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Construction Industry is one of the most booming industries in the

whole world. It is mainly an urban based one which is concerned with

preparation as well as construction of real estate properties. The repairing of

any existing building or the making of certain alterations in the same

building also comes under the Construction Industry


The construction industry accounts for around one-tenth of the

world’s gross domestic product, seven percent of employment, half of all

resource usage and up to forty percent of energy consumption. The

construction industry is also a key indicator and driver of economic activity

and wealth creation (http://www.economywatch.com/world-


Construction activity is an important contributor to GDP in most

industrialized countries and contributes significantly to global economic

growth (Walsh and Sawhney, 2002). Its contribution to GDP in the U.S in

1996 was around 10.7%, while in Australia, it is in the region of 6.3%

(Crose et al. 1991).

Over the last decade, several changes have occurred in Nigeria, which

have helped all sectors of the economy, especially the construction sector.

The construction industry has outgrown all other sectors of the Nigerian

economy with double digit growth rates in the last three years (2005 –

2008). Also, there are several opportunities in the industry especially in the

ICT, education, and sub-contracting sectors (Dantata, 2008). The Nigerian

construction industry continues to occupy an important position in the

nation’s economy even though it contributes less than the manufacturing or

other service industries, (Aibinu and Jagboro, 2002). The contribution of the

construction industry to national economic growth necessitates improved

efficiency in the industry by means of cost effectiveness and timeliness, and

would certainly contribute to cost savings for the country as a whole. It is

also common knowledge that the implementation of the construction project

in the industry is usually accompanied with time delay and cost increase as

well as owner dissatisfaction (Hafez, 2001). In Nigeria, the industry

contributes an average of 5% to the annual gross domestic product and

average of about one-third of the total fixed capital investment (Omole,

2000). Aibinu and Jagboro (2002) explain that though the construction

industry contributes less than manufacturing or other sectors of the

economy, the construction sector continues to occupy an important position

in the Nigerian economy. The fiscal projections for 2001 for instance show

that out of the N892 billion expenditure proposed, N480 billion representing

about 54% was earmarked for capital construction projects.

The construction industry is one of the most information dependent

industries (Tam, 1999) and heavily based upon traditional means of

communication such as face to face meetings, phone calls and the exchange

of drawings and associated paperwork or documents (Mohamed and

Stewart, 2003).

Communication can therefore be seen as the key factor in the overall

success of any construction project. Crucial to the running of any

construction project is the movement and transfer of project information

amongst the distinct professions all of whom have conflicting priorities and

differing objectives (Faniran et al, 2001). Construction projects are

assembled by gathering different professions and areas of expertise under

one “flag” (Wikforss, 2006). Typical of such assemblies is that each

professional group also bears with it a set of principles, rules, knowledge

domains and professional skills formulated in a certain manner. At the same

time as this helps make the profession strong and successful, it also explains

why they cannot cooperate with other professions particularly well.

Some of the fundamental components contributing to the construction

industry’s poor performance are its ineffective communication practices, its

organizational fragmentation and lack of integration between design and

production processes (Dainty et al, 2006). Successful communication

between stakeholders in the industry can be seen to be a major contributory

factor to project delivery as poor communication may lead to a delay in the

decision making process that may in no small way affect the successful

completion of such projects.


In enhancing project delivery, the construction industry has over the

years evolved from the traditional design/build and the design/bid/build

delivery systems to an Integrated Project Delivery System that requires

architects, contractors, clients and all stakeholders in the industry to take on

new roles and competencies. This made a change in culture necessary for the

professionals involved in the conception till project delivery.

The efficiency and effectiveness of the construction process strongly

depends on the quality of communication. Hoezen (2006) gave four reasons

why improvements in communication were needed.

 Improvement in the communication within the building team,

project teams and between project manager and contractors

could reduce failure.

 More open communication at all levels could lead to

innovations and better technical solutions.

 Communication improvements in early phases of projects

would positively influence the quality as perceived by all

stakeholders involved.

 Improved communication during the briefing might lead to

better decision making, for example less haste in moving to

solutions and better ways of looking at the requirements first.

Unlike other types of industries where the development and

manufacture of products can be standardized and tested before being

purchased, the nature of projects in the construction industry is extremely

diverse and every project is unique. Even where identical buildings are

under construction, site conditions in each will differ and introduce new

challenges while the long periods between the decision to invest and the

completion of works during construction projects lead to instability of

supply and demand and high sensitivity to economic fluctuations. Moreover,

it is a multi-party process where numerous specialist parties are involved

due to the diversity of skills required and thus maintaining teamwork

atmosphere and controlling potential conflicts is important (Wood, 2001).

In the course of this study some questions to be answered include;

a) Can lack of experience about construction work hinder

communication on site?

b) Can poor leadership cause poor communication?

c) How has poor communication practices affected project


d) What does research data tell us about the causes and

consequences of poor communication?

e) Will the introduction of seminars, workshop, posters and

handbills improve communication on site?


