The Methods And Techniques Used In Collecting Data Construction Essay

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

The methods and techniques used in the collection and analysis phase of the data are discussed in the chapter. It is stated by Haralambos and Holborn (2004) that 'any academic subject requires a methodology to reach its conclusions. It must have ways of producing and analysing data so that theories can be tested, accepted or rejected''. So, in order that the data collected is specific to the hypothesis, an approach will be taken that is methodical and allows it to be analysed thoroughly.

2.2 Methodological philosophy

A research strategy has to first be developed in order that appropriate and effective research can be undertaken. This strategy is defined by Naoum (1998) as 'the way in which the research objectives can be questioned' and can be broken down into types, 'quantitative research' and 'qualitative research. Where quantative research is 'objective' in nature, whilst qualitative research is 'subjective'. Deciding on which type of research to follow depends on the purpose of the study and the type / availability of the information that is required (Naoum, 1998).

Quantitative research is an inquiry into a social or human problem and is carried out by 'testing a hypothesis or a theory composed of variables, measured with numbers, an analysed with statistical procedures, in order to determine whether the hypothesis or the theory hold true' (Creswell., 1994). That said, due to the specific nature of the research project, quantitative research would not generate the data required to fulfil the project aims and objectives previously stated and so a qualitative approach will be taken.

This form of qualitative research can be classified under both 'exploratory' and 'attitudinal' (Naoum, 1998). Exploratory research us undertaken when there is a limited amount of available knowledge on the subject area and its purpose is combined with a need for a clear and precise statement, which I have in the form of a hypothesis. There are three forms of purpose, all which are interrelated; diagnosing a situation, screening alternatives and to discover new ideas (Zikmund, 1997 cited in Naoum, 1998). In terms of this research project, the strategy adopted for exploratory research will be in the form of semi- structured interviews and forums.

The other part of qualitative research is that of attitudinal research which is used to 'subjectively' evaluate the 'opinion', 'view' or the 'perception' of a person towards a particular object. This 'object' can be referred to as an 'attribute', a 'variable', a 'factor' or a 'question' (Naoum, 1998) and so attitudinal research strategy will be taken in the form of a case study.

2.3 Literature Review

2.3.1 Source Identification

When commencing the literature review process, it is necessary to first identify the sources of appropriate literature available and there are three general types; primary sources, secondary sources and reference guides. All have information that I can include within my review. Academic research journals

Referred journals publish original work, whilst technical papers publish original research work and usually report innovative developments in the field of Built-Environment such as architecture, town planning, engineering, construction and management (Naoum, 1998). As the growth of refurbishment work is relatively recent, this particular information source is valuable since it tends to discuss recent developments in Construction and Economics. Referred conferences

The term 'conference' also applies to symposiums and congresses, with the main aim being similar to that of academic journals, in that they discuss current developments in a field of study. The majority of international conferences papers are based on 'primary' research and are accepted for publication after they have been referred by at least two members of the paper review committee, so the quality can be as good as referred journal articles (Naoum, 1998).

ARCOM (Associated of Research in Construction Management) was of particular interest, for example, because although not directly, it offered a useful insight into how refurbishment projects were managed and so highlighted a number of problems through published papers. Dissertation and theses

Past dissertations and theses provide an understanding of what is to be included within the content of the work, together with the expected standard, writing style and methodology. When the dissertations are on a similar subject area, the references and bibliography can provide a useful starting point.

The previous dissertations which I consulted for research were produced by Korcz (2010) and Warren (2010) which provided a good source of reference information available and a useful example in terms of structure. Technical reports and occasional papers

According to Howard and Sharp (1993) technical reports and occasional papers can be of great use because they are comprehensive and often publish up-to-date information. A small number of these reports / papers were found to be published by RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors). Government publications

Government publications are one of the largest and most important sources of information and can be classified into government administration records and research records for specialists. Searching for these publications can be a complex process due to the sheer volume of information under the category of government documents, but references to them within other sources can be of help in the search process (Naoum, 1998).

