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Overwhelming response to industry survey clearly shows Contractor Design Portions remains a issue that needs improvement

June 26, 2024

A recent construction industry-wide survey seeking views on the issue of Contractor Design Portions (CDP) has been flooded with responses reflecting how important it is as a topic across the sector.

The survey, issued by the Construction Quality Improvement Collaborative (CQIC) which was established in early 2023 to further embed and promote a quality culture across Scotland’s construction sector, sought the views on what needs to change to improve the CDP process.

In total there were 380 respondents from a wide spread of organisation types and sizes covering a variety of professions and occupations from across the construction sector.

Over the last 25-30 years there has been an increasing tendency to use CDP for construction projects where a range of specialist sub-contractors are required to contribute towards the overall design and construction of major buildings. However, many believe the CDP system is being used inappropriately and too late in the process.

The top line results from the survey show:

• 45% thought the term CDP was not clearly defined and understood

• 91% of respondents agreed that appointment of the CDP contractor impacts positively upon design and design quality

• 95% of respondents agreed that early or very early appointment of the CDP contractor would have a positive impact on design and design quality

• 78% are of the opinion that the scope of CDP design work should be agreed before RIBA Stage 3

• 90% stated that CDP design work should be carried out by RIBA Stage 4

• The barriers to change in use of CDP are lowest price procurement, procurement routes and design consultancy fees

Colin Campbell, Associate Director at the Scottish Futures Trust, who co-chairs and provides the secretariat for the CQIC work, said: “This has been a phenomenal response to the survey, showing just how passionately industry feels about the issue. We will now begin sifting through all the submissions with a focus to engage further with industry later this year, with the aim to produce best practice guidance for the sector to follow.”

Iain Kent, Commercial Director of Morgan Sindall Construction and co-chair of the CQIC, which is the Quality Working Group within the Construction Leadership Forum’s Transformation Action Plan, noted: “The use of CDP has grown over the years and it can have an impact on the quality of the design and construction. Whilst there is undoubtedly a need for CDP in specialist areas of construction, the level of response to this survey shows change is needed that will benefits the whole of the construction industry.”

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