Design changes seem to be an inevitable part of engineering, procurement and construction EPC projects. Such changes create a need for a proactive approach to adjusting project scope, cost and time (the triple constraints) for efficiency and effectiveness in overall delivery. This study investigates the causes and implications of design changes in order to improve design change management practices. Data for the study were obtained through online interviews with New Zealand industry practitioners. Thematic analysis was used to collate the results into meaningful data. The study found that design changes were predominantly caused by clients’ inadequate strategic planning, insufficient attention to design, EPC contractors’ inadequate design ability, and on-site variations. There were three categories of such design changes: direct impact on the project, the reciprocal and complementary effect on stakeholders, and the far-reaching impact on the community. The study concludes by suggesting improvements, such as strengthening the integration of project teams to enhance design quality, strategic alignment of stakeholders at the planning stage, early contractor involvement (ECI) between the planning and design phases, and improving collaboration between design and construction teams. Further, a combination of high technical skills (e.g., design ability) and soft skills (can-do attitude, interpersonal skills, problem-solving skills, documentation skills, etc.) are needed to generate the desired improvement in design change management.
Buildings, 2022, 12 (1486), pp. 1 - 19 (19)