May 17, 2017

Turner & Townsend have released their International Construction Market Survey 2017 (ICMS)

Commercial construction
African construction
Catherine Sturman
4 min
Turner & Townsend have officially released the findings of their annual

Turner & Townsend have officially released the findings of their annual International Construction Market Survey (ICMS), highlighting construction costs in 43 global markets that are placing significant impact within the construction industry. We take a look at some key findings of the report.

Rising costs vs. skills shortages

Zurich has now been knocked off the top spot and no longer has the highest construction costs at approximately $3,807 per m2. The report has concluded that the most expensive locations to now build are New York, London, Hong Kong, San Francisco and Zurich. New York City has exceeded its influence as not only a leader of technical innovation, but has the highest construction costs, with costs increasing by 3.5 percent, spending $43 billion in 2016 within New York alone. In a somewhat traditional industry with limited building space, architects are now increasingly building upwards, transforming the methods and technologies used within these builds.

However, with over 50 percent of markets reporting of a global skills shortage, concerns have been raised around ongoing inflated costs of ongoing construction, and the number of projects which are steadily increasing. With political influences, such as the UK’s shock Brexit vote, alongside President Trump’s inauguration, political influences are also making their mark on the industry and increasing concerns of further labour shortages and stricter border controls which will limit economic growth in some areas. Average building costs in London are at $3,214 per m2 but are set to steadily rise, but areas in the North and South of the UK are also set to warm up and see increased cost inflation.

Additionally, President Trump’s pledge to ‘Put America First,’ through a series of trade agreements has led to tech and manufacturing companies looking to locate further facilities in the country, rather than outsource to areas where labour costs are lower. On this note, countries such as Africa and India have been noted to have the lowest construction wages and manual labour, whilst New York and Zurich construction workers have fewer workers on higher salaries, ranging up to $100 per hour, and implement a number of technologies to provide high quality results and increased safety on site.

The development of new technologies within architecture and design, such as the Microsoft HoloLens, automation and robotics, drones and modular building, have enabled the reduction in time and cost efficiencies, besides improving the levels of quality and safety on site through active data management. Steve McGuckin, Managing Director for Turner & Townsend commented in the report: “The UK construction industry needs to boost productivity levels. There is an urgent need for contractors and clients to embrace innovative technologies and new methods of construction, as well as using data analytics and better programme management to increase output.”

Strengthening infrastructures

With a global acknowledgement surrounding sustainable construction, linked with this is the need for strengthened infrastructures to support ongoing projects. Both the USA and China are placing significant investments within national infrastructures, such as Hong Kong’s three runway system and Disney Land Theme Park, which will further provide increased tourist figures and boost economic growth.

The report concludes that Manhattan is at the forefront of the US construction boom, with new office complexes, such as the 1 Vanderbilt, which will become the second tallest skyscraper in New York upon completion. Additionally, Africa, India and Australia are investing significantly on new and existing road and rail infrastructures as a consequence of a booming population and tourist figures.

Residential boom

With regards to residential and commercial construction, London, Germany and the Netherlands are continually undergoing a number of projects to cater to ongoing supply and demand. Robust labour market and low interest rates in Germany have furthered economic growth and significant investment in infrastructure projects, with Stuttgart 21 and the terminal at Frankfurt Airport being key examples. The Netherlands, similarly, has placed significant attention to the residential sector, with the economy growing at approximately 1.5 percent. London, however, remains a key hotspot for residential and infrastructural builds.

Cost of commodities

With the implementation of Expo2020, the United Arab Emirates is sourcing ways in which to further drive their economy. Traditionally utilising oil as the main source for economic growth, Expo2020 is a sure way to attract further construction work and drive economic growth and tourist numbers. A number of new attractions, hotels and facilities are currently under construction, such as the Al Habtoor City, with the aim to be one of the most sustainable and advanced cities in the world. However, with the fall in oil prices, construction companies in the region have had to reduce their prices to win bids, creating further concerns.

