Professional Futures

Blog Author: Richard Saxon CBE, JCT Chairman Every part of the construction industry is challenged by rapidly evolving threats: stagnant productivity, falling human resources, failing business models, climate change, globalisation, advancing computer power, to name some of them. Most attention is paid to the plight of contractors and specialists, but the world of consultancy also faces these same issues. Professionals additionally face falling credibility and authority as respect for expertise declines. Their professional institutions seem powerless to communicate the value of the professional contribution to…

Lucky 13?

Blog Author: Richard Saxon CBE, JCT Chairman Construction is many industries within one classification. It stretches from the mammoth to the minute, from infrastructure work like HS2 to household repair tasks. Any critique of construction therefore needs to recognise the part of the industry to which it refers. The statistical classification of the industry also fails to include its clients and consultants, essential parts of the cultural and economic system of the built environment. All that having been said, new initiatives at one end of…

‘Re-integration’

  Blog Author: Richard Saxon CBE, JCT Chairman The collapse of Carillion is probably another nail in the coffin of the current UK model of main  contracting where virtually all the trade work is subcontracted. Over fifty years in the industry, I have seen the change from traditional contractors with their main trades in-house to the current, insustainable pattern. The vertically integrated contractor was brought down by recurrent business cycles which punish employers. Once the idea spread that trade specialists could be hired in just…

The Sector Deal

Blog author: Richard Saxon CBE, JCT Chairman The Construction Leadership Council is an innovation set up by Government in 2016 to provide a successor to the concept of the Chief Construction Adviser and to provide an expert body to guide government in its approach to the industry. The concept was to select a group of chief executives or chairmen from leading firms across the supplier landscape, co-chaired by the construction minister and a major client, Andrew Wolstenholme of Crossrail. Government disdains the bodies set up…

‘Going Soft’

We need to be harder on ourselves as an industry and admit that most of our new buildings reach the end of their defects liability period without ever delivering the performance that they promised. BREEAM ratings at design stage do not predict carbon emissions commensurate with the grading. Sometimes, the certificated building burns several times the expected energy consumption. And typically, we don’t go back to analyse the performance, nor the workability of the design for the purpose intended. We move on to the next…

Is there a blockchain in our future?

The digital transformation of construction rolls onwards, adding yet more ideas. After BIM, GIS, IoT and 3D Printing comes Blockchain. This financial technology (fintech) concept is the power behind Bitcoin, the shadowy cryptocurrency that currently oils the wheels of nefarious businesses across the world. So, why would this be a relevant idea for our industry? I’m not going to attempt to explain how blockchain works, but it essentially allows all parties to a trade to access an incorruptible record of transactions. It allows trust in…

Is offsite the answer?

The construction industry is heading for the buffers. Capacity is draining out as skilled tradesmen retire and few enter as apprentices. The go-to supply of EU migrant tradesmen is likely to be restricted soon and is already less interested as the pound falls. Construction quality is poor in the housebuilding world. Mark Farmer’s message: Modernise or Die, which I quoted in my last newsletter, is clear that a major move to offsite construction is needed to keep the industry from decline. The proponents of offsite…

Will We Ever Collaborate?

Blog author: Richard Saxon CBE, JCT Chairman 2016 was another year in which insightful reports were published castigating the UK construction industry for its dysfunction and making recommendations that may or may not ever be acted upon. The recent much publicised Farmer Review: ‘Modernise or Die’, was preceded by ‘Collaborative Construction: More myth than reality?’, produced by Pinsent Masons. Mark Farmer joined the December meeting of JCT Council to discuss his report’s implications for contracts. The Collaborative Construction report is the result of a wide…

An Ill Wind?

Blog author: Richard Saxon CBE, JCT Chairman Britain has a massive, long-term housing problem, with market-driven supply not nearly equalling demand and major skill shortages preventing any increase in that supply in the short term. The country also has a set of policies in place which hamper alternatives from making a contribution by seeing home-ownership as the people’s ideal. It may be the aspiration of the majority but it’s an impracticable one: home ownership rates are falling. But now we have another national crisis to…

Standard Bearer

Richard Saxon, chair of the Joint Contracts Tribunal, speaks to Building legal columnist Francis Ho about new kinds of contracts, the competition, and where he thinks the industry is heading… The Joint Contracts Tribunal (JCT) is the UK’s leading provider of standard form construction contracts. As it launches its 2016 editions, we sat down with its chair, Richard Saxon, to discuss some of the big issues facing the organisation and the wider construction industry. Here’s what he had to say … On his role and objectives… I chair the meetings of the JCT…