How to make good money in construction in the UK?

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

A widely acknowledged fact in the UK is that construction workers are notorious for their bad spending habits. Consider the basic nutrition of a construction worker – bacon roll for breakfast, fish and chips for lunch. In an industry with such a heavy male workforce, laden with advertising from betting shops, it’s easy to see why the ‘few pints after work’ habit is so prominent. An ingrained ‘live-for-today’ attitude and relentless physical work causes many workers to ignore health problems until they seriously affect quality of life. It is important for construction workers to have financial motivation, to devalue the live-for-today attitude, and consider the health and safety of both their career and personal life. Earning good money often requires a major change in lifestyle and thinking, but with the right mentality, it is an achievable target for all.

Construction is an industry that involves a lot of risk. The uncertain nature of work demand and the high risk of injury make it important for manual workers to have good financial protection. Job security is lower in construction than in most other industries. Building work is easily affected by external factors such as bad weather or changes in government legislation. Temporary company workers will find it easier to deal with job loss if they have a makeshift legal employment status, and are enhancing their main income with self-employed evening and weekend work. Self-employed workers always need financial back-up to endure times of injury or illness when they cannot work. All workers should save money for retirement. Failure to take precautionary financial measures can have disastrous consequences. High-risk takers may always be thinking to increase their financial status with a grand investment or business opportunity.

Construction is also an industry with a high rate of self-employment. Almost every tradesman is familiar with the idea of being ‘self-employed’. This is an industry where it is relatively easy to start and run a business. New housing is the most obvious sector for self-employed workers. Having a trade like bricklaying, plastering or woodwork enables workers to work on day-rate sub-contracts for building companies.

Construction is the UK’s biggest industry. It employs a huge number of skilled and unskilled workers and it contributes significantly to the country’s GDP. The output of the UK construction industry is over £110 billion.

1.1. Overview of the construction industry in the UK

There is a positive future for the UK construction industry. It is expected to grow by 2.9% annually, and it is estimated that there will be 13,200 new job openings each year through to 2020. With the expected retirement of a significant portion of the current workforce, there will be many opportunities for new entrants to the construction industry. This should provide a degree of job security within the construction industry. The industry spans both the public and private sectors, and there are good opportunities within all the many construction sub-sectors. It has also been said that construction workers in the UK are among the highest paid in Europe, with plenty of opportunity to earn good money. This is obviously a strong incentive for those who are beginning to consider a career in construction. Earning a good wage in a stable industry is a very important start to success in life. Overall, the construction industry offers good long-term prospects for those willing to work hard.

Construction is one of the UK’s largest sectors and offers good opportunities for those who want to succeed in life. The construction industry is essential in the country’s economic health and upkeep to maintain the welfare state. The UK construction industry has an annual output of around £110 billion and directly employs 2.1 million people. There are also over 400,000 self-employed firms within the construction sector. Despite the recent economic downturn, the construction industry has remained strong. It is also important to point out that the UK construction industry is highly fragmented. There are in excess of 300,000 construction companies, and over 70% of firms are one-person self-employed businesses.

1.2. Importance of making good money in construction

The construction industry in the UK is prevalent, to say the least. Even though it has declined in recent years and has taken an impact on the economy, there is no doubt that it is still the most essential industry in the UK, being the second largest employer and also accounting for around 10% of the GDP. The construction industry is known for its good wages and fast cash, and in today’s society, making money and the ability to make it quickly is more important than ever. Money is essential to everybody regardless of their job or position, but making good money is the first priority of most, if not all, employees. It is a common belief that higher pay equals a higher standard of living, and in order to achieve the best quality of life for ourselves and our families, construction workers need to be able to make a good living from their job. Money is a motivation and incentive for people to work harder and to achieve greater things, and this is no different in the construction industry. Although construction has declined, there are still plenty of people working within the industry and are scheduled to work in the future; these workers will need to try and make a living during harsh times of construction, and a strong wage will be the best way to achieve this. Making good money in construction not only benefits the workers but also their families and others around them. Money earned by workers is usually spent in the economic cycle and gives life to other markets. An example could be a construction worker gaining a large wage and spending the money on home improvements; this will benefit other workers in the construction industry and will also benefit workers from markets of products being bought from the high earners in construction. This spending can help grow the economy and develop other markets, creating a knock-on effect from money earned in construction.

2. Developing Skills and Expertise

Construction industry has been evolving and so does the skill set required to be successful in the field. The days when a general labor could progress to site management are slowly disappearing, robust project management methods and a dynamic industry now require a multi-skilled individual to negotiate a successful career path. With the shortage in skill becoming increasingly apparent in the construction industries, there has been higher demand for skilled workers due to skill gaps and labor shortages. One example is a survey conducted by CITB showed a growing concern for specific occupation shortages in the upcoming year ranging from scaffolders, bricklayers, and site managers. Nearly half of the companies in the UK have reported turning down new business due to insufficient workforce. This acts as a great positive for any individual aiming to develop skills and expertise as many employers realize the value in employees with more experience and qualifications. This has thereby increased the level of pay for skilled workers compared to the average pay for all employee jobs as shown in the table below. The table above shows pay for specific jobs by the level of experience an individual has. It identifies a pattern in which the more experience and developed skills an individual has, the higher chance of a higher pay. This is often the case as a more experienced and skilled worker may take less time completing a particular task relative to a less experienced worker doing the same task, and the margin of errors in the work done would be less, also saving time and needed rework. This can equate to several employers wanting to pay higher for a skilled worker knowing that it will save a lot of money and time in the future.

2.1. Acquiring relevant qualifications and certifications

Education is key to progress in the performance fields in the UK. It is considered as a fundamental road to accomplish recompense, high status, and security. People have a tendency to feel confounded about specifying the right capabilities required to procure great measures of cash working in development. As it is said, “earning is straightforward when you realize what must be gained.” Indecisive methodology in instruction regularly prompts squandered time and cash. Keep in mind time is cash! Here we will alert you on the best way to act with a target. Look at the anticipated compensation for the occupation wanted and check how that thinks about to your present or future lifestyles. Instructions to meet all requirements for a development administrator and what’s in store from the part – Contractor Money selected the assistance from CITB, a man in the know. Step by step instructions to meet all requirements for a development supervisor, it is shrewd to begin with a specific end goal to accomplish the most astounding rank. Seeking after A levels in subjects, for example, arithmetic, structural planning, and science might be valuable. On the other hand, qualification through higher training by means of BTEC HNC/HND both modern and building related. Student positions differ in the middle of sandwich and degree learners. Experienced graduates will start as an assistant venture administrator. In spite of prominent supposition, a degree is not a fundamental necessity to turn into a prepared manufacturer or site administrator, be that as it may, it might give preference in the occupation market and set.