Alan Talabani, Regional Managing Director, Middle East, Turner & Townsend, commented in the report, “The low price of oil, and therefore government revenue, remains the single most important factor affecting current and future investment decisions in the region. 

“In the Middle East there is a need to drive greater efficiencies across construction projects against the backdrop of low commodity prices.  Contractors and clients in the region need to embrace innovative technologies and maximise automated construction, as well as use data analytics and better programme management to unlock savings.”

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Aug 4, 2021

Diffuse disputes through better Project Management

Dominic Ellis
6 min
The pandemic has caused a near-doubling in the value of disputes – which means they need to better manage projects to minimise the fall out

The average value of disputes globally rose from $30.7 million in 2019 to $54.26 million in 2020, while the length of disputes fell from 15 months in 2019 to 13.4 months, according to a recent Arcadis reportThe data, featured in Arcadis' 11th annual report, illustrates industry-wide ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic although interestingly, the overall volume of disputes stayed relatively the same in 2020 as in 2019, contrary to what most observers would have anticipated as projects stalled and costs soared during the pandemic.

While trends in the value and length of disputes varied between regions, all surveyed saw an increase in "mega disputes" related to bigger capital programs and private projects. Notably, more than 60% of survey respondents encountered project impacts due to COVID-19.

Owners, contractors, or subcontractors failing to understand and/or comply with their contractual obligations became the leading cause of construction disputes in 2020 (jumping from 3rd place in 2019), followed by owner-directed changes and third-party or force-majeure changes as the second and third-leading causes, respectively.

Highlights from the report include:

  • Proper contract administration was a theme across the globe for the successful and early resolution of disputes
  • Most disputes were settled through party-to-party negotiation, and a willingness to compromise played a key role in early resolution
  • Among regions surveyed, the buildings (education, healthcare, retail/commercial, government) sector saw the most disputes
  • In North America, construction dispute value rose from $18.8 million in 2019 to $37.9 million in 2020, while the length of disputes shortened from 17.6 to 14.2 months.

So how can firms prevent disputes escalating in the first place?

Writing in the foreword to Connected procurement: the Foundation of Construction Success, Mike Pettinella, Director of EMEA Sales at Autodesk Construction Cloud, says trust between owners, main contractors and subcontractors remains a vital element. 

“The importance of partnership makes the preconstruction phase, when organisations decide who to work with and how, so critical to every project’s success,” he writes. “From selecting the best people for the job to mitigating risks, preconstruction is where you make your money and lay the foundations for a successful build.”

Inviting, tendering and submitting bids involves interactions between a large number of construction organisations. But currently there’s little consistency across the industry in the technologies used for this crucial process, the report notes.

Construction firms use a diffuse set of software to manage bids. Email is the most popular tool across owners, main contractors and subcontractors, followed by a combination of Google Drive, Microsoft Excel and  DropBox. Notably, a fifth of owners (20%) and subcontractors (19%) use a custom-solution that has been created in-house. 

A significant proportion of companies don’t use technology at all. More than a tenth of owners (12%) and subcontractors (13%) say that most of their tenders are still paper-based, although this trend is less prominent among main contractors.

Errors can take place that compromise the project later on - and this isn’t a rare occurrence. The majority of main contractors (86%) and subcontractors (78%) admit that errors are made during the tender submission process that impact the project down the line. In fact, a quarter of main contractors say this happens on the majority of projects (24%). 

InEight and Microsoft Dynamics 365 connect all business processes with Construction 365

InEight Inc. has announced a strategic integration with Microsoft Dynamics 365 to deliver Construction 365 – a unified enterprise platform incorporating over 30 different integrations to help businesses improve and standardize insights and information flow between office and field for capital construction projects.

The integration unifies the data experience (including CRM, Estimating, Project Controls, BIM, Risk Management, Document Management, Scheduling, Accounting, and Procurement, through desktop and mobile capabilities) to deliver businesses with improved transparency and alignment, providing a single source of truth to enhance ease of user access, collaboration and security across Microsoft and InEight applications. Using the end-to-end, customisable platform, customers can now connect data and processes seamlessly and intuitively across systems to reduce errors, omissions and redundancies while improving the outcomes of complex long-term projects.

