I was very surprised, considering you are a journal for the building industry, how one-sided your coverage of the Office for Fair Trading investigation (25 April) seemed to be. The contractors are always in the wrong, while nobody else seems to be even involved.
I left school at 16 and, bar two years’ national service, have been in the industry ever since. Now that I’m 70, I think I have seen it all, or almost all, so I would like the following to be considered.
In all that time, everyone in the construction process has known what has been going on, unless they have buried their heads in the sand. How about the clients, including local authorities, that ring you up to ask you to go on a tender list, and when you explain that you have too much work on, they then ask you to make up the numbers with a nod and a wink? What happens when a client cannot get the required number of tenders on his statuary list? Get some cover prices …
Likewise, there are architects that you just do not want to work for – you know you are going to have problems from the start – so whoever does tender grossly overprices to cover the problems.
I’ve seen tender lists 20 long where nobody has been prepared to tender because the client is unreliable or difficult to deal with.
And what about the cost? Any reasonably sized tender costs several thousands to produce. Why spend the money when there is no hope of getting the work as the client has already agreed with his favourite contractor who is going to do it? Even if you spend time doing the tender it is not always a fact that you get the work. There are many ways that the client’s favoured contractor can secure the work after the tender has been delivered. I have seen so many tenders lost at the last minute for spurious reasons.
You ask: “Will clients ever trust us again?” There’s also the question: “Can contractors trust clients or their architects, quantity surveyors or other advisers again?”
Building should be putting up a far better defence of contractors than it has done so far.