1.3.1 Aim

It is aimed at studying the effects of communication on project

delivery with a view to enhancing better communication for timely

completion of construction projects

1.2.1 Objectives

The aim is to be achieved through the following objectives;

i. Examination of communication systems in use in the

selected construction companies

ii. Determination of the contribution or influence of the

communication systems in use to project delivery in the

selected construction companies

iii. Based on (i)-(iii) above, recommendations will be made

that will enhance communication for effective project

delivery in the Nigerian construction industry.


Methodology defines the entire method adopted in this project work

as well as the procedure followed in realizing the objectives. It involves the

adequate description of the project and stressing on the inclusiveness of the

chosen area of study, the research tools and sampling techniques

necessitating the administration of questionnaire. The sample population is

twenty-eight construction companies out of which the sample size for the

study is twenty construction firms. The method to be adopted in this study is

the use of questionnaires which are to be distributed randomly to the twenty

construction firms. The types of data to be collected are questions that are

related to communication at different levels and stages of a project cycle.

The questionnaires are to be distributed through direct contact and to

be collected on an individual basis. The questionnaire will be prepared in

such a way that the options of the respondents will be required on the subject

of the dissertation and split into five sections. Section A will consist of fixed

response questions that will give information about the respondent and the

organization he belongs to. Sections B to E will have both fixed response

and open end questions based on the objectives of the study as well as

proffered solutions to aid in achieving the aim of the study. The respondents

are to tick any of the options which portrayed their own opinions. The open

end aspects of the questionnaire will give an insight into personal views of

the respondents based on their wealth of experience.

The analytical tools to be used are the descriptive statistical tools like

percentage, tables, pie charts and Relative Importance Index. Conclusions

shall be made from the analysis and recommendations on how to improve

communication. The Relative Importance Index (R.I.I.) is a statistical tool

used to determine the frequency of occurrence in data analysis of

questionnaires. The formula used is;

Relative Importance Index = af/AF

where a = value assigned variable i.e. 1 – 5

A = highest value assigned to variable

F = f = the frequency of occurrence.

Each section of the questionnaire will be analyzed using the Relative

Importance Index and the results of the analysis will be discussed


Each scale will represent the following ratings:

5 = very high 4 = high 3 = medium 2 = low 1 = very low


The study is intended to examine the effects of poor communication

on project delivery (from inception/design stage to completion) in the

construction industry in Ilorin, Kwara State. The study is carried out at the

operational level (skilled and unskilled craftsmen, artisans, and operators) of

medium sized construction companies within the Ilorin Township.




2.1.1 Overview of the Nigerian Construction Industry

In spite of the huge capital outlay, public utilities are unable to cope

with the demand of the increasing population of the country. Government’s

budgetary allocation no longer meet demands hence the involvement of the

private sector for the financing, development and operation of infrastructure

projects. This is becoming common practice globally to allow for dwindling

fiscal resources to be committed to other national development projects.

Capital outlays on infrastructure in the form of housing provisions and other

infrastructure facilities are central to growth and development. More so in

developing countries, such expenditures are necessary to create

advancement in the technology and by extension industrialization obtainable

in developed societies.

Infrastructure play critical but not independent role in stimulating and

sustaining economic growth. Kesside (1993)’s research on developed

countries support the fact that infrastructure capital has a significant and

positive effect on economic output. Further, she notes that developing

countries need infrastructure, and more importantly the services that stem

from their provision, so that they can achieve economic growth.

Unfortunately, developing countries have become associated with the stigma

of poorly managed infrastructure with resultant cost implications. First are

higher maintenance costs from many years of neglect; and then costs

associated with the provision of alternative (temporal) infrastructure

where there is complete inoperation of the facilities. Facility failures have

far reaching implications beyond this. For example the idle time of labour,

yet they still have to be remunerated; there is also the cost of lost production,

the associated goodwill and the revenue forfeited.

Study of sixty developing countries by Bazin (1996), found that half

the utilities in operation had very low rates of return and that several

incurred losses. In Nigeria, performance during the construction phase fall

short of expectations too. A critical appraisal of the performance of the

construction sector brings to question its ability to support infrastructure

development needs. Between 1996 and 2000, the building and the

construction sector of the economy contributed only 0.85% to the nation's

GDP at current basic prices; while between 2000 and 2004 the value fell to

0.78% (CBN Annual Reports 2006) whereas the relative contribution of the

finance and insurance sector was 1.23% and 1.17% during these periods

respectively. The wide margin between the expected contribution of the

construction industry and the actual contributions; are an indication that

something must be wrong somewhere even with our development efforts.

2.1.2 Reasons for Marginal Contribution of the Construction Industry

to Nigeria’s Economy

Two reasons can be given for the net marginal contribution of the

construction sector in Nigeria as earlier stated, to economic growth in the

last ten years. These are:

 The lack of initiatives by the captains of the construction industry to

seize the opportunities offered by the sector to become more

innovative and improve their capacity to deliver. This will in turn

contribute to overall economic growth.

 Poor financial base coupled with a poor technical capacity.

Accessibility to funds would be a good catalyst for the development

of the construction industry.

