November 25, 2008|Kim's Blog, Lawyers, Marketing, Property|

Three things happen when you are the child of a QS (quantity surveyor). 1. You spend a lot of time walking around building sites 2. You acquire an innate distrust of architects and 3. You learn a lot about the construction industry.

As a consultant I have worked with some of the largest construction companies in the world (eg Vinci), with some of the largest and smallest property developers and a host of construction professionals – civil engineers, mechanical and electrical engineers, project managers and, of course, quantity surveyors. I have also had the pleasure of working with one of the UK’s leading barristers chambers in construction (Keating Chambers) and worked with more construction solicitors than you could shake a hod at.

But the construction industry is in such deep trouble right now that it is hard to find something to bring a smile to your face.

So you can imagine my surprise and delight that whilst waiting to run a training session at a firm of solicitors today in Bristol I was browsing through the usual reception array of brochures, newsletters, legal updates and other promotional material when I came upon a real treasure.

This fabulous, compact and beautifully designed booklet is modestly called “Construction – a basic guide”. But in all my years of working in construction I have never found such a simple, clear, comprehensive and really good introduction to the procurement process. From the concept, through the roles of the various advisers, the design process, tendering, the building contract and procurement routes and through all the standard contracts (it took me ages to understand what a JCT was!). There were even helpful sections on common issues in construction disputes, the pros and cons of the various dispute resolution methods and what to do if you receive a construction claim. A really subtle but valuable sell.

I wish I had had this guide handy over the years when getting the various suppliers, advisers and marketers up to speed with the construction industry. And how useful would this guide be to a senior business person in a corporation who is faced with his or her first construction project – for example, for a new head office. I will be sending copies of this guide to a number of people…

About 20 years ago, I remember a great lawyer (in the pensions market at Nabarro) telling me that the sign of a true expert was the ability to convey in the very simplest terms some of the most complex ideas. He advocated de-mystifying the legal process.

I also remember the big fuss I faced when I suggested to a large surveying firm about ten years ago that they produce a simple guide to commercial property investment. The investment agents (a bit like the corporate lawyers in a legal practice) were the king of the jungle and thought that a simple guide would be pointless. That guide had to be reprinted countless times – such was it’s value to a range of existing and potential clients and referrers.

Anyway. I just wanted to say a huge, appreciative “Thanks” to the construction lawyers and their marketing/business development professionals at beachcroft – it is good to see such a fantastic piece of marketing from such a simple idea executed so well. I hope that is a huge success for you.