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Top contractors deal a blow to best value

Ideas of Egan and Latham ignored as firms cling to old-fashioned practices

MAIN contractors are ignoring the best value principles of Egan and Latham, according to a damning new survey.

Building services specialist Hills Electrical and Mechanical commissioned the report, which found that the majority of main contractors are still adopting the short-term view and buying on price rather than partnering and forming long-term relationships.

Hills managing director David Hill said: 'The reluctance of main contractors to accept tenders that are not the lowest price, but may offer the client better value, shows how little progress the industry has made - despite the Latham Report, the Egan study and other 'best practice' initiatives.'

When asked how many times in the past three months they had accepted a tender that was not the lowest price, only 10 per cent of main contractors claimed to have done so more than twice.

More than 40 per cent said they had not accepted a single M&E tender that was not the lowest price in the previous three months, while nearly 25 per cent said they had done so once or twice. And 6 per cent admitted to the antiLatham technique of Dutch auctioning M&E contracts.

The survey also revealed a surprisingly low-take-up among contractors of Constructionline as a source of qualified M&E contractors. About 42 per cent never required firms to be on the database before inviting them to tender.

Mr Hill said: 'We have been on Constructionline for a couple of years and never got work from it.

'I had hoped it would become the single source of qualified contractors, as that would save us a lot of time in pre-qualification. Main contractors that require subcontractors to be both on Constructionline and pre-qualify are trying to have their cake and eat it.'

But Constructionline director Chris Leggett hit back at the claims, saying Hills' records had been accessed 31 times over the past 18 months and that the company had appeared on 32 select lists generated online by public sector organisations using the database.

He added: 'There are still clients who continue to send out pre-qualification questionnaires. In many cases, they are unwilling to make that leap of faith.'