As indicated above, the diminished contribution of these sectors has a

knock-on effect on other sectors of the economy. Remedying the situation

would require reforms that cut across all the sectors. The current quest for

advancement in the energy and telecommunication sector backed by private

sector investment may be the break the construction industry needs to make

wide sweeping changes.


Communicating frequently is necessary throughout the life of any

project because all projects are executed by humans and they interact by way

of teams (Mehra, 2009). The best way to communicate in the teams is to

involve team members in all activities because Project manager along with

team members are responsible for managing communication on projects.

Communication may be carried out using symbols, signs, behaviour, speech,

writing or signals, as well as through project plans, project scope statement

and status reports. Mehra (2009) also noted that projects fail when

expectations are not aligned with results. Timely and effective

communication can bridge this gap to avoid surprises at the end.

Expectations, goals, and priorities of the project stakeholders should be well

documented and communicated to the stakeholders.

Communication consists of transmitting information from one person

to another. In fact, some scholars of communication take this as working

definition, and also as a means circumscribing the field of communication

theory. Their definitions are outlined below;

• Communication is a term used to refer to any dynamic, information-

sharing process. (Clevenger, 1959)

• Communication is the exchange of information, usually via a common

system of symbols (Dance F., 1970)

• Communication is the process of conveying information from a sender

to a receiver with the use of a medium in which the communicated

information is understood the same way by both sender and receiver

(Mehra, 2009).

With inference from the above definitions, communication can

defined as “the process of exchanging information related to the progress

and successful completion of a project through the sharing of knowledge and

experiences for the mutual benefit of the parties involved in ensuring timely

project delivery”.

2.2.1 Characteristics of Communication

Some of the characteristics of communication according to Mehra

(2009) are as follows;

i. Communication is a process – it is continuous, ongoing, and dynamic

ii. Communication requires a sender and a receiver

iii. Communication has information (message/content)

iv. Communication requires a medium (symbols, signs, behaviour,

speech, writing, or signals)

v. Communication requires shared understanding – all parties

understanding the same thing the same way

vi. Communication is transactional and irreversible

2.2.2 Methods of Communication

There are various ways and methods of communicating information in

the construction industry. Although a vast majority of information is

exchanged verbally and delegated, most data is exchanged in written format

either as hard copy or electronically. Even if information is exchanged

verbally such as through project meetings and instructions, this information

is well documented and stored for future reference. Scope of work and

details of construction are communicated by means of drawings, contract

documents, addenda and specifications (Maslej, 2006). Contracts are

commonly issued when one entity passes down work to another: for

example, when an owner hires a consultant or designer they form a

contractual relationship by means of signed contract. Same is true when a

consultant, on behalf of the owner, hires a general contractor to execute the

work designed by the consultant. The contractor may wish to sub-contract

some of his work to subcontractors in which case, again a contractual

relationship is formed. Unfortunately, miscommunication is a common

occurrence in construction when work is passed down from one entity to

another (Maslej, 2006).

For ease of classification, the forms and methods of communication in

the construction industry are outlined below (Mehra, 2009);

1) Formal Written – This takes the form of Project Plan, Project charter,

Specifications, Reports, Metrics

2) Formal Verbal – Presentation and speeches fall under this category

3) Informal Written – Examples of informal written methods of

communication include memos, e-mail, notes, etc.

4) Informal verbal - Meetings, stakeholders and conversations are

categorized under informal verbal method.

5) Nonverbal Messages – These are conveyed through our facial

expressions as well as our postures and gestures and account for about

55% of what is perceived and understood by others.

6) Para-verbal Messages – These include the tone, pitch, and pacing of

our voice and account for about 38% of what is perceived and

understood by others.

Effective communication is a two-way process which involves active

listening and reflects the accountability of speaker and listener. It also

utilizes feedback to confirm understanding which makes it free of stress.

2.2.3 Communication Model

In communication, there is always a sender and a receiver (maybe

more than one in some cases). Both parties have their own experiences, their

perceptions, their ideas, etc; hence they may experience, perceive, and

interpret things differently. The same event will always be perceived a little

differently by each party. Mehra (2009) gave a simple communication

model as Figure 1 shows how the information travels from sender to

Medium of

Feedback through
appropriate medium

Figure 2.1: A Simple Communication Model (Mehra, 2009)

1. Sender – Is an information source, who initiates communication.

2. Encode – Information is encoded into a message. Sender should make

sure that he truly provides understandable information to another

project team member. This means that sender must attempt to take the

perspective and knowledge of the receiver into consideration and

create and present a message that he or she is likely to interprete in the

way intended.

3. Medium – Messages may be sent using traditional mail, email, phone

call, face-to-face or using gestures alone. Medium is the

communication method used to transmit the message.

4. Decode – Message is decoded to understand the information sent by

sender. Sender uses his knowledge and understanding of the subject

matter to decode this message, hence extra caution is required to

interpret the message in right context (sender’s context).

5. Receiver – The person to who the information is sent.

6. Feedback – Receiver sends a feedback to sender to acknowledge that

the information is received and understood. Sender may have to act

further to ensure that the receiver understood the message by eliciting

feedback that helps sender to assess whether receiver interpreted the

message as intended.