2.2. Gaining practical experience through apprenticeships or internships

An apprenticeship is a system of training a new generation of practitioners of a trade or profession with on-the-job training and often some accompanying study (classroom work and reading). Apprenticeship also enables practitioners to gain a license to practice in a regulated profession. Most of their training is done while working for an employer who helps the apprentices learn their trade or profession, in exchange for their continued labor for an agreed period. This can be on a place by employers, and can take anywhere from 1 to 6 years. This model can be dual address, where on and off the job or service provider based training method can be delivered. This enables an apprentice to gain a national trade certificate. Many 14- to 24-year-olds in the European Union, when leaving education, undertake an apprenticeship, and also for existing employees. An internship is a method of on-the-job training for white-collar and professional careers. Internships for professional careers are similar to those in other professions. They can be part-time or full-time and are usually flexible. The majority of internships are in areas such as science, engineering, medicine, research, and IT. Internship programs are designed to allow foreign college and university students or recent graduates to come to the United Kingdom to gain exposure to UK culture and to receive hands-on experience in their chosen field. Internships in the UK vary in length depending on the industry, however, they are typically one year long. The intern or the employer may choose to end an internship early for any reason. By the end of the internship, the intern is usually assured that there will be a position for them which will begin after they graduate.

2.3. Continuous learning and staying updated with industry trends

There are a variety of ways to learn in construction, from apprenticeship programs to learning on the job from a more experienced person. The nature of the construction industry lends itself to on-the-job training, but with increasing technological complexities across all construction market sectors, formal education and training are becoming more important. High school level construction classes or labor union apprenticeship programs are seen as the best entry into the workforce. This type of apprentice learns the tricks of the trade, both in the classroom and out, from those who have been successful in the field. A number of two-year programs and apprenticeships earning associate degrees in construction management, or a specific trade, are now being offered at a multitude of community colleges and trade schools. These are proving to be beneficial as well, as those in the workforce seek to learn new things without having to take time off of work to do so. With the increasing possibilities of internet-based learning, there are now many viable options in getting a construction education online. This method is widely about knowledge, but neither a degree nor diploma in hand, it is often not the best as internet credibility can be uncertain at times.

The construction industry changes fairly rapidly, with varying changes such as new technologies, regulations, and best practices. Construction professionals are becoming more aware of the importance of education and constant learning as being a key to a satisfying and successful career. Whether it’s to gain a higher income, increased job security, to keep up with the Jones’, or just a better feeling about your work, taking the time to educate oneself in construction will result in a win-win situation. So what are the options available?

3. Building a Strong Professional Network

It is often said that it’s not what you know, but who you know, and the impact of networking in the job search process is more relevant now than ever. Making connections to find job opportunities is the most obvious reason for students and professionals alike to network. Many jobs aren’t posted online or in the paper and are instead filled through word of mouth. Getting a recommendation for a job from a connection increases the chance of getting hired, and a lot of times having a connection within a company can alert you of job openings that aren’t public knowledge. An individual is also more likely to be hired if they have already established a relationship with the employer through their network.

Joining a professional organization or association tailored to your line of work will help you to become a part of the community and industry. It immediately surrounds you with people that have similar career interests and gives direction to the sorts of events to attend. There are a wide variety of social events within those associations as well, which are great places to start building a network. Becoming active in the organization by taking a leadership role or involving yourself in committees and discussions will certainly give others the opportunity to get to know you and increase the chance of making valuable connections.

Attending industry events and conferences, which often feature seminars with some of construction’s most influential individuals, is a great way to build a professional network. Whether it’s a local builder’s exchange meeting, a seminar sponsored by a professional association, or a national conference, there are always opportunities to meet other professionals in the field. Creating a network takes time, so one must select events that will put you in touch with the kinds of people he wants to meet. Networking can also occur by getting to know the speaker or presenters after their presentations, as they are typically leaders in their field. Helping out with presenting the lectures or seminars is an even better way to make connections, as there is a set amount of time to spend with the other individuals involved in the presentation.

3.1. Attending industry events and conferences

When it comes to making money in the construction industry, one of the most effective ways to progress in your career and your company is by attending industry events and conferences. These events can provide valuable information about new techniques and products available and provide a great opportunity to meet potential clients and other professionals. By talking to other contractors and learning about their experiences, you can gain knowledge about which types of jobs are the most lucrative and how to go about getting them. Although it may be tempting to focus solely on making money and servicing your existing clients, neglecting the wealth of information available at these events is a missed opportunity to advance your company to the next level. A small investment converting traveling and registration expenses of one of these events can payoff greatly in the long run.

3.2. Joining professional organizations and associations

Some professional associations exist in the UK construction industry,” says Fenwick. These often provide access to employees, services, and resources that are not otherwise possible. Access to these unique resources leads to increased knowledge about new jobs, tenders, and clients. Also, providing a chance to learn from the experiences of others in a similar career. The additional knowledge and information gained can lead to improved decision making and the avoidance of mistakes that would reduce project profitability. Many associations also provide affiliation with local master builders groups which can provide further resources and business. An additional benefit is simply having the opportunity to make contacts and friends which can provide a support network for the duration of a builder’s career. This type of affiliation can give business a reputation and image that can lead to gaining desirable clients and projects. Austen explains how joining the masters’ federation has been advantageous for his company. “We are able to acquire a contract checking service which allows us to get professionals to analyze contracts and select preferable ones.” This is an example of a service and resource available through a professional association that has greatly benefited a company. Increased income and profit from projects is obviously a direct way money can be made in the industry, accessing the profitable projects is the main difficulty. In the long term, access to more profitable projects can be the most important way to increase an individual or company income in the construction industry. Over a thirty-year career, a builder that is able to get 20% more on his contracts because of improved marketing and reputation has essentially doubled his take-home pay. This principle is crucial for a company with employees that has to provide competitive wages and steady work. Building a stronger network and accessing more profitable projects is the best way to make this happen.

3.3. Networking with colleagues, clients, and suppliers

The ultimate level of credibility in the eyes of a client is the builder’s reputation previous work for that client or for someone the client knows. If a contractor is selected for having satisfied the client’s friend with a similar project, trust has already been established. To get a firm like this, a builder will need to network indirectly by maintaining professionalism and providing high-quality work at a reasonable price. Assuming an established trust, the builder need only ensure the client’s continued satisfaction and encourage the client to recommend the builder to that client’s own friends. This method essentially snowballs into progressively higher levels of revenue with better and better clients. Step one, however, may first require the builder to seek clients of more direct impact on the industry. A new home builder, for example, might find it worthwhile to get in touch with real estate agents and land developers in efforts to establish a helpful business relationship.

While industry events and associations tend to offer more direct contact with potential business leads, much networking time must be invested there. For a company owner with a busy project schedule, the alternative of making direct contacts with present and potential clients can often be more feasible. Ultimately, a contractor’s objective is to select and obtain repeat business from an inarguably worthwhile client. In so doing, it is useful to first understand what the client views as credibility.

4. Specializing in Lucrative Construction Sectors

Construction sectors with limited competition are often niche markets that the industry is just beginning to venture into. An example of this is the green building sector. With increased awareness of environmental issues and the need to conserve energy, the use of sustainable building is predicted to grow rapidly over the next twenty years (ref. 8). Green builders work on projects that range from homes to large commercial buildings and the market encompasses everything from new construction to remodeling and major renovation. The added expenditure on “green” projects is often small in comparison to the long term energy savings and as market growth is expected to continue, green building is an area with high profit potential.

Identifying which sector to specialize in can have a major impact on the potential revenue of a construction business. Some factors to consider when selecting a sector include the effort required to break into the sector, the competition faced from other companies, the depth of the market, the market growth and the past and future projected earnings. Some of the areas that the UK Government has identified as being key to the economy, that are also expected to have high growth and therefore good career prospects include: public sector (especially health and education), infrastructure and the repair, maintenance and improvement of existing buildings and housing (ref. 7). These sectors are less likely to be affected by downturns in economic activity making future job prospects more secure.

