Why can’t all builders be a bit nicer?
Conversations that include “October was our third best month ever in 15 years of operation” don’t come along very often in these austere times, writes Denise Chevin.
We’re talking here about the Considerate Constructors Scheme, a bit of a Cinderella of the sector, which continues to buck the downward trend with a rise in sites and firms signing up to be accredited as “Considerate”.
In fact, the Considerate Constructors Scheme has now registered more than 60,000 sites since 1997 and is about to record its 100,000th site visit. The scheme is without a doubt one of the industry’s quiet success stories.
It works in a number of ways – construction firms sign up their sites for inspection; or specialist firms that aren’t responsible for sites sign up to be accredited for their work becoming “considerate companies”. Ten of these just received Gold Awards this week – with haulage firm Peter Norris winning the Most Considerate Company accolade.
What stands out about the scheme is two key things. As an enterprise it shares more with Big Society than big business. It is a not-for-profit organisation set up in the aftermath of the Latham report to improve the industry’s image and is owned by the Construction Industry Council and The Construction Products Association. Companies pay a nominal fee to sign up a site, which is then checked a couple of times a year by a 130 semi-volunteers. It’s one of the reasons why it’s hard to duplicate abroad – even though it’s not been short of enquiries from New York to the Dubai – and there’s something rather heart-warming about it.
CCS is targeting smaller companies
The second thing is that the scheme really makes a difference to the state of the construction sites. You don’t see those sites that are registered with materials littered all over the place. The good the Considerate Constructors Scheme does was brought home recently when I cursed every day as I went to the station and had to pass the mess of a site next to the station where I live. All that stood between the site and the footpath was a flimsy bit of green netting tied into place on metal poles, which in turn were supported on concrete blocks jutting out into the path. The other side of the netting, rubble and materials were strewn everywhere.
I don’t know whether there were any accidents – they were certainly lucky if there weren’t. Tidy sites make safer sites – it stands to reason. Actually, it would be great if the CCS could produce some stats on this.
The CCS says it’s penetrated all the bigger firms, but admits it needs more take up among the smaller end. And it does. It will only achieve the ultimate job it was set up for – improving the image of the sector – if it can bring the more reckless element on board.
Planning minister Nick Boles said this week that the public might accept more house building if the houses weren’t so “pig ugly”. It might also help the cause too if the builders cleaned up the filth from the pavements, were more considerate where they parked their vans, gave a few more warnings about the inevitable disruption and noise. In short, were far far nicer.
I know part of the success of the CCS is that it’s voluntary. Me – I’d make joining it a condition of getting planning permission.
In the Considerate Company Awards, Gold Award winners were as follows:
A-one+ Integrated Highway Services Area 14
K & A Construction
L M Construction
Peter Norris (Haulage) – also the won The Most Considerate Company Award 2012
Safe Property Specialists