Solving problems in construction projects before they happen

Pyry Haahtela, Chief Operating Officer at Haahtela TVD sat down with Sarah Sipilä to talk about the common challenges in construction management and how Haahtela’s TVD simulation can be used to solve those in advance.

Let’s imagine

We have a piece of land and we have decided to build a building with a shop or office downstairs and appartements above. There is a multitude of things that need to be decided and all those decisions have impact in the building when it is finished. Most of the time there is very little information to rely on, at best we can benchmark other projects or statistics, but no two projects are ever the same. How can you know the consequences of your decisions? How can you really know what you are doing?

Complexities build up

Haahtela has researched construction and real estate economics for 40 years now and decade ago they started developing a simulation model to help predict the results of different choices at an early stage of a construction project. Haahtela clarifies the complexity of the decision making:

In any project, we make huge decisions already before the design starts. In pre-design choices, you mainly rely on information collected from other projects, but construction projects are quite individual, so it is hard to compare two projects. Even if everything else is identical, no two building sites are the same.

Of course, there are some phases in the construction project that can be done similarly, but the fact remains that in every project we don’t’ really know what is going to happen in the very early stage before the design is complete. This uncertainty repeats itself at every stage: early design concepts usually focus on business needs; architectural plans don’t include structural or HVAC plans and final plans for construction take a lot of time before they are ready. In the end, all these plans are needed to make cost and life cycle evaluations.

Another increasingly crucial challenge is setting and achieving carbon targets: How can we make the best possible decisions to reach our carbon targets? The choices are made at the design phase, and we need to be able to trust them to give us the results we want.  Once the project is well on the way, there are very limited possibilities for corrections.

Enter simulation

Decision makers in any construction project need information about the consequences of their decisions. Simulation is already used in other industries to predict the outcomes of different scenarios. We need to simulate the design and construction solutions before making decisions. Simulate different possibilities, compare them, and then decide, based on facts and not just educated guesses.

Simulate the functions of your future building, simulate the spaces inside. Know what your carbon footprint is going to be by simulating construction materials, methods and structures. Simulate the costs or any of your key performance indicators. Simulation offers a very transparent set of data to base all these decisions on.

Common language

Simulation also brings one unexpected advantage to a construction project. Haahtela describes it as a tool for common language for everyone involved in the project.

“All the experts in a project are just that: experts in their own field. My communication is based on the functions of the building, designers think about spaces or structures, contractors are all about work and materials. We all use a very different kind of language; we pay attention to and care about different aspects of the project. Simulation brings it all together. It helps experts to work together from the very beginning of the project.”