Sender may use symbols, signs, behaviour, speech, writing, or signals to

transfer the information in the message. The purpose is to ensure that both

parties understand the perspective (Mehra, 2009).

2.2.4 Communication Channels

Machinery needs to be put in place for further communication to take

place, either downward communication (from superior to sub-ordinate),

horizontal communication (between colleagues) or upward communication

(from sub-ordinates to superior).

Mehra (2009) stated that communication will always involve more than

one person. In the figure below, the number of communication channels

required to communicate with five other team members in a team of six is


Figure 2.2: Communication Channels (Mehra, 2009)

The formula to calculate the total number of communication channels is:

(n2- n)/2 or n (n-1)/2

where n = total number of team members.

2.2.5 Barriers to Communication

Mehra (2009) gave some examples of barriers to communication in the

construction industry as:

1. Physical – noise, distance, time, environment, physical medium

2. Cultural - ethnic, religious, and social differences

3. Perception - viewing what is said from your own mindset

4. Words - we assign a meaning to a word often because of culture,

experience, etc reasons which results in improper encoding of


5. Experience - lack of similar experience

6. Emotion - personal feelings at the moment or doing other things

besides listening

7. Linguistic - different languages or vocabulary

8. Non-verbal - non-word messages

9. Gestures - misunderstood gestures are a major barrier

10. Variations in language - accent, dialect

Any of the above barriers to communications can create interferences or

disturbances and impact the effectiveness of the communication




Good communications is one of the main prerequisites for the smooth

and profitable running of any organisation. This is particularly so in the

construction industry, as communication in the industry according to Shutt

(1992) is often hampered for the following reasons:

a) Lack of co-operation and early consultation between the various stages of

construction. i.e client’s conception stages, design stages, planning and

other legislative approvals, erection stage.

b) The increasing proportion of subcontract labour (if nominated) over

which the main contractor has no direct control.

c) The problem of the erection site being far from the specialist head office

functions often leads to instructions being issued by phone, rather than

more concise written instructions being given.

In the following pages, the areas of communication problems will be

considered under the following headings (Shutt, 1992);

1. Conception/Design stage

2. Approval by the planning authority

3. Design Team and the Building Team

4. Contractor’s Organisation

5. Between parties on site

2.3.1 Communication at Conception/Design Stage

At this stage, communication is between the client (owner) and the

consultants, and is a continuous process from inception to completion of the

project. The client’s statement of requirements which include information

such as the size of the building, nature of the building, funds available,

building function and time limitation of the project will be made available to

the consultants.

As stated earlier by Shutt (1992), it is the lack of early consultation

and co-operation that has hampered communication and subsequently timely

project delivery. The architect prepares a general outline of client

requirements after carrying out feasibility studies with the other consultants

and communicates it to the rest of the members of the design team for

collective action.

As soon as the client approval is obtained, the architect and engineer

start preparing the working drawings, schedule and specification and at the

same time seeking the opinion of the quantity surveyor who sees to the cost

implication of the project to see if the project design is still within the

approved budget.

2.3.2 Communication during Approval by the Planning Authority

The role of the construction industry in the society is to satisfy the

wants of the consumers in terms of construction projects, whether they are

houses, places of work, entertainment, or transportation routes (Shutt, 1992).

To this end, approval from the planning Authorities can be

considered at two levels.

1. Structure Plans

These look at the overall area in relation to its surroundings and lay down

policies within the areas of employment, transport, recreation, housing,

industry, population and education. These plans are not detailed, but tend

to be proposed statements of policy for the area with regard to the various

considerations (Shutt, 1992).

2. Local Plans

These are prepared to examine in detail the local area under construction,

and to prevent problems that might arise from complications due to conflicts

on planning applications. It would be foolish, for example, to proceed with a

planning application for a roadside extension to a client’s factory, if there is

a local plan proposing a road widening scheme in the future, which will

affect the factory.

All development plans are available for inspection at Local Authority

Planning offices to forestall problems with certain clauses in the Building

Regulations (Shutt, 1992).

2.3.3 Communication between Design Team and Building Team

On nearly every job, certain difficulties arise, usually practical

difficulties in construction to certain detailed drawing. These problems in

many cases could have been overcome, had there been consultation between

the architect and builder at an earlier stage. Shutt (1992) stated that builders

are seldom aware of many such problems until the job has progressed

considerably, because of the usual procedure of issuing detailed drawings

long after the project has started. This point alone raises communication

problems, in that the builder may have to order purpose-made components,

and the project could be delayed during their manufacture.

On the other hand, many builders cause a lot of delays. There are

many situations where it is obvious to the builder/site agent that he is going

to have to seek the architect’s advice, or ask for details about certain points,

but it is not mentioned until such a late stage that delay occurs.

2.3.4 Communication within Contractor’s Organisation

Within a building company, the type of communication system and

the speed with which it works are to a large extent a function of the size of

the organisation (Shutt, 1992). The smaller the company, the faster

information will be disseminated. With large companies, a communication

network has to be developed that ensure that the information necessary for

decision-making gets to where it may be wanted. This can sometimes lead to

overload “in” trays with the majority of the information being irrelevant to

the particular department.

