Posts Tagged 'Government'

We’ve done it all before…

I read with interest the article in ‘building’on Friday by Paul Morrell titled making a Virtue of Necessity and what struck me from his message most of all was that we’ve done all what he’s looking for before!

The essence of the message I get from him and the cabinet office document ‘Government Construction Strategy’ is for change through liked minded individuals, companies groups and organisations. Yes we need an educated client with consistent application and yes we need an integrated proposition from the industry too.

And here’s my experience  – it’s all been done before in the private sector!

Who and how?

With Bovis Construction (as then) and M & S.


Way back on 13th December 1945 at Stepney Green is when it all began……we never learn do we?

 How did it work?

Simple really……….

The client had a need to build new stores to expand after the war and it integrated Bovis along with the professional team to do just this.

The client had an expansion programme that Bovis worked with, so it new in advance what was being built and where so resources could be planned and managed

A select supply chain was established so buying power could be used, preferred rates/prices and/or schedules of rates were set up across the country.

You knew if you were working on a store in Epsom that a ‘Truro’ pelmet detail meant that it was the same detail that had been used at the Truro store.

The contracts were simple, Bovis was paid a fee for its management skills and expertise, the supply chain prices were transparent through to the client too.

At the outset of the project an estimate of prime cost was established with Bovis and the consultant qs and you worked together as a team to make it work – on the same side with the same objectives.

The contract to the subcontractors were 2 sides of paper – the thing that nobody liked on it was the infamous pay when paid clause – but that’s now outlawed isn’t it?

And it worked because everyone trusted each other throughout the entire process

So here you are Mr Morrell here’s the blue print for your strategy –it’s a document called The building process – a case study from Marks and Spencer Limited published in 1970 you’ll have to get hold of it from the national archives mind.

Here’s three quotes for you from ‘building’ magazine in July 1970 on the document too…..

  1. It is the forward looking methods employed, the enlightened manner in which primary and secondary objectives are defined, the effective co-ordination of multi-disciplinary skills and attitudes and the mutual trust and respect created by the relationship enshrined in the Marks and Spencer/Bovis method of procedure that some future improvements in the general management of building should be sought…..
  2. The case study highlights the fact that Marks & Spencer over the years consistently have simplified procedures by reducing the amount of paperwork employed and in consequence the company has placed increasing reliance upon direct personal contact and individual responsibility. The combined effect of these twin objectives has been to create a real feeling of belonging to the Marks & Spencer organisation whether the individuals concerned are directly or indirectly employed.
  3. The long and close relationship between the staffs of Marks & Spencer, their professional design teams, of Bovis and of various specialist sub-contractors must have contributed in large measure to the success story recounted in the bulletin and in particular to the recent development and application of computer techniques to location billing, material scheduling, manpower planning, expenditure control and the monitoring of progress.

I found my copy of a commemorative brochure produced by Bovis in 1970 to celebrate the long working relationship, and for these quotes. It is also the source of the pictures and quotes….couldn’t find anything on line at building!

So…….it’s been done before……… and it worked!

P. S. The document produced by Bovis is a fascinating read and if they let me I’ll try and make it available on line, its quite a story!

I blame the Government…

Well Sir John Egan does, so read on….

But first

Here’s an unsurprising statistic.….one in eight UK Construction firms are pricing jobs with no profit in.

Come on, who on earth paid KPMG to come up with this piece of earth shattering news! Oh I know its just KPMG wanting to drum up more business for themselves.

For those of us old enough and been around the game long enough will know what really goes on, and its nothing new to find this out given that we are in one of the toughest periods construction has ever known…..or has it?

On this theme a thank you to Keith Kelly @pagroupuk via twitter who drew my attention to a bbc article online about deconstructing the economy. Makes for some fascinating reading. Statistics I ask you. Duh.

Anyway who out there doesn’t know what contractors get up to when things get tough and they are scrambling around for work and every last penny they can find. And who suffers in the long run as a result? Well everyone really. Don’t they?

