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Tory MP calls for focus on construction quality

4 October 2019 | By CM staff

The CIOB's fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference (Image: CIOB)

A Conservative MP has called for construction companies to place a stronger emphasis and suggested that pay among some executives in the housebuilding sector was too high.

Speaking at the Chartered Institute of Building’s (CIOB) fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference, Richard Bacon admitted that housebuilders had a duty to make money for their shareholders but argued that some executives’ pay, which can run into seven figures, was too high.

“Even by the standard of blood-curdling, right-wing Brexiteer free-market Tories it does sound a little excessive. That is money that should have been going into better quality and better thermal performance,” he said.

Bacon argued that a level playing field needed to be created for companies in the industry in order to give create a more competitive market and give consumers more choice.

Meanwhile, Eddie Hughes MP called for the creation of a regulator with “teeth” to force housebuilders to refund customers if their house was not up to scratch.

Speaking about homebuyers, he said: “In many ways they seem to have fewer rights than they would if they had bought a faulty kettle. Particularly in our role as MPs, I think about those people who bought a new house and then find there are problems with it, but they are one small individual against the mighty housebuilder.”

Caroline Gumble, chief executive of the CIOB, said that all professional bodies in construction were committed to the quality agenda and urged stakeholders to “get on with implementing the Hackitt review”.

Labour conference

The CIOB has attended both the Labour Party Conference in Brighton and the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester to discuss key issues facing construction.

At the Labour conference, the CIOB hosted a fringe event with the New Statesman on tackling mental health and improving wellbeing. The panel included contributions from professor Charles Egbu, president of the CIOB, Alex Cunningham MP, shadow housing minister, Gail Cartmail, assistant general secretary of Unite the Union and Lawrence Waterman, chairman of the British Safety Council.

Egbu attendees about the CIOB’s own survey into mental health, which has so far generated over 2,000 responses from industry, as a mechanism for raising awareness and to help develop practical tools to improve its record on wellbeing. A fulll writeup of the debate can be found here.

At both conferences, the CIOB has also held a joint institutes event with RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects), RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) and RTPI (Royal Town Planning Institute), discussing skills provision in the built environment at the Labour conference. At the Conservative conference, Jake Berry, minister for the northern powerhouse gave a keynote address and the CIOB demonstrated its commitment to supporting the northern powerhouse alongside the other institutes.

Commenting on her first party conference season, Gumble said: “It was valuable to gain a real insight into the workings of the policy and public affairs team as well as have a number of positive and fruitful meetings. I do believe that collaboration with other organisations is important and can help drive our work forward and support delivery of the best outcomes for our sector.”

Comments

wow i think pot and kettle

peter jooste-brown-brown, 7 October 2019

You've had a race to the bottom on constructions costs for decades coupled with those at the top creaming off any profits for themselves so what do you expect?
Fact is that as a country we haven't been paying the true value of our building materials & labour for a very long time. Its no wonder there is a skills crisis.

Scott, 7 October 2019

The issues relating to quality within the industry are a topic that most would
rather not approach, or as Mark Farmer states (The Farmers Review), it’s like “opening a can of worms which many would prefer not to be touched”. What is very apparent is that the industry needs improvement as it is vital for the future development aspiration of the UK. The different issues relating to poor quality are seemingly a domino effect of many different internal and external influences.

Many industry experts and academics identify a distinct lack of skilled and focus workmanship has being the main cause. However, what is also apparent is that the culture of the industry is subjectively influenced by the UK Governmental reforms and targets set within industry strategies, i.e. Construction 2025, most industry experts fail to recognise this, but, combined with diminishing profit margins, caused by instability within the economy (Brexit) are continuing to drive the need to further value engineer out additional project costs, to help obtain a better margin, which - as a result - will continue to bring a reduced focus or a “that’ll do” attitude towards quality.

I have developed a paper on these issues' that identify's the route cause for the decline in quality, I'm also currently working on ways to improve quality at site level which I hope to produce later this year and try and implement on my next project so hopefully I will be able to test if my theory will work.

Paul Steels, 7 October 2019

It is worrying that an MP should address comments about the excessive pay of speculative house builders to the CIOB. Surely it is the policies of politicians that have created a disfuctional house building market. Also I would have thought that addressing these remarks to the NHBC or other bodies that represent speculative house builders would have been more appropriate.

Alan Chapman, 7 October 2019

Better quality costs a lot less than putting right bad quality. Just invest wisely in getting buildings right the first time. Instead, through your actions or failure to act you show that would rather pay the considerable price of poor quality.

Waggler, 7 October 2019

Long over due

Sheila, 7 October 2019

Following outstanding feedback of my report that identified the route cause for the decline in quality, which was peer reviewed by another professional body, they recommended that I send it to the CIOB, amongst others, in January 2018 for peer review. This was before the Hackitt report came out, my report identified the issues relating to poor quality which is surprisingly echoed the Code of Quality Management paper released by the CIOB in 2019.
I have already been working on this for some time and have put together strategies to improve quality across the industry which, once set-up, should be self regulating and aimed at promoting and developing higher skills, professional workmanship principles and industry standards.
The odd thing is that the tools needed to improve quality within the industry are already their to be implemented, it just needs a little creative thinking, coupled with modern technology and dedicated management/control procedures to action it effectively, which I aim to prove in my next paper.

Paul Steels, 8 October 2019

For quality, read education, training and experience; an old chestnut. Once properly trained and educated and I don’t necessarily mean academically qualified, then and only then can projects be adequately supervised to produce the quality of an output specification. “Snagging” should be a thing of the past and return visits non existent. This is not utopia. It is achievable but it has to be a company philosophy, not just a company value that looks right to outside world or one that’s displayed on your computer screen every morning. Everyone has to subscribe to it and incorporate it within budgets.

John Baker, 8 October 2019

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