It’s a sad reflection on the industry that what Tony Bingham says is true

Specialist contractors – the very people who deliver the substance the client has paid for – find themselves at the end of the chain and bearing the full weight of the risk.

Collaborative working offers huge potential for everybody to benefit, with project cost savings of up to 20%, but not until we see a change in current practices and attitudes.

Bingham will recognise that one of the most common causes of construction disputes is mismatching between specialist products or a design that fails to allow for the constraints of a specialist system. Yet the current model for collaboration sees specialist contractors being appointed far too late to identify and resolve these issues. This means the client suffers because the risk is shouldered by those least able to manage it. It’s no surprise then that trust is lost, putting entire projects at risk.

Collaboration, so far, appears to be an excuse for main contractors to say they will co-ordinate the whole project process – risks, design, the lot – only to procure their supply chain on the basis of cut the cost and dump the risk. Integration stops at the client team, with the client never reaping the savings in time and efficiency or the simplification that specialists can bring to the table.

To unlock these benefits, a better model of collaboration is needed, one where both risks and savings are properly identified at the outset, with the pain and the gain shared by those best placed to create savings for the client. Some of your readers may know of projects that have actually benefited in this way. It would be good to hear about them.

Peter Lewis, chairman, Confederation of Construction Specialists