The latest impressions of the industry

The Considerate Constructors Scheme recently commissioned Lychgate Projects Ltd to carry out a survey in order to gauge the general public’s views of the construction industry. This is the third consecutive year that the Scheme has worked with Lychgate in order to identify issues and understand the perceptions of the public regarding the construction industry within the UK.

good-neighbour

Research with the general public was carried out by means of a consumer omnibus panel, where questions were put by telephone to a nationally representative sample of over 1,000 people. This survey provided useful information on the attitude towards the industry for benchmarking purposes, and allows the Scheme to monitor how the public’s perception is changing over time.

The Scheme, with its mission to improve the image of construction, is pleased to announce that the public’s overall impression of the construction industry has improved significantly from a rating of 5.5 out of 10 in 2009 to 6.2 in 2010.

Those interviewed who had a particularly positive impression of the construction industry have risen from 31% in 2009 to 40% in 2010.

 
One of the key questions put to the respondents each year is ‘what is the most annoying thing about the construction industry?’ and, while the same issues that appeared in 2009 have appeared again in 2010, it is gratifying to see that the number of people affected by these issues has fallen in nearly every area highlighted.

Delays caused by traffic (34% down from 37% in 2009), construction vehicles and cars parked around sites (32% down from 39%), mud and dust around sites (25% down from 30%), poor pedestrian routes around sites (25% down from 27%) and noise (23% down from 30%) were the top five issues raised by the respondents. While it is clear that the participants of the survey were less annoyed about the above points than in 2009, there is clearly still room for improvement.

When asked the question ‘what causes the most inconvenience to the public?’, roadworks came out on top with the highest percentage of people claiming this was the one area causing the most inconvenience. Over the last 3 surveys, this issue has increasingly become the most inconvenient for the general public. However, other issues which have reoccurred over the last 3 surveys, such as domestic builders working in house extensions and tradesmen, were less inconvenient to the public in 2010 against the previous two years.

Whilst conducting this work, Lychgate also contacted over 2,000 members of the construction industry to establish their views and opinions regarding the Scheme and the industry as a whole. The survey found that over the past 3 years, the proportion of contractors and clients who register all their sites with the Scheme has increased. One of the reasons behind this rise is due to the fact that an increasing number of contractors have implemented a policy which makes registration with the Scheme a mandatory requirement. This demonstrates that the Scheme plays an important role for contractors who feel the Scheme adds real value to the business and assists in the mission of improving the image of construction.

Even though company policy may require mandatory registration, a large proportion of contractors commented that registration with the Scheme demonstrates the site’s willingness to go the ‘extra mile’, adds value to the business and complements their corporate social responsibility agenda, whilst becoming more considerate neighbours at the same time. For clients, the main reason for requesting contractors to register with the Scheme is so that there is a consistent means of monitoring standards on site. Scheme Monitors visit every registered site at least once, depending on their registration value, to determine a site’s level of compliance against the Scheme’s Code of Considerate Practice. A scored report is then produced by the Monitor which can be used as a benchmarking exercise to assess that site’s performance against others.

When contractors were asked to identify the main benefits of registering with the Scheme in 2010 and its importance to their company, where 1 is not at all important and 10 is very important, better relations with the public was the most highly rated with an average of 8.4. When clients were asked the same question, the same benefit was also rated the highest at an average of 8.5. This suggests that the Scheme plays an important role in developing better relations between a site and the general public. The second most highly rated benefit for both parties was also the implementation of better site practices than otherwise would have been achieved.

The Scheme produces a guide called ‘Site Registration Examples of Good Practice’ (please click on the image on the left to view this brochure) which lists specific initiatives and activities, witnessed by Scheme Monitors, that are considered examples of good practice.

The third most highly rated benefit for contractors was improving the environment whereby clients believed it to be improved standards of the management of sites.

According to both contractors and clients, the greatest beneficiary of the Scheme in 2010 continues to be the general public.

Following on from this, both groups also believed the industry in general benefits from a site being registered compared to one that isn’t registered. The third best rated group to benefit both contractors and clients were the clients. Contractors felt that their clients benefitted from a registered site while the clients also believed they too received a benefit from having a registered site compared to one that isn’t.

Interestingly, when both groups were asked about the general public’s impression of the construction industry, both contractors and clients perceived the general public’s impression as more negative than it actually is. When contractors and clients were asked how they think the public viewed construction, they gave it an average score of 5.7 and 5.5 respectively, but the actual rating the general public gave the industry was an average of 6.2.

Both surveys, one of which focused on the views of the general public and the other focused on contractors and clients, produced some interesting and valuable information. The Scheme plans to use this information to improve the service it offers to both the construction industry and the general public.