2.3.2 Secondary literature sources

Secondary literature sources are those that cite from primary sources such as textbooks and newspaper articles (Naoum, 1998) and although the primary sources provide a good range of reliable information, the secondary literature allows a greater understanding into what is involved when refurbishing a grade one listed building. Textbooks

Relevant textbooks on the subject area were identified by using the Loughborough University OPAC library catalogue, but although they proved to be beneficial in obtaining a broad knowledge of the subject area, more often than not the information was not specific to the research topic in detail. However, a number of textbooks such as (Markus, 1979;Douglas, 2004 and Griffin, 1992) were a valuable source of background information in the general topic of refurbishment whilst books such as (Naoum, 1998) were used as guidelines for the design and execution of the research project as a whole.

One of the main drawbacks of using textbooks as a source of information is the time period required for the book to be published, which during this time a number of elements such as statistics may well be out of date. This is summarised by Naoum (1998); 'one significant difference between books and journals is that research work published in a journal is comparatively more recent'. Trade magazines and industry press releases

Within the construction industry, there are a number of recognised magazines and professional bodies which produce articles, often summarising research or providing views on a subject which may be of relevance to this research project. These magazines include Contract Journal, Building Magazine and Architects Journal, and all three had articles into listed refurbishment projects from around the country. In contrast to textbooks, these articles require little publication time and so any relevant information is more current. When studying such sources however, a degree of caution needs to be taken as they are usually un-referenced and so may easily distort or exaggerate claims (Naoum, 1998). Reference guides

Reference guides can be a useful source of information when it comes to introducing or defining the basic information of a particular subject area, for example dictionaries, glossaries, encyclopaedia and handbooks. Internet websites

The internet makes a vast contribution to the research phase of the project, used to search databases, such as to search the general topic area for research papers, reports and articles. General information on the topic areas of refurbishment and listed building was also found on which is a surveying information site run by the RICS.

In addition, Metalib, the Loughborough University Library online database, was used to search databases for articles and reports associated with the research topic. Emerald (, Informaworld ( and ARCOM ( being particularly useful sources of information providing a number of research articles to the subject area. The benefits of internet websites are similar to trade magazines in that the relevant information is likely to be more current due to the nature of the shorter time period required for website publication, although the same drawbacks are also associated with the majority of the works being un-referenced and therefore perhaps unreliable.

-Limitations of Sources

-Case Study - Kings Cross

Literature Review

Refurbishment within Construction

Defining refurbishment

The economic lifespan of a building is not fixed and over the lifespan of a building, both the fabric and structural aspects of a building will deteriorate, which results in a decline of investment returns on capital. This can be slowed by 'routine maintenance programmes' such as repair and replacement (Mansfield, 2002) which are not part of refurbishment itself, unlike more major works such as renovations, alterations and extensions (Quah, 1988), (Ali et al, 2008). This is because refurbishment or redevelopment, are options which are taken towards the end of the building's lifespan, when the point at which maintenance cannot provide an adequate solution to combat the deteriation of the building. Refurbishment may provide a cost effective solution by extending the beneficial use of the building in question (Markus, 1979), providing that its present economic life is over or drawing to a close and that better and longer life is a real possibility (Bone, 1987).

When defining refurbishment as a physical process, the problem is then defining the boundaries between the processes in the building lifecycle, for example between repair, replacement and renewal. In an attempt to clarify this, it is best to consider that the lifecycle usually draws to a close when these 'routine maintenance programmes' such as repairs become increasingly more expensive. There is, however, no conventional model used in any urban economics textbooks that provide a guide as to what exactly this may be (Mansfield. 2002).

A theory was developed (Wong and Norman 1994) of the optimal timing of refurbishment, but this was justified on numerical simulation only (Chau et al, 2003). So, probably the best explanation of when this time will come about is that, either it is initiated by substantial damage which has occurred to the physical structure, the building becomes deemed to be of historical value, or that the refurbishment work may be planned in advance for a certain time according to the estimated rate of deteriation (Aikivuori, 1996).

