Projects only have a 50/50 chance of coming in on cost or time according to survey of 1,000 construction figures

Less than half of all construction projects come in on time and to budget, despite some improvements in the industry since Sir John Egan's Rethinking Construction report in 1998.

This is just one finding of a year-long study for Constructing Excellence, led by Andrew Wolstenholme, the managing director of Balfour Beatty Management, and based on 1,000 interviews with industry figures.

Never Waste a Good Crisis report

The survey found that only 48% of respondents believed that the projects they worked on were completed on time, to budget, and consistently exceeded expectations. This concurred with the latest set of construction key performance indicators, monitored since the Egan report. These found that there is still only a 50/50 chance of a project coming in on cost or on time, while conceding that half of the overruns were accounted for by client-approved changes.

In 1998, Egan called for the industry to adopt better reliability, more professional relationships with clients and more systematised working practices.

Wolstenholme said that while there had been progress on partnership working and health and safety, not enough had been achieved. He said: "The fact is, the voice of the industry is not integrated or focused."

He added: "Has the industry so far accepted the challenge of building for a low-carbon economy? The answer is no."

The review, called Never Waste a Good Crisis, outlined 22 recommendations for contractors, the government and clients to improve the way the industry works.

It warns contractors not to expect clients to lead innovation over the next five years, because most will be too cash-strapped to push for radical procurement solutions. Instead, it says contractors should exploit the recession by using it to justify change.

It also carries a reminder that buildings now being constructed must be fit for occupation in a world affected by climate change, and calls on the government to prepare an integrated and funded infrastructure investment plan, and to support the chief construction adviser.