2.3.5 Communication between Parties on Site

The construction site is the place where the efforts made by the

design team in visualizing the client’s requirements will be put into practice

and the client’s dream made a reality.

Generally, site meetings are the regular meetings held on site to

discuss the progress of the project to date, the difficulties and delays arising

from the project at hand. According to Shutt (1992), communication on site

between the parties can be greatly improved with the aid of site meetings

which could hold weekly. All the relevant parties like the architect, contract

manager, general foreman, clerk of works, main subcontractors, etc could be

in attendance. Other methods of communication on site include weekly

reports, which are a complete record summarizing daily happenings on site

for the week and recorded by the clerk of works.


Communication according to Maslej (2006) is said to be effective

within the working group in the construction industry only when the

transmitted ideas achieve their desired action or reaction, as the operations

involve the team effort of the client, quantity surveyor, architect, consulting

engineer, specialists and the contractor’s organization with the main

objective of getting things done through human beings.

Maslej (2006) noted that to better understand the concept of

communication in the construction industry, it is important to acknowledge

the roles, responsibilities and the authority of various participants on a

typical construction project and how information gets exchanged.

2.4.1 Roles of Participants in Construction Projects

The roles of participants in construction projects as stated by Sompura

and Viramgami (2005) are outlined below: Project Manager

 Conceptual Planning of the Project

 Overall administration of the Project.

 Bills and reconciliation of material.

 Minimize wastage of Construction Material.

 Liaison with Client / Consultants

 Coordination with architects and consultants.

 Motivating and managing site personnel as team leader.

 Planning day to day activities of Project.

 Timely completion of project within the given time frame and

maintaining quality

 Attending major site coordination meetings with client for

reviewing site progress and resolving pending problems for

various projects under execution

 Leadership, delegation, communication, interfacing and

presentation skills. Experience in handling multi-functional

management role is mandatory Structural Engineer

 Serve as the Senior Site Representative for all matters related to

construction quality assurance of structural works.

 Monitor the structural works for conformance with the

provisions of the contract documents and the procedures


 Liaise with local authorities and ministerial agencies having

jurisdiction over the project.

 Review contractor's structural change order proposals.

 Review contractors' claims related to structural works and

prepare recommendations for claims approval or rejection.

 Assist in negotiations with contractors regarding the value of

claims or changes in schedules.

 Review of structural drawings for projects designed by others

 Perform all other duties that may be requested by the Resident

Engineer Architect

 Furnishing the contractor with drawings and information and

certifying them for code compliance and safety.

 Nomination of sub-contractors and suppliers

 Suspension of the works

 Issue of variation orders altering extent, nature or quantity of

the works

 Carrying out feasibility studies together with other consultants Quantity Surveyor

 Sees to the cost implication of the project and ensures that the

project is still within the approved budget

 Prepares the Bill of Quantity for the project

 Recommends action to the client through a tender report for the

purpose of selecting the most suitable contractor

 Examines the Bill of Quantity and helps in deciding the best for

the purpose of the project

 Managing the tendering process

 Assessing capital and revenue expenditure over the whole life

of a facility

 Managing and analysing risk

 Giving advice on the avoidance and settlement of disputes.

 Valuing construction work for interim payments, valuing

change, assessing or compiling claims for loss and expense and

agreeing final accounts

 Negotiating with interested parties

 Control construction costs by accurate measurement of the

work required, the application of expert knowledge of costs and

prices of work, labour, materials and plant required, an

understanding of the implications of design decisions at an

early stage to ensure that good value is obtained for the money

to be expended.

 Advising clients on ways of procuring the project. Construction (Resident) Engineer

 Directs the affairs of a construction project

 Provides technical advice to all parties involved with the project

 Inspecting the site to ensure that the building which will be

erected can be accommodated by that area.

 Provides information to the pertinent parties and general public

to keep them informed and in the case that any issues arise

before, during and after the construction

2.4.2 Communication Structure in the Construction Industry

Although not all participants have a contractual relationship with each

other, they all must communicate effectively to make the project work.

Maslej (2006) noted that larger and more complex projects will often require

the involvement of additional parties such as structural engineers,

environmental officials and other consultants working for the owner. An

example of the communication structure of a residential project is given in

Fig 2.3 below;



Civil Architect Utility Authoriti

Builder Engineer Quantity
Consulta es
(Consultan Surveyor
(Consultant) t)

Prime Municipal Soils Utility

Contract Services Consulta Contracto
or Contracto
nt r

Surveyo Sub -
Sub -
Contractors rs Contractors

Sub - Supplie
Supplie Contractors


Figure 2.3: Parties involved in a Residential Construction Project.

Source: Maslej (2006); p5

Aside from the communication that takes place between businesses,

each entity will have to communicate a significant amount of information

internally, that is, within the company (Maslej, 2006). Figure 2.4 below

displays the communication that occurs within a construction firm.