Further complications to defining the boundaries in the building lifecycle are brought about when considering the differing elements included in the view of a homeowner in contrast to that of a main contractor. For a homeowner, there is a belief that refurbishment encompasses everything from changing a light bulb to repairing the roof, whilst the contractor's view is that works on the scale of gutting and completely reconstructing the interior would only be included (Kirby, 1979). Both in summary are an investment designed to halt the capital depreciation of a structure (Bagby. 1973), although these broad definitions fail to incorporate the temporal element, as refurbishment opportunities will have different time horizons and separate cost / value threshold points (Mansfield, 2002).

It is very difficult to achieve an exact definition for the term 'refurbishment' as it is a term which is used so widely in the current day, illustrated by how each copy of academic literature defines it in a slightly different way. However, even considering that it may change with the financial size of the project (Reyers and Mansfield, 2001), one of the better definitions for refurbishment work, in a building contractors sense (and one that best summarises many others) would be ''Work which involves the structural alteration of buildings, the substantial replacement of main services or finishes and / or the improvement of floor space and also any associated redecoration and repair work. Rebuilding behind the facade and other new building works are excluded '' (Hardcastle et al, 1997).

The growth of refurbishment in the U.K

Due to the ever increasing number of aged buildings, mixed with a continual decrease in the amount of vacant land to develop (Ali, 2008), the U.K construction industry in 1970 had £1,109million or 22.46% accounted for by the repair and maintenance (R&M) sector, which refurbishment work was classified under. It is assumed that refurbishing a building enhances the market value of the aged property, as it restores and can even improve the physical and economic conditions (Chau et al, 2003). This view is seemingly widespread, as by 1990, the figure for the R&M sector within the construction industry had risen further to £18,743million or 42.88% and by 1994 had grown to command 49% (Egbu. 1997).

There are two main factors influencing the rapid increase in the need for refurbishing buildings, the first and most obvious reason being the deteriation of the building itself. Deterioration is regarded as being the result of processes such as damp, dry rot and subsidence in the structure (Addleson and Rice, 1991), which all buildings are subject to (Douglas, 2004). Damp causes condensation, dry rot leads to bio-decay and subsidence results in movement, whilst general exposure to the environment causes carbonation and corrosion of reinforcement bars. These are problems individually, but they can also develop the effects of others. For example, cracks in the wall of the exterior facade can lead to the occurrence of dampness within the interior of the building (Hollis and Gibson, 2004).

Obsolescence is the process in which an asset goes out of use, indicating that perhaps the objects and operations involved are becoming out-of-date or old-fashioned (Douglas, 2004). The building may be perfectly habitable, but a refurbishment may be enforced due to a change in technology, social, image, legal restrictions or environmental factors (Flanagan et al. 1989). Buildings considered out-of-date or old-fashioned may even be as recent as the 1960's or 70's. With the rapid developments in technology, many are becoming obsolete much more quickly, as they cannot accommodate the latest electronic systems which require a sensitive and specific design and layout (Ali et al, 2008).

Business organisations strive to provide better equipment, quality workspace for their staff and a modern appearance to the building to enhance their position city (Watkins, 1996), and refurbishment is a way in which this can be carried out. This is only going to increase in the future, especially with the increasing complexity of works and the speed of information that is required by clients and professionals alike (Egbu, 1997).

