Call for construction regulatory body: Office of Construction
Rudi Klein, chief executive of the Specialist Engineering Contractors’ Group highlighted the potential benefits of a regulatory body for the construction sector.
Speaking that the 2019 BESA Conference, Klein said: “We are in desperate need of an Office of Construction to drive change.”
He pointed to other industry such as communications and water which have regulatory bodies of this kind. Klein believes that such an organisation would help to ensure regulatory compliance which is not happening universally at the moment.
“Why would you comply with regulations when your competitors don’t,” he asked. His seminar also highlighted how many times the industry has been asked to change and improve, to no avail.
“There have been more than 15 reports on the construction sector in the last two years since October 2016. There are too many vested interests in the industry and we all know about them. These interests are anti-change,” he said.
If the industry is going to improve performance and make investments in digital technology, explained Klein, then ‘cash needs to flow’.
There are competence schemes in the construction industry, but clients are not using them. “The schemes for competence exist, but we need to get clients to use them. They won’t do it because it costs money. Companies in our sector who comply with competence schemes cost more than those that don’t,” said Klein.
Klein explained that for him, a regulatory body would provide a national framework for competence – and police it. “We could kick out companies that don’t meet the criteria, so that if they are not accredited they can’t operate.”
This, he believes, is central to avoiding other disasters like Grenfell in the future: “What we know about Grenfell is that it was least-cost all the way. It was about driving down price and that’s harder to do if all companies are competent.”
Photography: Edwin Ladd