4.1. Identifying high-demand sectors in the UK construction industry

Aggregating and providing EMM to better match manpower. The only construction sector with a real-time scheduling advancement is civil public works, and it is not yet comprehensive in all EMM. High across construction types, the residential sector has the highest rate of self-employment at almost 26%. At 22.92%, specialty trade contractors have a very high rate of self-employment and small business ownership. These self-employed individuals and small business owners may not have access to EMM due to the high costs versus it being an employee benefit with a larger company. At 17%, this workforce will find a difficult transition to new EMM without awareness and lower costs. The remaining workforce is employed by medium to large firms or government organizations, many of whom have access to EMM or will have legislation requiring them to use it in the near future.

4.2. Focusing on niche markets with limited competition

Some drawbacks are also associated with specializing in a niche market. The most obvious being safety in the current economic climate. Construction workers learn their trades through apprenticeships and other on-the-job experience, so it is vital that there is a steady flow of work available in order to train new operatives so that they can replace older workers when they retire. This can become difficult in a niche market if demand is low. A firm which is too highly specialized in a particular area may also be disadvantaged if the market becomes saturated or there is a downturn in the economic cycle. Being over-specialized can also lead to over-reliance on one or two major clients, who may change their loyalties without notice, leaving the contractor with no work.

Specializing in a niche market in the construction industry comes with many perceived benefits. Primarily, it offers the opportunity to operate in an environment which has limited competition, allowing firms to build a strong reputation in the industry relatively quickly. Within a niche market, a firm can become known as an expert in a certain field and can develop core competencies which distinguish it from its rivals. This can further lead to higher perceived value for clients as specialist contractors are often able to add a premium onto the price of their services. Building a strong reputation can often lead to a snowball effect in which word of mouth spreads and the firm is able to obtain more business through its reputation alone, rather than through costly promotional activities. By contrast, reputation in the wider construction industry can be difficult to build and maintain due to the vast number of competitors and clients who seek to drive down price by playing one contractor against another. In general, the reputation of contractors in the wider industry is quite poor. With many contractors failing to make significant profits, there are often compromises in quality as cost-cutting measures are utilized. This can lead to dissatisfaction for contractors who know they are capable of doing better work. By contrast, specialists in a specific niche will take pride in performing their work to a high standard.

4.3. Targeting projects with higher profit margins

It is important to consider the inherent risks associated with a project. The more risky a project is, the more money there should be in it. For example, heritage restoration is a rather risky endeavor due to the volatility of the structure and its importance to tourism. Therefore, the profit margins for such a job are often quite high. In contrast, a small-scale residential project is relatively low risk and therefore low margin. By assessing the level of risk on potential projects, a company can decide if they are capable of the work, and if the possible gains outweigh the possible losses. A risk assessment analysis should be carried out and then compared to the company’s own capabilities and risk tolerance.

4.3.1 Understanding the relationship between risk and margin

You don’t need me to tell you that profitability is an important factor in any attempt to make money. It makes sense that the larger the profit margin on a project, the more money there is to be made. However, higher profit margins often come with higher risk. It is not wise to choose high-margin projects that will force the company into insolvency if things go wrong. It is important to find a balance. Targeting a project with a profit margin that is also within your company’s capabilities is the key to successful profitable work.

5. Delivering High-Quality Workmanship

After securing a contract to carry out planned work, the most important factor to ensuring the work is priced correctly is to prepare an itemized quote listing details of materials, plant, labor, and a for the work. This may take some time but will be invaluable in the long term as the building of a fairly comprehensive cost library and is key to the production of an accurate quote or estimate in the future. An accurate, comprehensive estimate will usually be above what the client expects to pay, so it is crucial to explain the costs thoroughly to the client and ensure that there are no misunderstandings come invoicing time. If no misunderstandings occur, there is a high chance that the client will be happy to pay more for higher quality work in future contracts. High-quality workmanship starts and ends with productive, efficient work. A good standard of work is achievable by employing skilled labor with a good attitude to work, combined with implementing procedures and systems to ensure work is produced consistently to a good quality. High production standards and targets should be set, and the workforce should be focused daily on achieving these. These should not be too high as quality will be compromised in an attempt to meet the targets. Fully supervised work tends to be of higher quality as someone with a higher level of skill and experience is overseeing the work of those with less. This is beneficial as the supervisor can pass on his knowledge and expertise to his workers and also prevent the deterioration of quality due to errors being rectified in the wrong manner.

5.1. Ensuring exceptional craftsmanship and attention to detail

It is recommended that contractors have detailed specifications and a list of work to be accomplished in their contracts. The contract should be written to reflect exactly what the customer wants and the exact price and time frame. This will ensure that the customer is satisfied and that the contractor will be paid in full upon completion of the project. This should eliminate uncertainty during the project.

To the professional contractor, it seems that more and more homeowners have become armchair project managers. Yet most of them have never picked up a tool in their life. They watch these cable shows or know someone who has had work done and suddenly they are experts in the field. The problem is that many of these homeowners are the ones who will scrutinize the detailed work. They will look for the smallest imperfections and ruminate over them. This will lead to the contractor having to answer for things that traditionally were not even a concern, or were ways that the homeowners themselves had done the work.

This section is really about the everyday work of any type of contractor in the industry. Whether they are small or a large company, these are universal issues that generally every bid will revolve around.

5.2. Meeting or exceeding client expectations

In terms of the finished product, the classic “can you make it just…” and “while you’re here, can you just…” lines are the bane of many a builder’s life in terms of meeting client expectations, but clear communication and sometimes having to swallow your pride and accept doing that little bit extra for free will often bring about many recommendations and repeat business from very satisfied customers. And these service extras can be agreed from the offset, usually to raise the estimates of the initial task! Always look to achieve customer feedback and if it is positive, inquire as to whether they would be happy for you to use them as a reference for future jobs. It is also beneficial to take before and after photos of jobs that could be used for future customers both as a reference and as an exhibition of the high quality of your work.

The function of meeting and exceeding client expectations is at the core of delivering high quality work. On almost all occasions, clients will expect good service but what customers usually value even more than anything is good communication. In most cases, they will want to be clear about what you’re offering them, when they want to know when it will be done by, and how much it will cost them. By ensuring that these things are made clear and put in writing, which means making a contract, you are already on the right track to meeting their expectations. If you can go a step further and inform them of progress as the job goes on, they will generally warm to that. This could mean speaking to them informally, or going to the extent of providing a Gantt chart.

5.3. Building a reputation for excellence and reliability

The first step towards achieving this is to only take on work which can be completed to the highest standard possible. By trying to take on too much work, or work outside of the builder’s area of expertise, the quality of the finished product can suffer. This inevitably leads to dissatisfied customers and work which the builder is not proud of. Word of mouth is a powerful tool in the construction industry, and it can take just one poor job to significantly damage the builder’s reputation. For this reason, it is essential to know one’s limits and to only take on work that can be completed to a high standard, especially in the early stages of the builder’s career.

By delivering consistently high-quality workmanship, the contractor is well on the way to building a successful business. The builder should aim to become known for their quality work. He should strive to become the “expert builder” in his locality, i.e. whenever anyone needs building work done, his name is first on their list. Ultimately, he should aim to create a demand for his services, rather than being forced to seek out customers to obtain work. At this stage, he can afford to pick and choose the jobs he takes on, concentrating on higher margin work, thus increasing the success of the business even further.

