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    Will we ever see an end to the lowest possible price?

    March 2022


There is one major factor, the elephant that is constantly in the room, that dictates almost everything that happens in the construction industry – it is called the lowest possible price.

It is frequently responsible for shoddy workmanship, poor building materials and more failures than anything else. It blights the construction industry, has done for decades and in spite of many good intentions, little has changed over the years and, say Proteus, one of the country’s leading waterproofing companies, there are few signs that it ever will.

Every part of our business is price led and this particularly applies to roofing and waterproofing – a vital component of every building, but frequently the poor relation, possibly because much of its work is mostly out of sight and not considered quite as glamorous or as cosmetic as other parts of a building such as cladding or balconies.

Without the intervention of a strong architect or a contractor unwilling to compromise, cheap will nearly always win the day. Some 80% of all specifications are changed before buildings are completed with the phrase “or similar” constantly used as justification for changing products or systems.

The fact is – or similar – does not quite cut it on every occasion. There is little policing or testing of substituted products prior to installation, just a strong acceptance that the chosen alternative will do the same job and will do it just as well. Most of the time, that will be the case, but there have been many examples where projects have failed because the alternative failed to match up.

Nearly every construction professional will testify and give examples where cheaper alternatives have not offered the same longevity or performance, are often more difficult or less user friendly to install, which in turn, totally negates any upfront cost savings.

Proteus Waterproofing, like most companies in this sector of the roofing market, offer value for money lower cost systems for buildings where a reduced performance is more than acceptable. However, their experience has shown that some customers are still prepared to accept lower cost alternatives even when the project demands that they should be trading up to take into account increased longevity and performance.

A small increase in material costs can make a huge difference, but it could then be the choice of losing that project to a competitor if the building owner or specialist contractor is determined to go down the cheapest route. Yes, the building will be waterproof for 10 or more years but it could have been much longer with a better high performance product.

Built up felt systems are a classic example of this. Choose a top of the range elastomeric, professionally installed, and it can deliver up to 40 years or more of useful life. Start to come down the range and you begin to lose that performance.

Proteus Waterproofing says the company will always recommend the best system for the job and like everyone else, is very aware of budget constraints but often there is so little in price to consider, especially when looked at over the whole life of the building, that it seems wrong to go for cheaper alternatives.

You cannot really blame the manufacturers or contractors. These are the ground rules where the lowest possible price is still the system of choice. Will it ever change – sadly no – unless there is draconian new legislation and with Grenfell still fresh in everyone’s mind – that may yet happen.

Talk to an expert today!