Contract Flooring Journal (CFJ) the latest news for flooring contractors

HomeCFA CommentMissing an important point?

Missing an important point?

‘Creating a productive environment for UK construction’ – Carl asks whether this is ignoring the biggest problem.

I AM keen to raise an issue which has been a topic of discussion at recent CFA Council meetings. This concerns a recent initiative from the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) on Creating a Productive Environment for UK Construction.

This aims ‘to close the productivity gap between construction output per worker and economy average by 2035, recognising that improving productivity will drive benefits across all four sectors and all four CLC priorities’.

The CLC sets out several proposals. These include actions for government, such as improved leadership in infrastructure planning, reform of the planning system, improving confidence in the pipeline, collaborative working on achieving Net Zero targets, developing a flexible skills system and incentivising innovation.

For industry the headline actions include adoption of a knowledge sharing programme called Early Integrated Teams, improved onsite efficiency, enhanced quality and assurance, supply chain development including the adoption of fair payment practices, reskilling and reshaping of the workforce and involvement of professional institutions to develop capability within the industry.

These are all credible aspirations, which, if achieved, will help make our industry more efficient and more effective. However, from my own experience I think there are other areas which are particularly relevant in flooring, and which maybe aren’t given enough consideration by main contractors. I think these equally deserve thought as they seriously affect productivity.

These are inefficiencies that our sector experiences in delivering most projects and it seems to be getting worse. We have spoken about them before in these pages and I know my predecessor in this role, Hamish MacGregor, championed project planning and site conditions in his columns, and he also mentioned how much things improved during the pandemic when guidelines forced good practice.

But regrettably the CFA council, to a person, feels things have returned to an all-time low. It basically stems from clients and main contractors who too often have unrealistic schedules, made worse by late starts. Since, as flooring contractors and a finishing trade we tend to be one of the last trades on site, if there are problems with the schedule then these often manifest themselves as poor site conditions.

If we find that plasterers, decorators, ceiling fixers and electricians or plumbers are still in our working area when we arrive onsite, then it makes it more difficult for all of us to work effectively and efficiently, leading to conflict, further delays and possibly a less satisfactory job being delivered. There is a serious mental health dimension to all of this too.

We’ve all been aware of projects which have become squeezed at the end, and while these are programming issues, I regret that I also regularly come across main contractor site management who don’t seem to have a very good grasp of basic project management skills.
Compounding our difficulties by seemingly dismissing the problems created by trades working on top of each other, areas not clear or ready to receive floorcoverings etc. It’s not uncommon to have to help with planning this phasing.

Are all these issues adequately addressed in the CLC plan? Are the CLC board members aware that their main contractor members are often the cause of the huge inefficiencies that we experience on a day-to-day basis at a site level?

We welcome the CLC initiative to look at inefficiencies in construction, but for this initiative to be credible and bring a willing supply chain along, I would appeal to them to include addressing some of these issues too. There are many very capable specialist contractors, backed by trade associations that can help with solutions but some investment in their own infrastructures and practical training of their management teams is also needed.

These strategic initiatives are important, in order to give us the big picture and a policy framework, but those who develop them need to make sure that the basics (including their own previous initiatives!) are in place and working well before they attempt to build on top of them. If the assumptions upon which new initiatives are based don’t reflect the reality on the ground, then there is a risk of them just adding more levels of complication and making project management even more difficult than it was before.

In contract flooring we can too often be firefighting onsite because of poor planning, poor training and a focus on lowest cost, rather than on quality, which we know as a sector we can and want to deliver.
0115 9411126

Please click to view more articles about

Stay Connected




Popular articles