6. Effective Project Management

But recent research in the UK has included work by the investigator on developing a more formal approach to the management of construction projects using a mixture of OR-based tools and computer simulation. The idea being to test the methodology on its application to real projects with participating companies. An aim of this work was to investigate if a “generic” formal approach could be developed for the concise management of a broad range of construction work. So for the task of planning and scheduling, the methodology has been developed into a “set of guidelines” for the project manager. This has been tested on construction management professionals to identify the quality of the strategic advice given. This aspect of the work was conducted with industry collaborators to check relevance against actual live projects as well as being an ongoing experiment by the investigator while teaching construction management to final year engineering students at the University.

In general, successful project management requires a thorough understanding of the construction process and a firm grasp of the planning and control required at each step. This is particularly true for large, complex, or long projects. For such projects, the traditional logic and experience-based “rules of thumb” no longer suffice. In fact, many contractors will freely admit that they do not have a detailed plan for how they will carry out their work. This is not surprising since you rarely see a project plan as a construction manager, shall we say, compared to the wealth of detail you would expect to see in a design or manufacturing plan. However, this does not mean that the construction manager does not have the knowledge in his head; it is just that it has not been transferred to paper.

6.1. Efficient planning and scheduling of construction projects

A clear plan of how to successfully accomplish the construction project can be set out, and when there are several ways in completing a task, a schedule can help decide the best alternative. Simulation can be employed and problems can be identified before the project is carried out. The schedule provides a basis for monitoring and control, identifying the variances from the original plan and the identification of alternative solutions.

The scheduling of construction projects can aid a number of different tasks for the easier management of the job and therefore can be an important management tool in deciding how the project will be carried out. The scheduling process creates a plan of the construction project, which involves preparing a sequence of tasks, determining the duration of the task, and how the task is going to be accomplished. It can identify the construction methods and constraints and can be used for resource allocation and planning the cash flow.

A schedule is a logic-based time management plan allocating resources for construction of facilities. All construction projects have an element of time, which, if the job has been subjected to an agreed completion date, time becomes a critical and the most important factor. According to the standing of the client and if financial rewards are obtained, ensuring the project is completed on time can determine its success. Therefore, it is important to effectively plan and schedule a project.

6.2. Controlling costs and optimizing resource allocation

In a construction business, it is extremely important to have a clear understanding of the costs and be able to control their outlay. The costs of a project are the key to a tender’s success, quite often the estimating is the easy bit, it is underestimating the cost that is the pitfall. If a project is to have any chance of being profitable, then the cost must be controlled. This is an essential aspect of cost management. Developing accurate cost estimates, and then comparing them to the actual costs, is crucial. Unfortunately, some project managers view cost estimation as a waste of time. They argue, “We know how much the project will cost. Let’s not waste time estimating costs. Let’s get the work started.” This is a recipe for disaster. There is a direct relationship between the quality of a cost estimate and the control of costs. Studies show that companies with high-quality cost estimating processes have cost outcomes that are 28% lower compared to companies that have a poor quality process. A cost estimate that misses the actual costs weakens a company’s ability to win future contracts. This can be damaging as often the calculations are taken from past costs. If the cost estimate misses, it is implying that the company has not learned to better manage its resources. It is also essential to know how much resource each activity in a project will consume. The estimated quantity must be translated into a resource requirement by a bill of quantities (BoQ). A price can then be determined for this resource. This provides the information that will tell a company where each activity in a project is either over or under budget. A common method for resource allocation is to simply throw more people at an activity to get it finished quicker.

6.3. Minimizing delays and maximizing productivity

Productivity and efficiency are the two most important factors which lead to an increase in the profit margin of any business or industry. The single important factor that affects productivity and inefficiency in the construction industry are delays. It is seen that the construction industry is one of the most unorganized industries. This has happened because of the way the construction industry has evolved over the years. Most construction sites are a collection of different trades and different companies all working on parts of the building project. This means that construction sites are a combination of small sub-projects that are dependent on other activities to be performed before they can be started. Delays occur when the preceding activity on the critical path is not completed on time. In practical terms, a delay can mean that the painters cannot start their work because the building work is behind schedule and the electrical and plumbing installation has not been completed. This means that the painters are idle and cannot be productive during this time. Another cause of delay is the way construction projects are undertaken. Since the two most important success criteria for a project are completing on time and within budget, many construction projects are fast-tracked. This involves starting a project when the design is not complete. The owner is attempting to shorten the overall project duration by overlapping the design phase and the construction phase. Delays have very serious effects on the productivity and efficiency of construction workers. It has been reported that construction workers spend only 40-50% of the time on value-added work. The rest of the time is spent waiting or fixing errors. This statistic is particularly poor considering that construction worker’s wages are a high percentage of the total project cost.

7. Utilizing Technology and Innovation

In the UK, traditional construction methods are still perceived as cheaper and most readily available, however this would seem not to be the case. Modern methods of construction have always been viewed on the basis of reducing time and improving the quality and efficiency of construction. At present, the demand for new and innovative offsite methods of construction is high, due to its better health and safety record and reduced environmental impact. This is evident with both public and private sector clients commonly specifying designs using offsite construction, it is also a requirement for many PFI projects. An example of one of these advanced methods would be the recent development of ‘System Building’, this involves on-site or offsite production of units and their subsequent assembly into the final construction.

A – Adopting advanced construction techniques and methods

In today’s society, deploying innovation and technology is now an expectation to be able to compete and prosper in the market. With an ever-growing emphasis on sustainability and green practices, the construction industry has come under scrutiny to increase its performance and standards. The industry is now coming under increasing pressure to change from both external and internal influences, this has an exceeding effect on the future of construction professionals. Cost and schedule overruns, safety issues, and the growing complexity of projects all reinforce the need for increased efficiency and productivity improvement in the industry. These types of issues are providing the impetus for construction companies to look for new alternatives and spur the development of construction technologies.

7.1. Adopting advanced construction techniques and methods

Technically advanced construction methods are being widely used for construction work in the UK. One prime example is the use of the Kapsch CarrierCom’s Overhead Conductor Rail system (OCR) for Electrification to power a diesel-free solution. This method has been used in the construction of the CTRL High Speed 1 Project and more recently on the Heathrow Airport East Extensions. An innovative, rigid, catenary-free electrification system, developed originally in Scandinavia, the OCR system provides a reliable, energy-efficient solution that would be suitable for all operations of mass rapid transit railway systems. This technology improves the environment and working conditions for construction crews, interfaces better with surrounding urban development, and requires less land when compared with conventional solutions. This results in reduced overall project cost as well as reduced whole life cost of the railway system. This technology is a great step forward for the railway industry and has potential for other modes of rail transport in the future.

Advanced construction methods and the positive effect that innovation is having on the construction industry in the UK will continue to increase the speed at which buildings and structures are constructed.

7.2. Implementing digital tools and software for project management

The use of digital tools could solve the planning problems that often occur in today’s construction industry. In accordance with this, a research developed by Arayici et al (2009) that has been done in the UK and Hong Kong, resulting in the development of ICT Systems Model for construction scheduling. The research has a notion that the construction project scheduling and planning is a starting point of the lifecycle of the project success. This research shows that the use of digital tools in planning and scheduling can give a better result in comparison with the manual method.

