July 18, 2020

Technical Learning Resources for Construction

Useful websites to help you understand technical concepts

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When I first started my career in construction project management, I realised how little I knew. I was completing a double degree in both architecture and engineering at University. But to be honest, they didn't prepare me for the real world.

There is so much to learn when you're in the construction industry. The construction industry is complex and varied. Do not believe anyone who says they know everything about construction. Because it's impossible.

As a project manager, I am not expected to be the technical expert in a particular field (we pay consultants for that!) However, good project managers understand key technical concepts. They identify key risks and issues and ensure coordination between disciplines.

I've been in involved with many technically complex projects like research labs. And throughout the project, I learnt so much. But you couldn't be passively involved and expect people to teach you. I had to find ways to grasp technical concepts.

Here are some resources that I use to help learn about technical topics.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of the websites below.

DesigningBuildings.co.uk

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Designing Buildings

This is one of my favourite websites. Think of this as the Wikipedia of construction. It covers almost anything you need to know about property and construction. Topics range from BIM, to contract management, to current news in the building industry.

Something to note is that because this is a public wiki, anyone can submit anything. There is almost too much information and some articles aren't kept up to date. The website is also quite UK focused but most articles are quite applicable to the Australian industry.

Australian Building Code Board

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Australian Building Code Board - National Construction Code

Australian Building Code Board publishes the National Construction Code (formerly known as Building Code of Australia). It is the code the design needs to follow. Download the free guide and save it on your Desktop. Any time you have a question such as "egress" or "lifts", just search through the pdf and see what it says. It doesn't matter if you don't understand everything. You can use this as a starting point to raise questions with consultants.

Points Build

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Points Build

Points Build is a paid online course where you can earn Continuous Professional Development points. At my previous work, I requested to sign up to the course as part of my professional development to learn a bit more bout NCC. I found it quite helpful but, to be honest, some content was very, very dry. But I don't know how they can make it any more interesting.

Youtube Channel - The Engineering Mindset

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Engineering Mindset Youtube Channel

The Engineering Mindset is a youtube channel where they explain how things like electrical services and HVAC work in a building. I recently discovered this website and have been finding it very useful. It's almost guaranteed that you'll be dealing with HVAC and Electrical Services every time you work on a refurbishment project. A few videos of this will make you seem a little bit more knowledgeable and convincing!

Supplier Website

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Example - Cage Washing Equipment

If you're installing special equipment or using proprietary materials, you can find useful information on the supplier's website. It should mention information such as installation guides, whether it has fire test certificates, what kind of codes it complies with and much more. If not, you can contact them and they'll give you all the information you need (including reasons why their product is the best).

What you won't find are their competitions - so make sure you look at other websites too.

Google

Despite all the useful websites online, I usually begin by just googling. The Internet has all the information you need. But it's about how quickly you can find relevant information.

Your consultants & Peers

But then again, even though the internet holds all the answers to your problems, there are times when you still don't understand. That's when talking to people who are experts help a lot.

When I work with consultants during design and constructions, I am not afraid of asking a lot of questions (I usually talk to them on the side).

At my previous workplace, there was an engineering team that we had to consult during the design and construction phase. They ensured that it fits with the overall engineering masterplan. During the construction phase, they would double-check the quality and ensure the consultants were doing their job.

Thanks to this unique workplace structure, I used to set up coffee meetings with these engineers and ask them a billion of questions. These meetings were really helpful and they were very willing to teach me.

Summary

Check out the websites above, master your googling skills, and don't be afraid to ask questions to experts. You'll slowly increase your technical knowledge to a place where you feel more confident in managing complex projects.


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