After superb journalistic sleuthing (and a case of Scotch in the right hands) we have a draft of the next report to shake up construction. Chris Addison runs through the main points
Thanks to a mole in the office of Sir John Eager (a trained one that can burrow through carpet tiles, enact elementary data-hacking procedures and find its way back to base) we here at Building have procured a pre-publication draft of his sure-to-be contentious report, Rethinking Rethinking Construction. Here’s a extract …
Ten years ago I published a controversial and, as I vainly hoped, influential report entitled Construction – Just Have A Bit of An Old Think, Would You? You probably remember it – it was only four words long (“Buck your ideas up!”) and was illustrated with a cartoon of a cat among some pigeons, with the word “Me” and an arrow pointing at the cat and the words “You shower” and a similar indicating device pointing at the pigeons. This ringing any bells?
Well, if it is, I’d be heartily surprised, because a recent survey, taken by a bunch of people who know in their heart of hearts that they’re not in the job they’d dreamed of when they were seven, has indicated that the targets that I set out in that report are not being met. In the past 10 years only 6.76% of ideas have been bucked up, when I very clearly set out a desired rate of 10% worth of idea up-bucking year on year. I am forced to conclude that this notion was too complicated for you and so set out a new, even more basic series of proposals to foster integration, partnership, good practice and the kind of general common sense and decency that you seem to want to avoid like a cat does a bath.
1. Don’t Call The Architect ‘F***face’
Down-on-their-luck, former Soviet weightlifters hurling heating pipes to one another is never going to constitute best practice
Design and build is all very well as a concept but it does seem to have brought about an erosion of professional respect. It takes a long time to train to be an architect and unlike QSs (who really ought to be able to tell you what happens if John has eight eggs and Peter takes three from about the second year of primary school), it is proper training. Just because they work for you, it doesn’t mean that every time they raise queries about how your cost-cutting measures might affect the integrity of the project, you can shout “Shut your flap, Poindexter!” and run at them with a lit cigar.
2. Some Buildings Need Toilets.
It is a sad biological fact of life that the human body is designed to void itself of waste from time to time and that most people will require some kind of convenient receptacle for this purpose since, unlike certain parties I could mention, we don’t all have subcontractors we can do it on.
Of course we all wish to cut costs, and while the traditional method of crossing out every third thing on the architect’s list certainly works on some level, it might be best to prioritise what you lose on the basis of necessity instead. It might be better to lose, say, an unpleasant but expensive two-storey glass sculpture representing (not abstractly enough) the act of coition all up the wall of the atrium rather than sawing through the lift cords and selling the counterweight for scrap. I am, of course, using a fictional example here.
The traditional method of crossing out every third thing on the architect’s list works, but it might be best to prioritise on the basis of necessity instead
That said, you know who you are.
3. It’s Health and Safety
Although the opening up of the European job market has definitely brought benefits in terms of work ethic and efficiency, it ought to be noted that seeking out down-on-their-luck, former Soviet weightlifters for their ability to hurl heating pipes up and down the scaffolding to one another is never in any way going to constitute best practice. Specialised equipment must not be adapted or used for other purposes, either. It cannot be stressed enough that, inter quite a lot of alia, the following are unacceptable: using tower cranes to haul illegally parked Jags out of the way of traffic wardens; using cement mixers for lunchtime, scotch egg-based games of bingo; using dump trucks as slides on Bring Your Daughter To Work Day.
4. There Are Only 12 Months In A Year …
… although more than half of you think otherwise. It is a fact, however, and can be checked by ringing the Greenwich Observatory or just wandering into a branch of Smith’s and having a flick through the diaries. It’s unclear how many other months you think there are, or what they’re called (Fruly? Tumtitumtitember? Keith?) but it certainly accounts for the complete inability to meet deadlines. Please. One of you. Buy a calendar.