When it comes to specifying buildings materials and products for construction projects and developments, it is really important that everyone throughout the industry, from architects and contractors to manufacturers, engage in honest and open discussions in order to achieve a true understanding of how each sectors works to get the best results.
In recent years, the construction industry has seen a lot of change, both in the way we use materials and how they are specified. We have reached an important threshold where it is more important than ever to find a balance between competitiveness and collaboration. Specifiers and contractors therefore need to work together in order to improve specification outcomes for all parties involved.
Nowadays it is easy to get caught up in the promotional side to sustainability. Campaigns around sustainable projects and products can sometimes distort the true meaning of sustainability. In actual fact, the environmental credentials of a building and its specification depend on individual client requirements, BREEAM ratings and costs.
From a specifier's perspective, the challenge lies in ensuring that the design element of a specification works on a practical level too when cost is scrutinised in the tendering process. A designer wants to provide quality buildings, both aesthetically and practically, but is often forced to alter recommendations to fall in line with cost constraints. At the end of the day, specification depends on the outcomes of the tendering stage, as contractors are often appointed on best price, which sometimes results in a change in specification, as developers try to regain some of the costs lost during the tendering negotiations.
Specifiers are totally reliant on manufacturers efficiently responding to demand, but in order for manufacturers to invest in product development, they need to be confident that there is a market for the product. It is therefore the responsibility of the contractors and specifiers to make the manufacturer aware of that demand. This is why communication is so crucial in the construction industry, and a collaborative approach is one of the more effective ways of creating a high quality, sustainable built environment.