I LOGGED on to the Construction News website the other day and my computer nearly popped a diode.
Readers were feverishly voting for their Champion of the Decade and Project of the Decade. And before you say 'we're only halfway through the decade' I should point out that we're talking about the 10 years since the Construction News Quality in Construction Awards were launched.
Once my computer had cooled down sufficiently, I thought about casting my own votes. But how could I choose just one each from this shortlist of brilliant individuals and stunning projects?
The more I looked at them, the more I thought of other people and other projects, all equally deserving.
So I decided to ignore the official shor tlists and f ind my own personal champion and project of the decade.
In the end I had to choose the Floor in My Downstairs Loo as my project, since I did it myself and it's not half bad. It was a brilliant example of teamwork and supply chain management. Client leadership was exemplary ? but then as the main cont ractor I have an ongoing framework agreement with the client.
I'm married to her.
I got my key suppliers (two blokes at the local builders' merchant and the lady behind the desk at the hire shop) on board at the concept design stage. It took a while to get them all to 'buy in' to the partnering ethos but in the end their input was invaluable. They soon got the hang of value-engineering solutions (for example, the low-vibration breaker, though more expensive than a pick-axe, offered long-term productivity benefits and a hugely improved health and safety record).
The client-contractor relationship was totally nonadversarial (though there were one or two cross words when I accidentally chipped the handbasin).
I totally acknowledged my suppliers' need to make a decent profit on the project and all transactions were open-book: the final account was settled even before practical completion.
I am now negotiating with the client for Phase 2 of the project, namely the design-build contract for a new floor in the kitchen. If successful, I will be taking the same construction team with me and fully expect to implement the lessons learned in Phase 1.
That still left me looking for my Champion of the Decade. For a while it was a toss-up between John Prescott and Bob the Builder, both of whom have left an indelible splodge on the construction industry.
But in the end I chose Neval, 21, from London (dark eyes, dark hair and underwear ? well, pants at least, ? from Stringfellows).
Neval was a surprise winner, but then she only entered the frame last week when she appeared on Page 3 of The Sun to issue a fierce and uncompromising indictment of construction worst practice and make trenchant and insightful observations upon issues at the very heart of the construction industry's malaise.
Noting that workers on the troubled Wembley Stadium project were taking cannabis and cocaine, Neval said: 'How will it ever get built on time if they're getting high? It's disgusting.
They're already months behind schedule. Those taking cannabis and cocaine should be fired.' This girl has been taking an interest ? more than that, she has passionate views on the subject. It is remarkable that she is prepared to bare her soul (and her thorax) in order to bring these matters before a wider public.
We need more people like her in construction, we really do.