The first step to realize the benefits of digital management is by using common digital tools to ease the work such as Microsoft Office, Microsoft Project, and also the use of email. As an example, the use of Microsoft Office could improve the report making process; while Microsoft Project is to process scheduling and calculation of the project completion time; and the use of email can simplify the process of sending the files and the messages. This will provide a significant difference in terms of effectiveness and efficiency in comparison with the conventional method. On the other hand, the utilization of modular software that were specially designed to solve practical problem of the management in the construction industry could be an alternative.

In the modern business environment, any business, including the construction industry business, must embrace digital technology for management. Digital tools and software can contribute greatly to effective and efficient management. The application of digital management in the construction industry is quite sound. It is a solution to accelerate the development of the construction industry in the direction of efficacy and to answer the problems that often occur in the construction industry. The problems include high costs and the building construction process is often not in line with the predetermined plans.

7.3. Embracing sustainable and eco-friendly practices

Adopting a sustainable ethos involves a vast array of different practices that could potentially be used on a project, with many falling under the umbrella of a specific job. For example, a roofer using sustainably sourced/produced materials or new technologies that are specifically aimed at more energy-efficient construction. A clear plan of which methods will be used is key to successfully implementing sustainable construction. This could involve simply finding new usage for old materials that would otherwise be thrown away. This can be as simple as using the materials in a different place or context. A lot of construction waste can be recycled or reused in the same way. This does not require new methods on the part of the worker but greater awareness and taking the time to identify when and where reusable materials can be found. High focus should be put into using sustainably sourced materials. A recent study was conducted in Australia where a company was given certification to guarantee that all sourced wood was indeed from sustainable sources. The price ended up being no different than the normal rate. This was a small-scale study, but it shows that with such demand and certification, providing consumers with wood that can be sourced without damaging the world’s forests is possible.

Sustainable and eco-friendly construction is seen as something that is trendy, costly, and an optional extra that can be added to a project, but nothing could be further from the truth. Sustainable construction is essential in preventing further depletion of our natural resources and ensuring the long-term success of future generations. By adopting even just some sustainable practices in projects, it will go a long way in providing a healthier, safer building both for business owners and other occupants. It is important to realize that sustainability should not involve sacrificing quality or the architectural integrity of the original plan. Economic benefits have led to rapid growth of sustainable construction in recent years. Therefore, the costs involved are narrowing and, in some cases, falling below the normal costs of a construction project. Another potential benefit is possible tax and other financial incentives that the government may choose to offer to builders and business owners to implement greener methods in construction. An estimated generation of 3 million jobs in the US alone has resulted from a notable demand in eco-friendly construction. High-quality jobs such as these provide a great opportunity for workers and companies alike.

8. Marketing and Branding Strategies

The brand reflection theory suggests that the company’s perceived image will mirror its actual image, with the difference between the two being the level of marketing conducted. An effective brand image can make marketing much easier as the generic brand association will mean the company is already in discussions for future work before the marketing process has begun. This can pave the way for speculative marketing in which the company refrains from active soliciting and allows the customers to come to them. A strong reputation can be leveraged to generate further business by offering additional services to current clients. Having repeat business is key in maintaining finances in hard economic periods. High ground companies can use their brand image to take clients from their competitors, and low ground companies can use it to take important image-building steps.

Developing a brand’s identity and value proposition means generating the overall company image to reflect the actual business in a clear and precise way. Consumers, as a collective market, use brand perceptions to separate good companies from bad companies. This reflected image helps to generate new business in various ways. Very few people are inclined to use badly constructed or dirty companies to carry out work, and larger organizations will seek to associate themselves with companies whose image mirrors their own corporate vision. Image can be further segmented into the company’s brand, which is the visual imagery used to portray a company, and its reputation, which is the general consensus on the company’s actions and services.

8.1. Developing a strong brand identity and value proposition

Construction is an industry often associated with low bids, rapid response, and a competitive marketing environment. Developing a unique brand identity through value proposition is crucial in differentiating a company to its potential market. In many instances, the construction firms with stronger brand identities have a tendency to make higher profits on both initial and repeat sales. This is due to greater perceived value for the consumer, improved effectiveness in sales and marketing efforts, and a consistent image relayed that has resonated with the brand’s target market. McGraw and Mathews (2000) say “A company’s value proposition is a declaration of the tangible results a customer will receive from using the products and services. Value proposition is an articulation of why a targeted customer should buy a product or service. It is a straightforward exchange of value between buyer and seller. A strong value proposition enables the supplier to sell at a premium price while improving demand in the target market. A weak value proposition does not provide a compelling reason why the targeted customer should buy the product. This often leads to lower sales and decreased demand in the target market.” (p10)

8.2. Creating a professional website and online presence

The content on the website should be written professionally and should effectively sell your company image as well as the services you provide. Consider hiring a professional content writer who has experience with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This is a great solution if you are not a strong writer or if you are unsure about the intricacies of SEO. A writer with SEO experience can effectively write your website copy in a way that is search engine friendly. This is important because high search engine rankings often lead to a higher volume of traffic to your website. This hired writer can also write weekly blogs about your projects and company news. High quality, regularly updated content is another way to boost your search engine rankings. Finally, your website should have strong calls to action that encourage the visitor to reach out to your firm. This could be a free quote, a contact form, or any other option that makes it easy for the visitor to contact you. Also, add large photo and video galleries of your past projects to easily convey your company’s prowess to the visitor. At this point, you may even want to consider hiring a professional photographer to take high quality photos of your past and future projects.

Creating a professional website is essential to the success of a construction firm’s marketing campaign. A well-designed website that effectively communicates company values and services is more apt to generate a high volume of leads. To begin, it is imperative that your website has its own domain, as this adds credibility to your company. A domain is generally inexpensive and can be purchased through various providers on the internet. Once you have secured a domain, it is recommended that you hire a professional web designer. A well-designed website will pay for itself in a short amount of time and will generate more profit in the long run than a poorly designed website.

8.3. Utilizing targeted marketing campaigns and advertising

There are a number of highly effective means of targeted marketing and campaign for construction companies of all sizes and specialisms. Likely the most direct and obvious route is increasing the presence of the company website on popular search engines. This is done by utilising search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques and could possibly involve a paid ad campaign such as Google AdWords. Employing an individual (or team) who specialises in SEO and online marketing could be an excellent investment for small to medium sized companies. Consideration should be taken into which product you would like to push in this campaign, whether it be a service such as extensions or loft conversions or trying to aim for a contract in a specific industry such as education or healthcare. Product targeting and relevancy also applies to social media sites who now offer an immense advertising platform. Sponsored content on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn can expose your company and its services to a wide range of demographics and specific audiences. A successful campaign does not have to be all digital, directly mailing a simple professional flyer advertising your services to local households could see some good ROI – particularly for general building, roofing or landscaping services. For much larger construction companies product or brand exposure at events and exclusive hosting could be an effective way to network and gain potential contracts from a high status audience e.g. in the private healthcare or luxury hotel industry. Often be sure to ask the promoter, host or product of the event for demographic and statistics in the possible exposure, this could make for valuable future information for targeted advertising. Remember with any form of advertising the aim is still to not just gain exposure, but potential leads and contracts into what you have specifically marketed. Be sure to assess the success of the product at its end and compare cost to potential return.