A recent example of refurbishment being enforced upon a building not through technological advances, but the need for a change in image is that of Birmingham's Rotunda. The building is a 21-storey drum, so bold and brash that it dominates the city centre. With the landmark being completed back in 1965, the site was due for attention. The grade two listing of the building meant refurbishment was the only option available, at a cost of £21million, which included radical changes to the internal layouts and completely new cladding, making the opaque bands and spandrel panel narrower and the glazed area wider. The aluminium window mullions, which had grown dark with corrosion, were also replaced with bright anodised aluminium. Dividing the glazing into rectangles. Advances in technology of a different kind were of use when it came to the interior layouts, as previously a large area of floor space has been taken up by a cylindrical access and service core. Instead, the architect broke through door openings into the core's outer casing of structural reinforced concrete to create openings straight into the 14 flats on each floor, which could not have been done without Kevlar carbon-fibre reinforcement to the structural concrete. As the project architect stated 'it's taken us 40 years to get back to the original concept and it's given the building a second lease of life ', so modern heritage has been saved by the use of modern technology (Spring, 2008).

General problems which arise

Refurbishment work is a highly specialised area of activity and such projects contain a greater number of economic and technical risks than new-builds (Reyers and Mansfield, 2001). They are therefore perceived overall as being significantly more risky (Boothroyd and Emmett, 1996). Work cannot often be accurately predicted in terms of specification, duration or cost, due to a number of factors which largely impact at the feasibility and design stages.

Firstly, there is the dependence upon specialist sub-contractors and whether they are available at the particular time of the contract, as this is not guaranteed. Due to the varying range of expertise from the sub-contractor, to the main-contractor, to the client, the risk of miscommunication is increased and with the involvement of external bodies, this is especially so. The latter may impose mandatory requirements or major restrictions upon the construction programme, usually at great expense, especially as there is a greater use of temporary works such as scaffolding, which will generally be on hire. This leads to even more pressure from health and safety regulations for refurbishment work than would be expected for a new-build projects (Reyers and Mansfield, 2001). Finally, in terms of design, there are a number of alternative solutions that have to be considered, as the use of some materials / components will be restricted. External Bodies may require these to be authentic for the original structure (with possible limited availability or prohibitive cost), or because there are associated risk implications with the materials / components detailed in the specification (Raftery, 1994).

If these particular issues do affect the feasibility and design stages, then the construction phase may commence with incomplete design information, and so more assumptions are made (Reyers and Mansfield, 2001), making the timescale and more importantly the cost, difficult to predict. This uncertainty made the £22million refurbishment of the Brighton Dome, a grade one listed concert hall, a disrupted one, with structural problems postponing the opening date by six months. The last refurbishment was as far back a 1935 and the aged materials, the heritage restrictions, meant complications with the work involving the supporting timber ring beam of the roof. A series of temporary steel towers had to be constructed within the limited space of the concert hall in order to help with the process. The resulting delays are believed to have increased the cost of the project by around 105 but according to the project director Richard Besant ' were no different to those you would encounter refurbishing any building of this age' (

Listed status protecting the history of the building

The definition of 'being listed'

Under section 5 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971, a list of buildings is complied that are of special architectural or historical interest, in order that they can be protected from demolition or insensitive alteration (Highfield, 1987). This list includes other like buildings and is prepared by the Secretary of State for the Environment. The term 'building' applies to any structure or erection within the building and any object fixed to it or forming part of the cartilage, ensuring that the setting of the listed property is preserved. Items which are excluded from the listing are any plant or machinery within the building and freestanding buildings, structures or objects erected since 1st July 1948, such as statutes (Slater, 1989).

Once the building is included in this list, then it is an offence under Section 55 of the Act to carry out any works that involve complete or partial demolition or any alteration or extension that compromises the building's character. This is unless consent has been obtained from the local planning authority (Highfield, 1987), although there is no right to objection against the listing or any other form of appeal. However, the Department of the Environment may consider requests to remove the building from this statutory list if new evidence can be produced which shows the building concerned does not have the historic interest ascribes to it (Slater, 1989).

Degrees of listing

Listed buildings are classified into grades to show their relative importance and details of a buildings grade can be obtained from either the listing citation or the planning authority. In June 2005, there were 376,620 listed building entries in the online database with most graded into three categories. A further 626 properties, such as churches in older lists still, are graded A, B and C which amounts to Grades One and Two.

