Application and effects of emerging technologies on variation minimisation in the UK construction projects

  • Bolanle Ireti Noruwa

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Delivering construction projects on time and budget is a challenge that has always plagued the construction industry in the UK. Variation is a major root cause of project cost and time overrun and one of the most controversial issues in construction contracts. The industry is, however, on the cusp of a veritable technological revolution. Modernising the industry through the implementation of appropriate emerging technologies minimised variations along with other benefits. Hence, the UK government is committed to the Construction 2025 strategy; to achieve a 33% reduction in the initial cost of construction works and 50% reduction in the overall project time.

    This research aims to investigate the application and effects of emerging technologies on variation minimisation in UK construction projects. The study adopted a mixed methods approach comprising literature review, semi-structured interviews, close ended survey, open-ended survey and a framework development. Participants were limited to those that have practically implemented some emerging technologies on their construction projects. Agency theory was used as a theoretical lens to address problems associated with principal-agent relationships that exist in construction contracts.

    The findings of this study addressed some reasons given in literature to justify the inevitability of variations on construction projects. Technologies enabled risks associated with construction project complexity, health and safety, communication issues, buildability, team fragmentation and design errors to be identified and mitigated early. Key findings revealed that BIM played a vital role in minimising variations; however, the combined effects of other emerging technologies alongside BIM are indispensable. Stakeholders can visualise a digital twin of their proposed structure and make desirable changes before actual construction activities. Implementation of appropriate technologies minimised variations on construction projects of participants. Research findings resulted in the development of a framework that suggests useful emerging technologies to implement in minimising potential variations.

    Barriers to adoption and implementation are surmountable. The present teething problems will extinct with further training, research and development. The construction industry in the UK is slowly advancing in its journey to modernisation. Findings of this research empirically contribute to the achievement of the commitment of the UK government to reduce construction cost and time. This research contributes to fewer studies and pioneering work that discussed variation minimisation from agency theory perspective. Findings also provide practitioners and researchers’ insight into how current practices may be improved; as well as areas where more research on variation minimisation is needed.
    Date of AwardNov 2020
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorAndrew Arewa (Supervisor)

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