Officer in

Estimati Schedulin Project

ng g Manager

Project Superintende
Engineer nt

Foreme Subcontractor
n s

Second –
Craftspeopl Foreme tier
e n Sub -


Figure 2.4: Contracting Firm’s Internal Communication Structure

Source: Maslej (2006); p6

It is reasonable to assume that each individual entity presented in

Figure 3 will have a similar internal communication breakdown structure as

presented above in Figure 4. It becomes clearly evident that the

communication process is complex in the construction industry considering

the large number of people and entities involved.

2.4.3 Causes of Poor Communication

Quite often, it has been stated that the major problem facing the

construction industry is that of ineffective communication (Latham, 1994;

DETR, 1998). Many atimes, poor communication has caused delays in the

delivery of projects. Extension of time will be necessary and the contractor

equally charges for the extended time provided the delay was not his fault.

Some of the causes of poor communication are listed below:

1. Lack of standardized Communication Methods

A significant portion of communication problems in the construction

industry is closely linked to lack of standardized communication methods.

Poor communication between companies is the root cause of risk in the

design and construction process. This often results in cost, schedule and

quality problems. The construction firms have strongly focused on

optimizing their own internal communication processes and controls while

the hand off of information between companies remains largely

unstructured. The lack of common vocabulary largely contributes to real

construction industry-wide process advancements from taking place. (Kenig,

2005, p.67) The construction industry requires standards if it hopes to

improve its major processes, particularly project delivery processes

2. Severity of the Problem and Brief History

The construction industry has been suffering from communication

difficulties for many years. Findings of a 1995 construction industry training

survey strongly indicate that new tools for communication are desperately

needed in the business and that poor communication has a strong detrimental

effect on productivity (Finding, 1998, p. 1110) Individuals surveyed for this

thesis similarly agree they witness problems in their line of work as a direct

result of poor communication practices. This concludes that exactly half of

those surveyed for this study recognize the communication problem in the

construction industry as being severe.

3. Construction work demand

Construction work demand has been on a constant rise for the past

decade as a direct result of the growing and changing economy. Increased

construction activity has formed a growing reliance on immigration to fill

the many labour shortages within the construction industry that begin to

exist (Finding, 1998, p. 1111).

4. Language Barrier

Language barriers, lack of proper training or no training at all contribute

to extreme conditions on the jobsite (Flory, 2001, pp. 37-38). Secondary

research strongly indicates that language barrier largely contributes to poor

communication in the construction industry and has a tremendous effect on

worker safety on the jobsite.

2.4.4 Effects of Poor Communication on Projects

Poor communication in the construction industry has a significant

detrimental effect on project quality, cost, schedule, and worker safety

(Maslej, 2006) Effect on Schedule

Construction schedules can be significantly delayed as a direct result of

poor communication. Miscommunicated information leads to work being

redone or corrected. In construction, work is organized so that minimal or no

time is wasted in the assembly process. To achieve this trades are scheduled

to work consecutively as a team. For example, in a housing project, a high

labour turnover is employed. The framing crew could be scheduled to start

work immediately after the foundations are completed by the concrete crew.

If the concrete crew has to correct their work due to miscommunication this

in turn will delay the framing crew who will then delay all the consecutive

crews. Conclusively, it only takes a small misunderstanding to lead to

significant project delays. According to Jergeas (2005), many project delays,

particularly on larger scale developments occur due to unrealistic schedules.

Project changes typically mean additional work. They must be

communicated to the execution team early on if schedule deadlines are to be

met. Effect on Cost

The cost on any given construction project can grow significantly as a

direct result of poor communication. According to Maslej (2006), project

cost can increase due to three main reasons;

 Incomplete or faulty contract documents

 Misinterpretation of contract documents

 Lack of proper project supervision.

Lack of proper project supervision can lead to schedule delays and can

significantly increase the cost of any given project. Poor communication and

inefficiencies between companies is responsible for 30% of design and

construction costs, excluding material costs such as concrete, brick and

mortar. (Constructware, n.d., 2009)

38 Effect on Worker Safety

Maslej (2006) also noted that language barrier was a strong contributor to

poor communication practices on the jobsite and had a tremendous impact

on worker safety. In many cases, contractors are willing to take risks

associated with hiring employees who cannot communicate freely with other

workers. Apart from the fact that the contractors take on a larger workload

in order to maximize profit, they also save a considerable amount of money

in labour costs by making use of illegal immigrants with language barrier.

Many of these immigrants have little or no English skills which can cause

severe communication problems on the worksite and affect productivity,

profitability and above all worker safety (Dexter, 2005).

The four most common causes of all deaths and fatal injuries in

construction are falls, being struck by something, caught in between

machinery or some other equipment, electrical shock which are all related to

workers with little or no language skills (Maslej, 2006 ). Effect on Project Quality

Quality in construction refers to the standard of work that is expected

based on the requirements of the contract documents including drawings,

specifications, contracts, addenda and any additional conditions

supplementary to the contract (Collier, 2005).

Dunbar (2006) stated that the purpose of a construction specification is to

clearly communicate the owner’s expectations to the contractor in a manner

that was fair and equitable. He further suggested that well written

specification will result in accurate documents.