In1992 a survey by English Heritage to identify which buildings were at risk, finding that 7.35 of the total listed buildings were at risk and a further 14.65 were vulnerable (Kenny, 2006). The term, 'Building at Risk' has been used for almost 30 years with its proper definition being 'historic buildings at risk through neglect and decay' (English Heritage, 1998). By discovering which buildings are at risk of falling into disrepair, appropriate action can be taken. Through refurbishment, buildings can be persevered and many underused historic buildings can be brought back into use (Kenny, 2006).

Restrictions imposed by listed status

The consent that is required from the local planning authority when any refurbishment work is carried out covers any activity which may affect the character of the listed building, and can even include such works as painting or repainting of the internal wall (Slater, 1989). The process of refurbishment will inevitably involve certain amounts of demolition depending upon the listing of the building, and the need for consent revolves around whether the item, such as a staircase, is a fixture of the building and thus part of the original design. The need to prepare a case for obtaining Listed Building Consent therefore needs careful consideration, since consent concerning demolition has a greater number of restrictions (Pickard, 2007).

When considering whether or not to grant this consent, the local planning authority will take into account the desirability of preserving the building within its surroundings and whether the new features will harmonise with the existing setting. The Secretary of State for the Environment must be notified of any proposals that require consent, or involve the demolition (and alteration) of grade one or two listed building, or for 'works of demolition' to grade two listed buildings (Pickard, 2007). This is on top of any necessary planning permission that may be required for the works. Proceeding without the two, or failing to comply with the regulations of either, will be deemed unauthorised works and an offence punishable on conviction by imprisonment or a substantial fine. In addition to this, the local authority also has the power to serve a listed building enforcement notice, which would require the building to be returned to it's former condition, or if this is no longer possible, work would be needed to be carried out in order to alleviate the effect of the unauthorised works (Slater. 1989).

The commercial problems which arise between the contractor and client as a result of the refurbishment being grade one listed

Main problems

Primarily, buildings decay through a lack of use, often due to their original purpose ceasing when the cost of repair becomes considerably higher than the market value of the repaired building, due to the listed nature of the property Kenny, 2006). Once a source of investment is found, the refurbishment contractor is faced with the task of matching modern day materials and techniques with the old skills and crafts used when the building was first constructed.

The exceptional interest of grade one listed properties, mean they possess both interior and exterior features worthy of retention (Highfield, 1987). This provides a whole host of technical difficulties (Evamy, 1988), a number of which were encountered when refurbishing the Western Range at Kings Cross St.Pancreas. Still looking for a journal relating to this.

The entry of larger contractors into the refurbishment market due to its relatively recent growth will no doubt affect the competition to not only win the work in the first place but also to obtain a skilled labour force for the refurbishment work (Egbu, 1997). This is particularly the case regarding sites of high architectural and historic value, such as listed buildings, as noted by (Pickard, 1983) where his organisation 'brought out of retirement a number of octogenarians because they were the only men capable of executing fine plasterwork and wood carving'.

The financial implications for the contractor

It is widely accepted in the industry that conservation projects are less predictable in terms of out-turn cost than new build scheme of the same value. The level of contingency allocation for conservation projects is therefore far greater, to reflect this low level of certainty in terms of cost. As these allocations are not associated with such work items as stone work and roof slating for example, which would normally be dealt with under provisional sums, the specialist expertise and experience of the sub-contractors does not necessarily off-set all of the complexities surrounding the cost risk. A greater allowance should then in theory influence the level of certainty or predictability of the out-turn cost, as there is less likelihood of the project overspending as the extent of spending is limited. However, this is not always the case. In practice, these contingencies are limited due to client pressure to reduce cost, and disclosing information about these allocations in the tendering stage only encourages claims for additional payments. There is also the unpredictability depending on the project size, as despite the fact that larger schemes have more work components, the individual elements of risk may compensate and reduce the overall risk exposure. This can work vice versa for smaller scale projects, where fewer components of risk each have a more significant effect on the outcome cost (Reyers and Mansfield, 2001).