Builders who understand the design process give themselves a competitive edge

Rab Bennetts

I recently had a fascinating conversation over a pint with the design manager from a major contractor. He was keen to explore what architects expected from design management now that contractors are often their bosses.  What a breath of fresh air (and a worthwhile pint)! 

Most contractors’ design managers can’t think further than subcontractor tender dates and aren’t knowledgeable about the far wider range of tasks faced by designers during the contract stage - the remaining town planning issues, client approvals, mock-ups, specialist subcontractor design and so on  -  and the time needed for them.

Some of the design programmes we receive from contractors are simply not credible. By contrast, it seems to me that contractors who understand design are in an elite minority and are well placed to win the design team’s vote at tender stage, all other things being equal. 

With contractor-led procurement now representing a large part of the industry my design manager friend is clearly ahead of the game.

Rab Bennetts is a founding director of Bennetts Associates