Entering 2021 feels like a pivotal moment and potential turning point for the construction industry.

Returning to the world of contracting in 2020, it’s been inspiring to listen to excited contributors at different events sharing examples of real change, improvement and modernisation, that have been given new momentum and a licence to plough through, due to covid.

With the publication of the Construction Playbook, which echoes many of the best practice sentiments set down in the 2016 Modernise or Die, Farmer Report, and even the Egan and Latham reviews of the 80’s and 90’s, some may be saying that it’s simply a case of ‘here we go again’.

But perhaps what it proves is that the industry has long been wise to its own developmental challenges, but that it sometimes takes exceptional circumstances to empower individuals en masse as an industry to surmount the traditional physical and contractual boundaries, and natural commercial risk aversion on incredibly tight margins, that may have limited the pace of progress in the past.

In 2020 genuine collaborations have reinforced the ambitions of initiatives like Project Speed, from major projects developing new ways of working (to offset covid delays) that will cut years off delivery timetables, to building conversions like our Nightingale Hospitals being completed in only nine days. Greater use of digital, expanded and more creative applications of offsite and modular driven by covid proximity restrictions on site, have all helped the sector accelerate the pace of change.

Now it is about harnessing that invincible spirit, backed by demonstrable project delivery and positive commercial outcomes, to cement in permanent change. In balance, the other key ingredient needed will be that commercial certainty and visibility of pipeline being promised by the Government in its new National Infrastructure Strategy and the Playbook, to maintain market activity and momentum, and as they put it ‘build back better’.

We will soon be publishing our construction sector insight report, based on responses from a wide range of contributors sharing their views at the end of 2020, from major contractors to SMEs, taking stock of what the past year has meant for them, and what contracting in 2021 will look like.

What is certain, the sector can be very proud of its valiant response during an incredibly difficult time, not only finding ways to maintain activity, but also pioneering new ways of working; a sentiment echoed by outgoing Construction Minister, Kwasi Kwarteng, in his open letter of praise to the industry last week.

For more information, please contact Caroline Romback, Director – Construction, caroline.romback@copperconsultancy.com