In response to Peter Duckett’s letter calling on specialists to get tough (29 April, page 38): how about specialists doing what they tendered for and not strong-arming medium and smaller contractors, and some larger ones, to get their own way?

Why is it that subcontractors can never price for what has been asked but, in most cases, submit something different and not necessarily better or cheaper, even though the specification has been well thought out? It would be nice if they would price as specified or, if they have a better idea, offer it as an alternative.

As far as signing the contract is concerned, this would have been sent out with the enquiry so there should be no surprises. They have priced on the documentation, haven’t they?

Why should their payments be ringfenced when the main contractors’ are not? What client is going to give fortnightly payments? Not local authorities, that’s for certain.

The same conditions should apply all the way down the contractual line, with no preferential treatment given to any member.

Many of the specialist contractors are far bigger than the main contractor and once the order is placed they exert considerable influence over the work and in some cases control the main work, no matter what they have tendered for.

The only thing I agree about in the letter is the fact that subcontractors should take more care of credit control. However, they also need to put forward applications at the required time in accordance with the contract conditions.

The only way in a lot of cases to make a point with a wayward subcontractor is to stop or withhold money from them. (There is also the problem of getting some subcontractors to come back to do end-of-defects work – they only understand money and if it is not enough they tend to walk away and leave it to the main contractor.)

There. Glad I’ve got that off my chest.

Peter Whitbread