CABE chairman tells Design Build Foundation conference that clients need to respect specialists' expertise.
CLIENTS should pay more attention to what craftsmen and contractors have to say, declared the government's architecture champion Sir Stuart Lipton.

Speaking at the annual conference of the Design Build Foundation (now known as DBF), the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment chairman urged clients to consult specialists such as bricklayers and carpenters so they could benefit from their experience.

Sir Stuart added that contractors should not be afraid to question an architect's decision.

He said: "One of the dismal failures of our industry is that clients think they know better than craftsmen. We need to return to the traditional values to get craftsmen back on projects.

"What we are for is working together. Construction is still too reluctant to come forward when architects make mistakes. I still feel that construction does not feel itself to be equal." The CABE chairman also said that 30% of a scheme's construction cost could be saved through greater efficiency.

He said 10% of costs were the result of design errors, 10% were down to site wastage and a further 10% were brought about by clients changing their specifications.

One of our industry’s dismal failures is that clients think they know better than craftsmen

Sir Stuart Lipton, Cabe

Sir Stuart also said certain aspects of building design, such as fire escape stairs, could be standardised. He said: "In this country, if we cut down on the number of new details, we might halve costs." At the conference, new DBF chairman Tony Giddings, director of developer Argent, announced that his firm would be one of the first clients to join the foundation's registration scheme, which three clients will begin trialling next month.

The scheme already includes designers, contractors and suppliers. To register, companies undergo a four-stage assessment process to prove they have the systems and procedures in place to undertake design-and-build projects. The scheme will be opened to all clients – both DBF members and non-members – in the new year.

The DBF also unveiled a training programme for project managers in a bid to improve communication between disciplines and combat the professional skills crisis in the industry.

The 18-month programme, developed with Henley Management College, will revolve around six residential modules, plus distance learning and assignments. Successful candidates will achieve a DBF Diploma in Project Team Leadership that can form part of a Henley MBA.

The programme will be open to clients, architects, cost managers, project managers, contractors and specialist suppliers.