Pål Christian Hustoft, CFO, at Veidekke Entreprenør AS, a joint customer of Microsoft and InEight and one of Scandinavia’s largest construction companies said it believes the Construction 365 solution will meet itsr business needs as a fully integrated digital transformation platform, providing transparency and control throughout the business. “We expect the ongoing implementation will confirm our beliefs, making it possible for us with a greater ability to create great projects for our clients with our desired profitability and on schedule.” 

Petter Merok, Industry Executive, Architecture, Engineering & Construction, Microsoft Norway, saic complex construction projects involve huge amounts of variables and many different cross-practice and company personnel. 

“This powerful Microsoft Dynamics 365 integration with InEight empowers teams with unified, real-time data across all processes to make smarter decisions that drive business progress. We are proud to be playing a role in supporting productivity and performance improvements in the construction industry, at a time when it has perhaps never been more important.”

Mike Paul, Managing Director for EMEA at InEight, said while the physical world is still seeing borders and restrictions on freedom of movement, the trend in the data world is the opposite. “Connectivity is key. Through this integration with Microsoft Dynamics, InEight is creating interconnected workplaces to enhance collaboration and project outcomes in capital construction. It’s an important and timely step towards our goal of digitalising construction project management.”

Pursue quality partnerships, embrace on-site tech and adopt agility

Construction professionals surveyed in the Arcadis report have clear ideas about the qualities that would make them want to collaborate with a business again in the future – and  communication, as well as reliability, is an  important factor. 

For subcontractors, regular communication and project updates (31%) and the timely completion of work (29%) are the attributes that would make them most likely to work with an owner again in the future. 

Turning to main contractors, the quality of handover delivered by subcontractors (46%) is the most influential attribute, followed by them completing work on budget (41%) and on time (40%). Notably, the use of digital technology on-site is also an appealing trait for both main contractors (31%) and subcontractors (25%). 

In an article for Business Chief North America, Chris DeBrusk, Partner, Digital Practice, Oliver Wyman, considers the future role of the project manager. He believes as organisations adopt agility and drive their transformation efforts using a more iterative approach with increased alignment between business and technology stakeholders, the role of the project manager is definitely going to change. 

“That being said, it will be a rare organisation that is able to eliminate the role completely,” he says. “More likely is that the role will become one of enterprise coordination, organisational change management, and risk management and less a manager of SDLC processes.”

Arcadis Report highlights

  • Proper contract administration was a theme across the globe for the successful and early resolution of disputes
  • Most disputes were settled through party-to-party negotiation, and a willingness to compromise played a key role in early resolution
  • Among regions surveyed, the buildings (education, healthcare, retail/commercial, government) sector saw the most disputes
  • In North America, construction dispute value rose from $18.8 million in 2019 to $37.9 million in 2020, while the length of disputes shortened from 17.6 to 14.2 months.

Business Banking Resolution Service tackles recent and long-standing disputes in UK

A free and independent UK dispute resolution service, the Business Banking Resolution Service (BBRS), is appealing directly to property and construction businesses to see if their banking disputes, both recent and long-standing, can be resolved. 

 It is estimated that, over the past 20 years, some 600,000 businesses could have developed a dispute with their business banking provider that remains unresolved. More than 179,000 mid-sized businesses including construction companies, property developers, architects, estate agents and residential and commercial landlords dating back to 2001 may be able to benefit from the service according to ONS data.

This number includes businesses that have since closed. The BBRS and Propertymark, are urging businesses to see if they can apply, particularly those with older unresolved complaints, as the deadline for historical complaint applications is February 14 2023.

Businesses going through the service will be assigned a highly skilled dispute resolution specialist, who will act as a single point of contact and offer practical support. The BBRS is fully independent and free to use. Businesses can find out full details, including if it is appropriate for their situation at:


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