The construction sector manages to accomplish some amazing things – so why don’t we shout about it more?


As we bask in the late summer sunshine it is clear there are a few more rays of hope shining through. Confidence is back. Not universally so, but the shift in some quarters is palpable, particularly the major developers. So despite the buzz and reasons to be cheerful, why does our industry often undervalue itself?

I am struck that what we all do is pretty special. Despite periodic calls from industry luminaries for standardisation (and therefore efficiency), in 30 years of practice, I’ve never been asked by a client to build the same building twice. Leaving things like sheds, residential (obviously), and brand- orientated programmes like retail aside, all clients are looking for a differentiator for their building, be it architectural, material or increasingly, performance.

Producing fantastic buildings while providing value, against the background of such a fragmented industry, is an extra reason to be proud. We do that on a daily basis

Producing fantastic new buildings or reinventing outdated ones is not a production line operation. There is a scratch team of maybe hundreds of designers, specialists and tradesmen assembled for each project. So getting the right people in the right place at the right time with the right tools and components hundreds of times on each unique project does not happen without a great deal of effort and skill, starting with the first sketch design and culminating in installation of a component to millimetre accuracy.

Doing it well while providing value, against the background of such a fragmented industry, is an extra reason to feel proud. And we do that on a daily basis.

For outside commentators, knocking the building industry is easy and it results in an image which makes it harder in some areas to recruit the very best from the nation’s talent pool. But shout it from the rooftops (avoiding tripping over the PV’s) – in an increasingly virtual world, we are proud of an industry that produces real things, buildings, often of great quality and necessity.

Richard Jones is a senior partner at Jackson Coles