How can we change this circus we are in? I’m afraid I haven’t got the easy answer, I wish I had. Everyone has a role to play from the employer, professional advisers, contractors, subcontractors and suppliers alike.

Dear old Sir Michael Latham and Sir John Egan and their review Rethinking Construction of our industry from 1998 recommended many things but heres two of them repeated again:

  • ’The industry must replace competitive tendering with long term relationships based on clear measurement of performance and sustained improvements in quality and efficiency.’
  • ‘The public sector has a vital role to play in leading development of a more sophisticated and demanding customer base for construction. The task force invites the government to commit itself to leading public sector bodies towards the goal of becoming best practice clients seeking seeking improvements in efficiency and quality through the methods that we have proposed.’

Sir John Egan was asked 10 years on by building magazine were we on track? Part of his interesting reply (although in the context of the OFT investigation at the time) ‘In 1998 we said the government was a relatively poor client. This is still the case.’

So perhaps that’s the answer we’ve got to wait for the government to slap us into shape??? Think again……..

If you want to re-read the full original report heres the link

Construction Loony Manifesto?

Today’s the day that the major political parties issued their manifesto’s for the forthcoming election, so what would we want in Construction?

Here are some thoughts of my own:

  1. Get serious about CO2 reductions in existing properties, and give some incentives to the general public to make us do it
  2. Reduce VAT on conversions/alterations to domestic work to 5%
  3. Keep the momentum going in the Building Schools for the Future programme, don’t cut back
  4. Cut regulations for private house building, give some relaxation to section 106 agreements and allow some flexibility for what a local authority really needs
  5. Get serious about our energy infrastructure, gas and oil will run out eventually make use of the great intellectual talent that the UK has to offer and look at the alternatives available. We need to generate more power now. We need a joined up strategy and policy.
  6. Get tough with companies that pay late, give SME’s some real power, stop letting big companies use little companies as another source of funding.
  7. Stop developing Heathrow and build a new London airport in the Thames estuary
  8. Build the high speed rail link from London to Scotland
  9. Bring in decent transparent reform within the banking sector that we all understand, that enables banks to lend sensibly to everyone
  10. Cut government waste

Now alternatively if you want something to make you smile take a look at the Monster Raving Loony Party Manifesto – there’s something in there for everyone!

The voice of construction

It’s always a case of whoever shouts loudest gets the most attention, so why does our industry always seem to have such a weak voice when it comes to lobbying government?

Take for instance Building Magazine’s latest campaign: They’ve called it Charter 284: A Building Manifesto to promote construction spending. The title comes from the fact that, according to a report by economic consultant LEK, every £1 invested in construction generates £2.84 of GDP.

Why oh why can our voice not be heard? The government listens to car manufacturers, no doubt now the steelworkers, and it seems almost every other industry except ours. Have we really got just the boiler scrappage scheme on the go at the moment?!

And, while I’m on about it, and following what I was saying two weeks ago, what about this for some headline statistics: The government target (set in 2005) was for us to build 240,000 houses by 2016 and a further 240,000 on an annual basis thereafter. But how many did we build in 2009? 118,000!

If everyone in the industry signs up to Building’s campaign will we stand a chance of getting ourselves back on our feet again? I’d like to think so, but will we do it?

If you are interested then you can sign up here, but this is what Building are saying should be done:

  1. Complete the renewal of the school estate
  2. Don’t let spending on transport infrastructure fall more than 10% below current levels
  3. Reduce the regulatory burden on the housing sector to encourage more development
  4. Give householders incentives to green existing homes
  5. Prioritise the development of renewable energy, including nuclear, through incentives for private sector investment.

What do you think? We’ve got to start somewhere, somehow…

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About Me

I’m now the Managing Director of Mynott Associates Limited my own specialist measurement business. I’ve been in the industry all of my life since I left school. My first job was with Bovis Construction as a management trainee where I trained to become a quantity surveyor. I’ve worked for contractors all through my career, I am FRICS, FCIOB and MCIHT qualified and act as an RICS assessor. I’m also a keen Arsenal supporter having followed them from a young boy

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