9. Financial Management and Planning

This is an absolute given for success in the construction industry. For small to medium sized enterprises (SME’s) in the construction industry, cost estimation and budgeting is of huge importance. Many organizations tend to bid on projects with a really rough estimate of the costs and project for the work. Often this leads to financial loss or stunted growth for the business. By ensuring that costs are accurately estimated and there is a clear understanding of the overall costs involved in a project, a business can avoid taking on projects that are not profitable. At the fundamental level, an organization needs to costs of direct labour and of the materials that will be used for a given job. This requires a thorough understanding of the rates that the organization paid to its workers and an understanding of the amount of materials needed for the job and their current costs. Subsequently, a business should project costs for the overheads and plant that will be required on the job as well as estimating for any subcontracted work. Estimation of costs can be difficult for businesses that have little historical data to refer to or for small businesses that are breaking into the industry. In such cases, a business should seek advice from others in the industry and consult with experienced estimators from other firms. Businesses should also be prepared to make revisions to their estimates as contracts, plans and scopes of work can change. With a good estimate of the costs involved with a project, a business can then set project for the overall profit that can be made on the job. This is important as it provides a clear goal and understanding of the success for a project. Any project that has a profit less than the projected profit should be reviewed to understand how and why this has happened.

9.1. Accurate cost estimation and budgeting

There are three basic steps in the traditional approach to cost estimation and budgeting, which can be modified to suit the circumstances of the project. The first step is to break a project into work units or elements of a specific type of work that can be easily estimated and costed. The second step is to forecast the resource quantities that have a direct cause and effect with the chosen work units. This step usually involves working with the client to determine their specific requirements for each work unit. The final step is to compute the total cost by multiplying an estimated resource rate by the forecasted resource quantities. Furthermore, the information can be discussed with the client prior to the preparation of a budget to maximize accuracy. An alternative approach to cost estimation may be desired in an urgent project or if little information is available. This may involve the use of historical data from past similar projects or expert judgment to estimate a total cost for a particular work unit.

Basically, the key to effective cost estimation and budgeting is being accurate and realistic. There are many ways in which a project can be made profitable or result in a loss, and it all depends on the budgeting throughout the lifetime of the project. Not only can accurate budgeting result in a successful project, but it can also turn a potential loss-making project into a profitable one. Even if a construction company is making a profit on their work, without accurate budgeting, it is difficult to determine the success rate or learning curve for future projects to determine if it was a profitable venture. Budgeting is also important in the ever-growing industry of fixed-price building contracts. With increased competition, owners are seeking to improve methods of budgeting for building projects, in the hope that risk and cost will be reduced and profit increased. It is also common for a contractor to be asked to work within a specific budget with the promise of future work if the cost is cheap and affordable. This is especially common in government projects.

9.2. Effective cash flow management

It is important to understand the difference between profit and cash. Profit is usually only on paper as it is not gained until the project is completed, the client may take time to pay and suppliers will almost certainly not wait for their money. Running out of cash is a real danger in the construction industry and can be the downfall of many companies and instances such as overtrading in a bid for growth without adequate financing, late-paying clients, unexpected expenditure, and rising interest rates all put increased pressure on cash flow. In a worst-case scenario, a development project would be started with a buildup of negative cash flow resulting in the inability to pay those who are necessary for the project and the eventual abandonment of the project itself. Effective cash flow management is a fairly simple process but requires stringent discipline and involves calculating the amount of money moving in and out of the business at any one time, making plans for surplus income, and arranging overdraft facilities for tight spots.

Effective cash flow management is another financial approach that directly contributes to the success of any construction business. This area is one of the biggest causes of both business success and failure for construction companies. Cash flow is the lifeblood of a business and getting it wrong can prove fatal. Effective cash flow management involves budgeting with realistic costings in the first place, ensuring that enough money is available to pay suppliers, subcontractors, and employees while not incurring prohibitive interest on loans or alternative finance. A positive cash flow exists when money from a company’s operations is available to meet all of its financial obligations, the company can be said to have sufficient funds on hand and as such, a “cash float”.

9.3. Investing in profitable ventures and diversifying income streams

People may have specific plans for reinvestment or diversification that can be in other construction projects or a different industry altogether. It is important to consider the costs and benefits of the investment and how it might affect the overall financial position. Some firms may consider moving into the property market, which involves residential property development. The advantage here is that the company already has expertise in this sort of work and has contacts with the same resource suppliers. The firm would have to allocate resources into building land as well as applying for planning permission. Comparing this venture to new industry diversification, the risk is lower and of less cost. However, the profit margin may be drawn out over a longer period of time. If a company wishes for fast turnover of profit, they might consider venturing into speculative building or property renovation. Other sectors of the construction industry may decide to retrain employees in specialized fields with the intention of subcontracting employees’ services to other companies. Some construction firms may be unhappy with the return on investment compared to the increased risk when considering ventures in the construction industry. Alternative high return investments with moderate to high risk include shares, managed funds, bonding, debentures, derivatives, and other forms of securities. It is important to consider professional financial advice before venturing into this kind of investment. Sole proprietors and partnerships may consider investing surplus profits into their personal assets to shelter from taxation. This is not recommended from a legal and ethical standpoint; however, it is a common practice in the UK today.

10. Negotiating and Securing Profitable Contracts

One common misconception is that larger well-known building companies offer the most stable and profitable contracts. This is not always the case. Often large companies will have the financial strength to venture into high-risk projects. High-risk projects are not necessarily good for the contractor involved, as failure to meet contractual terms can result in losses from damage expenses and legal fees. Sometimes well-paid simple contracts can offer the best return for a small company. An example of this might be a small building firm accepting a local private job to construct a swimming pool. The contract should be relatively low risk and profits will be easily identifiable.

When seeking a contract, a contractor should always consider the opportunity cost. If it is unlikely that a job will generate profit, then it is not worth pursuing. This could be the case when the resources and time invested could be better utilized on an alternative project. Often in the open market, the availability of jobs will exceed a contractor’s resources. In this situation they must select the best combination of jobs to maximize their profitability. A contractor should avoid overstretching resources to take an excessive quantity of work, as the quality of their output may suffer.

To get the best profitability from construction, it is essential for a contractor to develop strong skills in negotiating and securing contracts which carry favorable terms and conditions. This will increase the likelihood that a job will offer a good return on investment. Whether the job is a private residential home or a large civil project, the negotiating processes involved are similar.

10.1. Developing strong negotiation skills

One of the most important aspects of a successful contract is the negotiation process. Skilled negotiation can result in a significantly better contract on all levels: more profitable, less risky, and more positive in its long-term implications. Poor negotiation can result in a loss-making contract, in the worst case putting the solvency of the business at risk. Remember, it is as important to know when not to take a contract as when to take one. Before even starting to negotiate, it is important to ascertain exactly what both parties require from the contract, what is negotiable, and what is not. This way, you can develop a strategy and know what to concede and what to push for. During the negotiation process itself, it is important to remain professional and objective. Sometimes it is good to bring in a third party as a mediator to ensure that emotions do not hinder the negotiation process. Always be prepared to close the deal if it reaches the stage where the terms are acceptable. If negotiation fails in a contract that you wanted, it may be wise to keep in touch with the client and try again at another time. Not all contracts are worth taking, and it is worth conducting a cost-benefit analysis to see if the contract is viable and worth pursuing. Measures such as return on investment (ROI) and net present value (NPV) can be used to ascertain the long and short-term value of the contract. Risk assessment is also important; it is conceivable that a high-value contract can be so risky that it puts the company in a worse position than a lower value, lower risk contract. Always avoid verbal agreements and get any significant deals in writing.

