the construction manager
- A day in the life of a construction manager
- Understanding how the industry is organized
- Working with alternative project delivery methods
- Understanding the role of technology in construction