It is most refreshing to read a thoroughly independent and objective analysis of construction management. Ashley Pigott is correct in saying it is for the professional client that builds regularly, and by definition, knows what he wants and does not change his mind (8 October, page 56).
Who then advises clients, such as the Scottish parliament, that for a complicated design for an organisation that does not build regularly, construction management is the appropriate route? I doubt it is the architect or engineers.
There is a radical alternative: the site start is delayed until the design is fully developed; there are full bills of quantities; the project is tendered to a very short and properly selected group of contractors; and the employer is informed that change will cost him dearly. The result is a later start, more timely completion and a final account that is within a few per cent of the tender figure.
In addition to this, the other bonuses are that it tends to dispense with a large number of construction and project managers, reduces the gravy train for the legal profession and might result in an incentive to retrain quantity surveyors so that they may become useful quantity surveyors.
For sure, construction using management techniques is justified for experienced clients that know exactly what they want. But, given that this is the minority, why then is the industry not refocusing on “traditional” forms of procurement? I am not someone who looks fondly at the past and believes it was infinitely better but I cannot help but think that a client has a better chance of receiving his building on time and close to budget if as much as possible is drawn, specified and billed before getting to site.
For the client, he must accept there is a greater cost up front to achieve this – by which I mean an acceptance that a decent fee will enable his interests to be better served.
JE Price, Hunter Price, via email