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Clients to be asked to help assess design quality

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Objective evaluations of the design quality of built projects are to be promoted by the UK's largest clients. At a closed meeting of top industry representatives last week, the Construction Round Table developed the next stage of its 'Agenda for Change' in three groups, examining design, the trading process, and the delivery process.

On the design side, Simon Murray of BAA, who is chair of the Construction Round Table, said, 'We need to get objective measures of customers' and ultimate users' opinions of buildings in use.' While the construction industry seems notoriously bad at doing this, 'members of the CRT do this all the time from a business point of view'. Organisations like BAA and McDonald's should be able to harness their skills to this new task.

Standardisation was another area, said Murray, 'where we need a real, practical approach. So much has been written but we need a very basic practical approach to tackle the cultural change that is needed'. Many suppliers were not used to being asked to supply standard components and, said Murray, 'we need to do a lot to understand how standard components go together'. One of CRT's projects will be to count all the components that go into one specific project.

On the delivery side, CRT is looking at waste in terms of all four inputs to a project: people; materials and energy; plant; and information. 'A lot of information is wasted, ' said Murray. In relationships where there is trust between client and supplier, much of this material can be eliminated. For example, Yorkon, which supplies prefabricated building units to McDonald's, has an almost paper-free relationship with the client.

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