10.2. Identifying and pursuing lucrative contract opportunities

More traditional methods of identifying private sector contracts include “tendering” and “speculative tendering”. The former is a process of submitting a document that offers the best value product or service to a potential customer. If the customer decides to buy, the contract is formed. Speculative tendering involves sending sales personnel to promote services to potential customers in the hope of obtaining a contract. An effective promotion to construction management would require a good understanding of the customer’s needs and presenting a feasible solution.

Private sector contracts can still be identified through a number of approaches. Keeping a close relationship with clients can lead to more work through repeat business. Building a good reputation is important and the result of doing so may lead to work via a negotiated contract; this will be explained later, but essentially it is determining a price with the client for work on a cost-reimbursable or target costs basis.

The first stage in the process of securing a profitable contract involves identifying the opportunities. There are several methods that can be used to identify potential contracts. Some of the main types of contract opportunity originate from within the public sector and are therefore advertised publicly. These contracts are usually of substantial value and it is certainly worth investing time examining the public sector contract websites such as Another approach to identifying potential contracts is to contact a procurement agency (a company that finds contracts on behalf of another company). By registering with a procurement agency, details of potential contracts will be circulated to the relevant companies and if a suitable contract is located, the agency will usually offer assistance in the process of completing the tender.

10.3. Ensuring favorable terms and conditions

In cases like this, the client may be able to arrange a bond or a performance guarantee to cover the cost of rectifying any of your company’s defective work. Here the contract should not subject you to penalty clauses or liability for defects other than the return of the bond. Always get legal advice for contracts which have severe implications for your company.

To give your company the best chance of success, try to negotiate contracts to a level where you are not being subjected to undue risk. Carefully assess what the full implications of a contract are for your company both financially and operationally. If you are being held to full liability for works provided, with no retention monies and extensive penalty clauses, then the cash flow and financial viability of this contract may be extremely risky for your company.

Your ability to negotiate profitable contracts will give you the competitive leadership that should define your construction company. Ensuring that contracts work in favor of your company is essential. Many smaller companies will go out of business due to badly structured contracts or their inability to meet stringent contract requirements.

11. Managing Risks and Legal Compliance

Construction businesses undertake a variety of risks and they are often exposed to accidents and suffer damage to their property and/or the property of others. Understanding what these risks are and how you can mitigate them is the most important step in preventing or minimizing any associated losses. In the construction industry, the risk is the possibility that an event will occur and adversely affect the achievement of objectives. The future is uncertain and this has both positive and negative implications for decision-makers. The positive implication is that future outcomes can be better than expected. The negative implication is the possibility of future events deviating from what is expected. It is this uncertainty about the future that creates the need for risk management. Risk management involves selecting the best methods for reducing the likelihood of adverse events occurring and the best methods for dealing with adverse events. It is a process of identifying, categorizing, and prioritizing risks, assessing the potential impact of these risks, and developing management strategies to control them. The likelihood of an event occurring is a measure of how certain we are that it will happen. Assessing the likelihood of adverse events occurring involves examining the issues that affect the frequency of events. Impact is a measure of the effect an adverse event would have. It is not only the magnitude of the effect that is important, but also the time when the event occurs. A large adverse event can have an outsized effect on an organization if it occurs at a bad time. Impact assessment helps construction organizations to understand the consequences of particular risks and to compare different risks in terms of their effect on objectives. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 reiterated this requirement for risk assessment by placing a duty on employers and the self-employed to assess the risks to the health and safety of employees and any others who may be affected by their work. This has major implications for the construction industry where employers often engage a workforce on an informal or sub-contractual basis and where there may be a number of different employers working on the same site. A successful risk assessment will help employers identify the measures needed to comply with legal requirements and it is important not to lose perspective and implement risk control measures disproportionate to the level of risk identified. Building a culture of risk management and awareness is essential to bring health and safety to the forefront of decision making at all levels within construction organizations.

11.1. Understanding and mitigating construction-related risks

Finally, an effective risk management process should monitor and review implementation of decisions and should continually reassess identification measures in the light of new or modified risks.

The general principle of a risk management process is to understand the risks involved, then to make a decision whether or not the risks. It is a process of risk avoidance or risk reduction. The implementation of those decisions will have the risks that they will have a compensating benefit. Buying insurance is a risk financing method that usually goes alongside risk reduction decisions. Qualified risk and insurance consultants can help make informed risk retention or transfer decisions. If a firm or individual has a high understanding of their risks, they may effectively retain them.

Risks in construction derive from the situation unique to every development. A risk may be defined as an event or circumstance that will have an effect on the achievement of objectives. Construction risks, whether there be any housing need or a business requiring new facilities, include anything that will have an adverse effect on cost, time, quality, or safety. Identification of risks in construction is a process that is itself a risk management tool. It is a highly creative process, the success of which is highly dependent upon the skills of those undertaking it. In the case of small developers, this may be just one individual.

11.2. Complying with health and safety regulations

Recent times have seen a more fundamental shift in modern regulation – moving HSE provisions from predetermined sets of prescriptive rules and the implementation of a process-based regulatory technique. This involved industry-wide revocation of many old regulations such as the 1961 Construction (General Provisions) Regulations and a drive towards higher and common legal duties. This is an area not always well understood by the wider workforce and forms the segue into discussing key means of influencing real health and safety culture.

I’m not going to use the cliché that health and safety regulations are a ‘necessary evil’ if you like to pick any form of negative connotation. Construction is a high-risk environment, and regulations, set within a legal framework, are an essential tool for accident prevention, maintaining engineering control, and promoting safe working methods and the use of safe equipment and materials. A well-controlled health and safety management operation will identify applicable regulations through a legal register and ensure, as reasonably practicable, compliance through well-defined tasks, regulations, and procurement of information on design change and regulatory developments. This must be conveyed to the site workforce and, in the case of CDM, to the client and principal designer in order to promote awareness and effectively influence decision making. Compliance is scrutinized through investigation of the regulated party, penalties, and at the very highest level, prosecution. Fines that can now be unlimited and a mix of deterrence and public incentive from the publishing of enforcement results are often considered as the correct approach for a legal framework-based regulation. However, compliance cultures and enforcement behaviors can widely vary between inspectors, duty holder groups, and clients, and a study ‘Perceptions of Construction Occupational Health and Safety Culture’ investigates modern opinion and regional differences for the better. Compliance in construction law can be particularly difficult to control due to the ‘scatterbrained’ nature of project-based work and regulatory provisions specific to funding and procurement types.

