‘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…

How well does procurement and contract practice enable BIM?

We now have a government mandate to use BIM Level 2 for all centrally procured construction projects and the take-up of BIM usage is broadening out into the wider public and private sectors. Officially the concept of Level 2 is entirely compatible with established commercial arrangements. The CIC BIM Protocol (2013) is the key document here, agreed with the legal and insurance sectors. However, there have always been concerns in some quarters. JCT itself does not endorse the CIC Protocol in its entirety as it claims to override the contract in the event of discrepancies….

Globalisation – winners and losers

Blog author: Richard Saxon CBE, JCT Chairman Construction used to be the most local of industries. Buildings were made from the nearby materials by local craftsmen and master masons. There were no ‘professionals’. As modern materials came in so they were sourced from further afield and professionals emerged to decide how to use them. Whilst bulky materials are expensive to ship, the UK has largely gone over to importing building products, with a major negative balance of payments for manufactured components. For a wide variety…

One Building or Two?

Blog author: Richard Saxon, JCT Chairman The conventional client for a construction project has focussed on achieving success in getting their requirements delivered to quality, on time and on budget. It has been a capital project mind-set, measuring achievement over the period up to the final account. Those clients who own the building tend to change the accounting status and the leadership involved at the end of the capital phase, handing the facility manager, who is rarely involved before this point, a bundle of information…

Copenhagen

Blog author: Richard Saxon, JCT Chairman Every country has a construction industry unique to itself. Members of each see their way of developing, designing, building and operating buildings as normal and other country’s ways as exotic. Mostly however, members don’t look outside their own construction culture. I have often thought that a good module for courses in professional education would be ‘International Comparative Construction’, teaching students to question how and why things are done the way they are at home. Japan, Germany, the USA, France…