Strategic forum proposes role of independent construction adviser to give occasional clients impartial advice.
Sir John Egan's strategic forum is to advise construction clients against approaching architects or other industry professionals when they need a new building.

Instead, the forum is proposing the creation of a new role, the independent construction adviser, to act as an impartial counsellor.

The idea, which received support at last week's forum meeting, was developed by the Confederation of Construction Clients as part of its campaign to educate inexperienced clients. According to Mike Roberts, chairman of the confederation, these clients tend to rely on "architects met on the golf course".

Roberts said: "We want to encourage them to seek out disinterested advice at a very early stage – as soon as they feel a building coming on." Roberts, who sits on the strategic forum's clients working group, added that it was "almost impossible for construction professionals to give disinterested advice".

Architect Ian Salisbury, a small practitioner based in Oxford, rejected this charge.

He said: "An architect is a professional retained to give disinterested advice. Quite clearly, Egan has forgotten that."

An architect is retained to give disinterested advice. Clearly, Egan has forgotten that

Ian Salisbury, architect

Independent advisers would be similar to independent financial advisers, responsible for helping clients decide whether or not a new building was required, and what form it should take.

"They'd make sure the decisions clients had jumped to were appropriate," said Roberts.

"They would ask if what they wanted was really going to add to the value of their businesses." The adviser would also help the client draw up a brief and select the construction team.

Independent advisers could come from any sector, but would have to be accredited and abide by a code of conduct. To ensure their independence, their businesses would not be allowed to work on any subsequent building commissioned by that client.

Last week, Building reported that the forum intended to urge construction firms to band together in framework-style "clusters" specialising in particular building types, to help inexperienced clients end up with integrated teams.