The wide-ranging success and record of the health and safety management in construction over the past 15 years is well-documented. The reduction in accidents, ill health, and death toll from what is termed traditional ‘hard end’ industries through the development of effective regulation and management systems are stark. However, construction is a transient, dynamic, and complex set of activities, and the continuing challenge lies in maintaining progress. It is acknowledged, largely among duty holders, industry experts, and regulators, that in comparison to high-profile incidents and the general ‘move the culture’, the regulatory impact on micro and small business enterprises can be disproportionate, low, and at times lacking in effective communication. On the other side of the weed bond, it is claimed that inconsistent standards and understanding among inspectors and a regulatory burden from historic and archaic regulatory measures conflict with modern proactive health and safety management, particularly in design and planning. An appreciation of these issues is important when considering the vague concept of regulation ‘effectiveness’ and ‘good requirements’.

Construction Health and Safety Regulations, Duty Holders and Enforcement – A Two-Way Street

11.3. Seeking legal advice and insurance coverage

When faced with serious legal action, business merits and moral issues are not the only concerns for consideration. Legal advice, by its nature, is reactive – a consideration of past events and the likelihood of their recourse through the legal system. Also, legal advisors are often quite expensive, whereas insurance cover is a proactive measure to mitigate potential future losses. Thus, with the exception of large, cash-rich businesses, it is common for UK construction companies to seek legal advice only in response to serious issues, neglecting to seek advice on a proactive, preventative, and ongoing basis. It is not within this essay to recommend when legal advice should or should not be sought, but it is widely agreed by legal professionals that prevention is better than cure. Measures to identify and avoid potential legal issues may not always coincide with legal advice itself, the process often being a matter of identifying hazards and assessing likelihoods. However, some legal advisors may be willing to assist with this process on an informal basis. In terms of construction, specific legal issues and advice are various and far too wide in range to cover in this essay. However, it is imperative for businesses to be aware of legal obligations specific to their area of work and ensure basic legal awareness is known by all employees and managers. Step one towards such legal compliance is the awareness of the existence, explanation, and exposition of facts from legislation and regulations. This is a huge subject area and can be overwhelming, but failing to understand and rest information in law is a common reason for its violation through ignorance or misunderstanding. The UK has a wide variety of laws and legislations specific to construction, from building regulations and safety at work acts to EU directives implemented in UK law. For smaller companies of less than 50 employees, accessing such legal information is relatively straightforward using the vast array of government-run websites which provide free access to the latest consolidated legislations and statutes. For larger companies or complex issues, it may be necessary to seek professional legal advice. Failure to comply with the law can result in civil or criminal action, and, at risk of stating the obvious, prevention of such failures can save a lot of time, money, and heartache compared to the measures required to defend oneself and the potential losses in the case of prosecution. The checking of government legislation specific to an issue is the first point of reference, although considering the complexity and volume of modern legislation, this is often a bewildering and time-consuming task. An alternative would be consulting with a legal professional with expertise in the area of issue, who would be able to relate the law to the specific facts of the case, advise as to the requirements, and the way in which failure or success in compliance affects the likelihood of legal recourse simulation data.

12. Balancing Work-Life and Financial Success

Share your feelings and experiences – As in any problem or issue, sharing these with close friends or family can help to put things in perspective. They may provide new ideas or solutions that you may not have thought of alone, and simply verbalizing your thoughts can be a great source of relief.

Set limits – Assess how many hours you need to work to maintain financial commitments; anything over this is a choice to further your career. Remember, every hour you work is an hour less that you could be spending time on other activities. Earmark times throughout the year when you can take a break or holiday and stick to them. Overworking with no breaks is not sustainable and will result in decreased performance at work.

The work culture in construction, much like in any high-paying field, presents challenges with achieving balance. The nature of the industry results in many individuals choosing to prioritize financial success and career advancement over personal well-being. A common application of this ethos can be seen with the “20 years of hard work and then relax” approach. This vision may work for some, but it is not healthy nor realistic for all. It is important not to neglect relationships, activities, and self-care in the midst of career building. The people who do not invest time into personal well-being are at higher risk of developing stress-related illness, losing touch with loved ones, and a reduced quality of life. Consider the following tips to help find your own work-life balance:

12.1. Prioritizing personal well-being and work-life balance

Individual coping strategies also play a role in the varying degrees of work-induced stress and impaired well-being. Problem-focused strategies, which are action or solution-based, are more likely to result in increased productivity and well-being. This is opposed to avoidance strategies and emotionally-based coping. Support and resources also play a major role in how people cope with job demands and work-induced stress. This is apparent with those who have shared work and family roles. The strain from these shared responsibilities and lack of resources often results in an increase in unhealthy behavior and physiological problems. Social support is the best reliever of stress as it can affect stress perceptions, decrease the likelihood of negative health effects, and generally improve overall well-being brought on by long hours and demanding work.

Personal well-being during times of high stress and long hours in the construction industry is dependent on the reasoning and motivations for working long, hard hours. Research has shown that workers who work long hours and who have high job demands are often motivated by the thought of advancement. They believe that by working longer and harder they will increase their prospects of promotion. Strong intrinsic motivation in this case is salient in that the worker believes in what they are doing and are working long hours because they enjoy it and believe in the cause. These people will have higher job satisfaction and more commitment to their company and are likely to exhibit fewer physical or psychological problems as a result of stress. A major determinant of whether or not someone works long hours will be the level of control they have over their work. Time pressure and long hours are less likely to have detrimental effects on those who have control over the source and the pacing of the work.

12.2. Managing stress and maintaining mental health

There is also a range of support available from the Lighthouse Club, which has an adaptable wellbeing toolkit and other resources. No matter how minor a mental health concern is, it should be addressed as soon as possible, and there is help available.

Charlie Thompson, a carpenter, was diagnosed with stress, anxiety, and depression. He explains, “I’ve been through the dark times, but coming out the other side, I can see how I am a better person today than I was before.” This was through speaking out about his condition and seeking support. It is recommended for anyone with mental health complications to visit their GP and take some time off work until they feel prepared to go back. If it is work that is causing stress, most employers will be able to make allowances or changes to ease the stress triggered by the given cause. For example, a tradesman needing recovery time from surgery due to a work injury was given a place as a site supervisor to avoid losing money and to ease the transition back when he is ready.

The stress of projects, personnel, and contracts can lead to poor mental health and even breakdown. This is amplified in construction due to the nature of the work, which is often slow and leads to isolating environments. Working away from family and workplace stress, traveling home instead of being left on-site. Researchers have suggested, although levels of stress are no higher than other industries, the mental health of construction professionals, including workers, is a growing concern. However, the subject of mental health is becoming less and less taboo with the emergence of available help and support.

12.3. Investing in personal growth and development

To facilitate the process of learning and development, individuals might seek out a career mentor or coach who can help them set and reach learning goals, provide encouragement and support, assist with job and/or career progression, and in some cases, the acquisition of further qualifications. Many of these qualifications can now be attained online, which makes learning much more flexible and achievable. Another way to achieve more learning and a better job role for those involved in a trade would be to step up to a supervisory or management role as these generally involve a higher level of training and regularly offer opportunities to learn new skills through tried and tested methodologies, and there are specific qualifications available (e.g. Site Management NVQs, SMSTS qualifications).

Personal growth and development come from learning, whether it’s acquiring new knowledge, building on existing skills, or learning new ones. Taking the time to invest in continuing education and skill development is often difficult in the construction industry due to time demands, family commitments, and shift pattern working. However, there is growing evidence to suggest that continual personal development can open doors to further job satisfaction, increased earning potential, better job security, and employability, and that it is a key part of effective work-life balance.