Improving Certainty in Construction: The Need for International Standards

Federation of Scientific & Technical Associations (FAST)
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
IICEC 2014 - IX World Congress - Re-Engineering Total Cost Management, 2014, pp. 1 - 11 (11)
Issue Date:
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Purpose: Uncertainty is a major drag on investment in construction and infrastructure. In turn, uncertainty is often caused by a lack of comparable, consistent and collaborative standards. The paper will explore the vision of how International Construction Measurement Standards (ICMS) could appropriately connect with, and be a next step, of International Property Measurement Standards (IPMS) (a current, ongoing project). ICMS would involve the collaborative development and implementation of internationally agreed and recognized measurement standards for the construction and infrastructure sectors. Design and Methodology: A review of economic literature, applied to how standards improve efficiency and decision-making, is undertaken. Since global accounting standards follow this principle, it is then shown how this can be applied to the measurement of floor areas and hence property valuation (a substantial sub-set of the now accepted International Financial Reporting Standards). In turn, it is shown how the same principles can be applied to the measurement of construction, with the attendant improvement in efficiency and certainty that this will bring, culminating in examples of areas where the standards could be developed with collaborating and like-minded, expert, bodies. Findings: Currently, there is a lack of measurement standards relevant to the construction industry at a global level. This lack of measurement standards means that construction projects, their inherent works elements and the resultant assets are incomparable from one geographical market to another. In addition, robust global benchmarks for cost, time, quality, risk, sustainability and technology are not available. The IPMS coalition now constitutes over 40 organizations and is functioning productively and effectively. It would be intended to extend this concept and form a separate coalition to represent key, global construction bodies. Value and practical implications: Adopt a “top down, bottom up” approach to develop a set of international, principle-based, measurement standards, which will cascade through the international markets (top down) to enable accurate and efficient benchmarking and comparison of construction performance worldwide. The international measurement standard principles should integrate with detailed measurement standards in accordance with local market jurisdictions to ensure the standards are adopted by practitioners (bottom up). The standards should be developed in consultation with expert, international practitioners, bodies, and panels, subject to international consultation and stakeholder review.
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