Assessing the cost implication of using Mechanised Construction methods compared to Labour-intensive methods on Residential Sites.
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The study is concerned with the investigation into the cost implications of using mechanized construction methods as compared to labour-intensive methods on residential construction sites around Kampala. The specific objectives of the study were to establish construction tasks on residential sites that can be mechanized, examine the cost implications of mechanizing the tasks executed by manual labour and evaluate the pros and cons of mechanizing tasks that are executed by manual labour. After a comprehensive literature review, the levels of mechanization according to the Mechanization Index for Building Construction projects (MIBCP) were established. The level relating to the Machine/Workstation where Workmen operate a machine/work station to complete the construction task was chosen for the research since most of the equipment to be assessed falls into this category. A sample size of 44 respondents was calculated to give the most appropriate results for the research where mechanization levels of two high-level work packages namely; earthworks and concrete works were examined by dividing the work packages into individual activities. Low levels of mechanization were an attribute of earthworks that involved levelling surfaces, excavating and backfilling as compared to concrete works where the levels of mechanization were relatively high. The cost analysis findings attributed this to the high deployment costs of the earth working equipment alongside using cheaper labour-intensive methods which was also the most dominant challenge hindering construction mechanization as well as the lack of skilling for operatives to run the equipment which makes developers and local contractors reluctant thus the low levels of mechanization in the residential sector. In contrast, 95% of the industry practitioners examined agree that mechanization of construction activities presents larger output in a shorter time as well as maintenance of quality standards and optimum use of resources but still lacking in cost-effectiveness. Carrying out more comprehensive studies to investigate the best avenues for deployment of machinery to achieve cost-effectiveness especially for the residential sector, construction equipment suppliers and distributors prioritizing the availability of smaller sized alternatives for heavy equipment and local contractors investing in reskilling of labour for the operation of the various machinery are highly recommended for mechanization to gain traction in the residential sector.