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Thinking differently: 5 benefits for the client of the partner builder approach

17th November 2021 |

In a previous blog post, I outlined the growing trend of the ‘partner builder’ approach, where the construction company functions as a delivery partner, rather than simply a contractor. At the core of this partner builder approach is the benefit it provides to the client, argues Rupert Perkins, Managing Director of John Perkins Construction.

1. Certainty over cost

An unfortunate feature of the construction industry is the artificially low price.

Widcombe Baptist Church

Widcombe Baptist Church

This is what happens when a client commits to a low price from the contractor at the tender stage, but ends up paying a much higher price over the course of the project. This only causes clients aggravation. What they need instead is certainty over cost.

Cost certainty and risk management can be better achieved through a negotiated contract or two-stage tender, where an ‘open book’ cost plan is developed with early contractor involvement. This type of transparency means there are never any secrets around what’s being spent.

What’s more, working with a contractor to look into the cost implications of different design options and methodologies at an early stage can reveal cost savings that wouldn’t be possible using the traditional procurement route.

2. Time savings

Saving on time goes hand-in-hand with saving on cost. The early contractor involvement that comes with the partner builder approach can unlock ways to shorten the construction programme and get the project completed more efficiently.

This is especially important for organisations that are working towards hard deadlines, such as schools carrying out upgrades outside of term-time. A partner builder approach can help to create certainty around these critical dates.

3. Stronger working relationships

Kingswood School dining hall

Kingswood School

Early contractor involvement can, right from the outset, establish strong working relationships between the client, the contractor, the architect, and other key members of the team. When everyone already knows each other from a positive pre-construction period, it cuts out the uncertainty that can plague the beginning of a project.

Getting everyone’s input early in the process also improves the accuracy of the programme, leading to a more effective build.

4. Having a partner on your side for the long term

Taking the partnership approach is about building a relationship between the client and contractor for the long term. It’s never about just doing the job and getting off site (and out of touch).

In this type of long-term partnership, there is an in-built incentive for the contractor to always deliver the best quality work possible. The client knows the contractor will always be on their side if there’s a problem.

5. A pleasant experience

YMCA Highbridge

YMCA Highbridge

“Pleasant” and “enjoyable” may not be the first words that spring to mind when clients think about a building project.

Yet our former clients have called construction projects with John Perkins Construction “a genuinely pleasant experience” (Andy Battle, Widcombe Baptist Church), “an enjoyable experience” (Dave Somers, Hutton Moor Leisure Centre), and praised the fact that everything was completed “always with a smile” (Marcus Chapman, The Corsham School).

We believe this is the ultimate benefit of thinking of a contractor as a delivery partner. It fosters a positive working environment, and means that clients can enjoy the process, rather than enduring it.

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