In the issue of 16 July, your leader referred to “consistently reduced construction costs”, and Alistair McAlpine commented that “a cheap price and a silver tongue” were generally accepted as “an alternative to expertise”.

It seems to me that Patrick O’Sullivan’s family (page 24, July 16) knows the difference between the real cost and the price paid.

Until such time as some semblance of integrity becomes an inherent part of the construction process then the status quo of the “marketplace” – a euphemism for dog eat dog – will prevail.

The alternative is open commitment on both sides based on the integrity of the parties. These clients, who are rare, reap huge rewards – up to 50% on the “market” price.

During my 40 years in the industry there has never been a death on one of my sites, although there have been some pretty awful injuries. Nor have I allowed quality standards to suffer because they cost too much. I have also had the privilege of working on some “leading edge” designs such as those of Sir Nicholas Grimshaw.

Here are a few things that could be done:

  • Give full recognition to health and safety and environmental issues.
  • Make sure the bean counters know what the real cost is, and not just the price – and exclude them from control of the works.
  • Use more prefabrication to remove men from the dangerous work face.
  • Deal with the vagaries of the weather. Once, on a 12 month project that was completely enclosed from start to finish, I managed to save 20% from the budget, which was far more than the cost of providing the protection.

William Matley, via email