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Smaller firms improve image

The Considerate Constructors Scheme has thrown its doors open to SMEs in a bid to drive a more positive perception of the construction industry among clients and the general public

The construction industry still has an image problem which is often, somewhat unfairly, directed at smaller firms. We all know of the reality TV peddlers who present building as being scruffy, immoral and a rip-off.

One body which is trying to improve perceptions is the Considerate Constructors Scheme, which has been around since Sir Michael Latham’s ‘Constructing the Team’ in 1994. It is currently available to projects lasting six weeks or more, or for firms with a turnover of more than £2.5 million.

As the CCS website says: “If all sites presented an image of competent management, efficiency, awareness of local environmental issues and, above all, neighbourliness, then every site would become a positive advertisement, not just for itself, but for the industry.”

It helps a firm by trying to raise perceptions of construction and giving contact numbers of those involved. As of last month, there were more than 34,000 sites registered.

Contact with the public

And now plans are afoot to roll the scheme out to smaller sites, which could include private housebuilders, refurbishment and maintenance firms. These are a huge part of the industry and one which, arguably, has more contact with the public. A pilot is underway, with the aim of opening it up to the rest of the industry in the summer.

Edward Hardy, chief executive of the scheme, says: “We’ve been very conscious that we haven’t signed up these types of sites before.It gives firms a competitive edge.”

One company involved with the CCS trial is Sutherland Building Services, a contractor specialising in fit-out, refurbishment and external works.

Its jobs are worth £100,000 to £1.5 million and are mainly in central London. It wanted to get involved to help improve the industry’s image, and some clients had asked if the firm could be part of the scheme.

Policy for all sites

“I wanted a blanket policy for all my sites,” says director Ray Murphy, who first heard of the scheme while working at Bovis.

“I wanted my managers to consider all aspects of the environment. The reputation of the industry has been quite poor.”

But he believes it may not be easy to get people to change how they behave: “It’s sometimes difficult to get guys to be conscious. They come from a rough-and-ready environment.”

He adds that his less experienced site managers are very keen to be involved with CCS, but “the people who have done it for years might not. Some people have run sites for 30 years in an instinctive way and they need to be reminded to consider x or y.”

Another firm keen to register for the scheme is general contractor BDIC, which works on private homes in south Yorkshire. Managing director Steven Shaw hopes that taking part will help it to get on council tender lists.

“We are always pushing forward to try new ideas, as a business,” he says. “CCS shows what kind of business you are and we were keen to be a part of that. It will be good to have people scrutinise us.” The company has just been accredited by Investors In People.

Rydon, a contractor based in East Sussex, which turns over £200 million a year, is hoping to register its maintenance business, which looks after around 25,000 homes. Ian Watkinson, a director, has used the eight parts of the code to contribute towards 18 key performance indicators the company has set itself.

“The problem that maintenance companies have is comparing themselves with each other. We can say all sorts of things that we do. But it’s quite difficult to find a way to measure ourselves. CCS is a recognised industry measure. It’s the third party auditor, which is the best thing,” he says.

So with smaller firms and sites being able to take part in the scheme, a positive image of the industry may start to become a reality.

What ‘s new?

  • Firms with a turnover of up to £2.5 million will be able to register for the ‘company’ scheme (as opposed to the existing ‘site’ scheme, where firms register individual sites) from July. It will also allow companies with a turnover of more than £2.5 million to register their sites lasting fewer than six weeks.
  • Registration costs (plus VAT)
    - up to 10 sites: £500
    - 11-30 sites: £850
    - 31-60 sites: £1,000
    - 60-100 sites: £1,400
    - more than 100 sites: £2,000
  • More information at

What the cc s scheme expect s from companies

A CCS monitor will visit a firm’s head office and do site visits - the number depends on how many sites a firm runs. Companies are scored out of five for each of the measures below:

  • Considerate Positive consideration should be given to the needs of businesses, site personnel, visitors and the general public. Special attention is to be given to the needs of those with sight, hearing and mobility difficulties.
  • Cleanliness All sites to be kept clean and in good order. Site facilities maintained to a good standard. Surplus materials and rubbish should not be allowed to accumulate. Dirt and dust should be kept to a minimum.
  • Environment Minimise as far as possible the effects of noise, light and air pollution. Select and use local resources wherever possible. Reuse and recycle materials where possible.
  • Good neighbour Regular communication with neighbours and businesses regarding programming and site activities from pre-start to completion.
  • Respectful Respectable and safe standards of dress should be maintained. Lewd or derogatory behaviour and language should not be tolerated. Pride in the management and appearance of sites and environment is to be shown. Operatives should be instructed in how to properly deal with the general public.
  • Safe Construction operations and vehicle movements to be carried out with consideration for the safety of site personnel, visitors and the general public.
  • Responsible Ensure that everyone associated with your company and site understands and complies with this code.
  • Accountable Scheme posters are to be displayed, clearly visible to the public, on each site covered by the company registration.

Contact details should be included on the poster.