Although poor project quality is often associated with being the

contractor’s fault, it is predominantly the mistakes that designers and

specification writers make that are responsible for desired project quality not

being achieved (Maslej, 2006).

Inefficiencies in contract documents issued by consultants are a form of

miscommunication and can lead to significant quality problems.




The essence of this chapter is to define the entire method adopted in

this project work. It describes the procedure followed in realizing the

objectives. This involves the adequate description of the research and

stressing on the inclusiveness of the chosen area of this study, the research

tools and sampling techniques necessitating the administration of

questionnaires and oral interview. Other discussions centered on study

design which describes the major procedure followed in carrying out the

project, the method of data collection and finally, the analysis of data

indicating the statistical tool used and suitability of such tools.


This consist twenty-eight construction companies out of which the

sample size for the study is twenty construction firms. The reason for

seeking this information from the construction companies is to know the

effects of communication on project delivery in the Nigerian Construction

Industry. The population of the research is made up of Architects, Builders,

Structural Engineers, Project Managers and Quantity Surveyors.


The procedure for sampling in this project is based on the use of

questionnaires. The sampling size for this research work is twenty

construction firms. The questionnaires are distributed to the five

professionals listed above i.e. Architects, Builders, Structural Engineers,

Project Managers and Quantity Surveyors.


In order to obtain appropriate and adequate responses from the

respondents, a combination of fixed response and open end questions was

prepared in such a way that the options of the respondents were required on

the subject of the dissertation. The questionnaire was split into five sections.
Section A consists of fixed response questions to obtain demographic data

about the respondent and the construction firm where he works. Sections B

to E will have both fixed response and open end questions based on the

objectives of the study as well as proffered solutions to aid in achieving the

aim of the study. The respondents are to tick any of the options which

portrayed their own opinions. The open end aspects of the questionnaire will

give an insight into personal views of the respondents based on their wealth

of experience.


The questionnaires were distributed to the respondents through direct

contact in order to supply the necessary data to be used for the project

work. Responses were collected on individual basis and also interviews were

conducted with respondents in respect of questionnaires earlier distributed.


In some cases, the difficulties are that professionals were not available

and when available to fill questionnaires and some opted for oral interview

and the researcher had to do a lot of writing. In other cases, some

professionals collected questionnaires and never filled them till date despite

regular visits to their sites which has resulted into time waste. Some

professionals actually claimed that they could not find the questionnaires

and asked for another copy but still did not fill them.




The information and data collected from the professionals from the

construction firms was used in making the analysis, summary, and

conclusions as well as recommendations in the next chapter.

4.1.1 Response to Questionnaire

Table 4.1: Response to Questionnaire by professionals in the selected

Construction firms



Architects 30 15 17%
Builders 30 20 22%
Quantity 30 12 13%

Contractors 30 25 28%
Engineers 30 18 20%
Total 150 90 100%
Source: Field Survey (2009)

Table 4.1 shows that 90 questionnaires out of the total 150 questionnaires

distributed were completely filled and returned.

4.1.2 Sample Size of Respondents

The sample size of respondents is as analyzed below.

Table 4.2: Sample size of Respondents

Professional Number Percentage Section of Pie Chart

Architects 15 17% 61
Builders 20 22% 79
Contractors 25 28% 101
Engineers 18 20% 72
Quantity Surveyors 12 13% 47

Quantity Surveyors Architects



Contractors Contractors
Quantity Surveyors

Figure 4.1: Pie Chart showing sample size of respondents

Source: Field Survey (2009)

From Table 4.2 above it is noticed that the highest population of

respondents is the Contractors, followed by the Builders, then the Engineers,

and then the Quantity Surveyors and lastly the Architects.

4.1.3 Work Experience of Respondents

Table 4.3: Work experience of respondents

Years Number Percentage Section of Pie Chart

0 – 5 years 14 15.56% 57
6 – 10 years 19 21.11% 76
11 – 15 years 41 45.56% 164
16 – 20 years 12 13.33% 47
Above 20 years 4 4.44% 16

Above 20 years

16-20 years 0-5 years

0-5 years
6-10 years
11-15 years
6-10 years 16-20 years
11-15 years Above 20 years

Figure 4.2: Pie Chart showing Work experience of respondents

Source: Field Survey (2009)

Table 4.3 clearly indicates that majority of the respondents are those whose

years of experience fall between 11and 15 years.

4.1.4 Age of Firm/Organization

Table 4.4: Age of Firm/Organization

Years Number Percentage Section of Pie Chart

0 – 5 years 2 10% 36
6 – 10 years 2 10% 36
11 – 15 years 6 30% 108
16 – 20 years 8 40% 144
Above 20 years 2 10% 36

Above 20 years
0-5 years

6-10 years

0-5 years
11-15 years 6-10 years
11-15 years
16-20 years 16-20 years
Above 20 years

Figure 3.3: Pie Chart showing age of firms/organizations

Source: Field Survey (2009)


Table 4.5: Assessment of Communication at Design Stage by respondents


1 Incomplete and inaccurate drawings make 3 0 9 16 6 0.90 1

construction more difficult

2 Early consultation between the architect and 8 16 17 9 4 0.73 2

builder enhances project delivery 1

3 Client approves a project after the members of 9 6 34 21 2 0.68 3

the design team have taken a collective action 0

on the feasibility report

4 Client communicates any alterations or 14 9 17 36 1 0.66 4

modifications to the consultants 4

5 Feasibility studies are carried out by the 9 9 50 13 9 0.61 5

architect only

Source: Author’s Survey (2009)

From the results of the analysis shown in Table 3.5 above, it is

observed that majority of the respondents agree that incomplete and

inaccurate drawings make construction more difficult as earlier retrieved

from Constructware.

