Can Construction afford to keep delaying change?

  • Industry Viewpoint

I’ve previously spoken about the fact that the construction sector is facing a perfect storm, citing the skills shortage, material scarcity and increases in material costs as well as changes in the legislative and regulatory landscape. Now we are facing an energy crisis and the skills shortage is being compounded by the lowest rates of unemployment since records began. With so much pressure on construction companies, it’s easy to start to put things off, but there are things that whilst they may not seem to be critical for the now, I would question, can we afford to put them off?

With so many challenges facing all of us, everyone is time sparse at the moment. We find ourselves in a situation where we are having to ‘triage’ work i.e., what is critical to get done. The issue is that many things that are being pushed into the ‘it will have to wait’ pile because they are deemed not important, or nice to have but not critical, are in the long term essential.

The time to change

The problem is we can only put them into the not urgent pile for so long. Much of this is around change – whether that is change of process or change of mindset. All too often change is driven by regulation. This is simply the stick that forces us to change and often the regulatory change is to drive performance and improve the buildings we are delivering. However, there are plenty of other examples that are not regulatory driven. Take for example the new construction digital product identification systems that have been launched – they have been driven by the Hackitt report but not enforced by legislation. But they are the right thing to do.

However, why do we always wait for the moment when we have to change rather than changing when we know it is the right thing to do?

Often the excuse being tabled is around ‘I’ll change when I have to change’ – I’m aware of a housing scheme being delivered by two housebuilders. One has decided that they will not use fossil fuels at all so are installing air source heat pumps, the other has said they will install gas boilers up until the cut-off date in 2025 and then change. The reason – it’s too complicated to change now, we will change when we have to change.

First movers

With change, we sometimes require first movers. These first movers are the businesses that are doing the right thing, making changes because it is the right thing to do, rather than waiting to be forced to change. Typically, others then follow, often slowly. These first movers should be commended – but we need the masses to follow.

I totally understand that change costs – in terms of time, resources and overall monetary value. But change is a good thing. Change drives improvement. We all need to weather the storm and find ways to drive change now. We simply can’t wait until we are forced to change.


The above blog has also been published in ABC+D magazine.  Click here to view the publication.

Author: David Ing

Managing Director

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