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“The nature of UK construction is adversarial”. This is what you often hear about the construction industry. We had no problems agreeing; during our combined working life we have seen more than enough of it! QSs, design teams, PMs, main contractors and sub-contractors, all having a right old go at each other over money! After that it’s Arbitration and that’s often followed by a trip to the Courts!

But, we believe that this is more of a UK construction culture thing (or maybe better to say a UK contract style thing, since you also see the same in the Middle East, Australia etc). After having a good look at the construction culture in U.S.A., France and Denmark, we noticed that these countries have much more of a consultation and co-operation culture.

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Why is this so?

In the UK we had the Post-War regeneration period when we had to construct a lot of new buildings, particularly houses, in a hurry. To accelerate the process the Labour Government of the day produced various pieces of Legislation to help clients, particularly Local Authorities putting up Social Housing, to get the country back with roofs over our heads.

What economists tell us is this :

A situation was created where any potential construction client was an effective monopoly, whilst any party tendering for any part of the works was an effective free market. Construction clients exploited this to drive their costs down, especially at the expense of their contractors. Because of this we saw the “invention” of the Quantity Surveying role, and one of their primary functions was to try and make a profit for their employer, be that the main or sub-contractor. It was this function that helped to foster this adversarial culture.

Many UK construction clients – and main contractors have carried on in this same mindset through to the present day. Many of the recent and well known industry initiatives, such as **Latham and Egan Reports, have been focused on trying to tone down this culture.

Change on the horizon

What do we need to change this adversarial behaviour? Simply put, we at GenieBelt believe that deep down everyone involved wants to do a good job and to achieve a successful outcome for their business.

The Client will be happy if he gets a building which is finished on time, is up to the quality required and is, of course, within budget.

The design team and consultants will be happy if they secure their fees for the projects and if the Client and project team wants to work with them again.

The Contractor and Subcontractors will be happy if they get paid on time, secure a good profit and ensure that the project team, their workers and most importantly, the Client, wants to work with them again.

On top of that, all parties will be happy if they complete a project, and were a part of a team, that they can all be proud of.

One of our missions at GenieBelt is to help facilitate all of this so that we can all achieve these successful outcomes more often and start promoting more pride in the work we all do in construction.

Blog post written by Stuart Howie (built something like 2,500 houses, refurbished 1,500 homes and 150 contracts of which a 100 were project turnaround roles!) with some help from Gari and feedback from our advisors.