Table 4.6: Assessment of Communication between professionals on

Construction projects

S/N FACTORS 1 2 3 4 5 R.I.I RANK

1 Use of simple and direct language will enhance 0 0 3 29 5 0.92 1

communication on site 8
2 Site meetings lead to a faster flow of information 0 0 9 29 6 0.91 2

during a construction project 2

3 Poor communication on site leads to delay in 3 3 9 29 4 0.85 3

schedules 6
4 Site meetings are an important channel of 0 0 20 32 3 0.84 4

communication between consultants and 8


5 Channels of communicating must be applicable 0 3 16 34 3 0.83 5

to all members of the construction team. 7

6 Poor and distorted information affects the level 6 9 0 29 4 0.82 6

of work done on site 6

7 Face-to-face meetings are the most effective 3 0 21 40 2 0.80 7

means of communicating 6
8 Poor communication is greatly reduced by 3 1 24 19 2 0.72 8

allowing for feedback after communicating 5 9

Source: Author’s Survey (2009)

From the results of the analysis indicated in Table 4.6, it is observed

that the use of simple and direct language will enhance communication on

site. This agrees with Mehra (2009) assertion that variations in language are

a major cause of poor communication.

Table 4.7: Communication Process in Construction Firms


1 Situating the specialist near the site 6 3 2 40 2 0.74 1

enhances communication and project 1 0


2 Irrelevant information in a department 6 12 1 39 1 0.70 2

causes delay in decision-making

7 6
3 Concise and written instructions 9 6 2 31 1 0.70 2

rather than phone calls enhances 6 9

communication in a firm

4 Lack of communication equipment for 3 18 3 29 9 0.70 2

speedy transfer of information 2

5 The type of communication system in 1 6 3 19 2 0.67 3

a construction firm is determined by 2 2 1

its size

6 Decision making is faster in 6 14 3 19 1 0.64 4

construction firms with a small 8 3


7 Organizational structure has the 1 15 3 15 1 0.61 5

greatest effect on a construction 2 3 5

project’s communication requirements

8 A large construction firm has more 1 7 4 9 1 0.60 6

problem disseminating information 7 0 7

Source: Author’s Survey (2009)

From the results of the analysis in Table 3.7, a larger number of the

respondents think that situating the specialist near the site will enhance

project delivery. This agrees with Shutt (1992) whose opinion is that having

a specialist far from site is will not improve project delivery

Table 3.8: An assessment of methods of enhancing communication in

Construction firms
1 Having a standard method of 0 0 14 16 61 0.90 1


2 Regular site meetings in order to 0 6 10 14 60 0.88 2

sort knotty issues that would have

impeded the progress of the project

3 Ensuring that drawings are devoid 0 9 18 12 51 0.83 3

of ambiguities

4 Standardizing methods of 3 12 8 20 47 0.81 4

exchanging project information

5 Maximizing use of modern 0 0 27 30 31 0.81 4

communication technology

6 Roles of all parties to be clear and 13 2 9 14 52 0.80 5


7 Using procurement methods such as 0 8 22 31 29 0.78 6

Construction Management as

against the traditional method

8 Offering technical communication 0 16 8 40 26 0.77 7


9 Seeking of builders input during the 15 9 17 21 24 0.67 8

design stage

Source: Author’s Survey (2009)

From the results of the analysis in Table 3.8, it is observed that

majority of the respondents agree that having a standard method of

communicating among different firms involved will enhance effective

communication. This agrees with Shutt (1992) view that a communication

network has to be developed within large companies to ensure that the

information necessary for decision-making gets to where it may be wanted.





The data collected from the respondents can be summarized in the

following points;

1) Incomplete and inaccurate drawings make construction more difficult.

2) The use of simple and direct language will enhance communication

on site.

3) Having a specialist from the construction firm situated near the site

will help improve the communication between the firm and the site.

4) Having a standard method of communication among the parties in the

construction industry is needed to enhance communication.


From the results obtained, it can be deduced that poor communication

is a major contributor to delay in construction project delivery. Its effects are

felt not only within the construction industry but outside its walls.


1. Construction documents and drawings must be detailed in such a way

that they become easy for the users to interprete.

2. The language to be used on site must be one that will be easily

understood by everybody involved in the project.

3. Having a site office with a resident engineer for as long as the project

exists will provide a link between the construction firm and the site

for the duration of the project.

4. Having a standardized framework for communication among

construction firms will enhance project delivery as this is critical to

increasing productivity.


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