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What’s the best way to judge the market?

As market cycles turn onwards, there is one surefire way to tell that the market is growing and we’re in the grip of a capacity problem: check the number of desks at a construction management firm.

The fortunes of construction management businesses tell a wider story about the industry as a whole.

“With the emergence of a ‘seller’s market’ for construction services, so emerged an increasing need for cost certainty for clients”

As the industry grows and retracts and market conditions shift, the procurement and contract management processes that appeal to developers change.

This latest boom in construction saw Capita’s construction management business Woolf see a huge growth in interest and work in 2015. My colleagues elsewhere in the industry tell a similar story.

With a growing industry and the emergence of a ‘seller’s market’ for construction services, so emerged an increasing need for cost certainty for clients. The same was true in the early 2000s and further back in the mid-80s.

When capacity across the industry becomes limited, the risk profile of development changes, and a single construction manager contractor become the most viable option.

This latest growth in clients and work tells us the industry’s confidence has risen since 2014 – and that this seller’s market is emerging again for consultants of all types.

Model variety

Regardless of the commercial context, there will always be a need for different models of building out a development – there will always be space for both design-and-build and construction management.

Specific projects will always need a specialist touch.

The existing models will also always flex and change as market conditions vary – our practice today doesn’t operate how it did in 2004, and I’m sure it will look different again in two or five years’ time.

“Construction management agents are the perfect people to manage the BIM process”

This time, however, we’re seeing one new benefit emerge.

The increasingly extensive use of the construction management model has led to a realisation – at least among some clients – that the method is perfect for furthering and expanding the BIM agenda.

Perfect fit

With a single point of contact managing all subcontractors, construction management agents are the perfect people – if their organisation has the expertise – to manage the BIM process.

This central point of contact means BIM data from each contractor is independently audited and reviewed, providing a higher level of assurance for the final BIM model than can be provided through alternative strategies.

As the government’s BIM agenda moves forward with increasing pace, it will become increasingly important that construction management develop the requisite skillset to keep up.

Mike Maxwell is director of construction management at Capita’s property and infrastructure business

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