Why Contractors Partner with Construction Product Suppliers [with case study]

Collaboration in the construction industry is not a new thing, it was encouraged by both the Latham (1994) and Egan (1997) reports. However, supply chain collaboration isn’t the norm in UK Construction yet, and is looked upon with scepticism by some consultants.

Collaboration will become increasingly important if the industry is going to achieve the aims of the Industrial Strategy for Construction which was published this July. As a major supplier of building materials, SIG has a very close relationship with a number of major national contractors. Why are such relationships so important to contractors and how can architects benefit? Here are our thoughts, and below we publish a case study about our work with a major UK contractor.

Benefits to Contractors of Construction Product Collaboration

    1. Access to specialist expertise and technical knowledge. A materials supplier needs to have in-depth knowledge about their products that a main contractor is not likely to have. If the supplier has a dedicated design team, such as SIG Design and Technology, that team will have broad experience of the challenges of their specific area. Purely because of our specialism in flat roofing membranes and hard metals, SIG Design and Technology work with hundreds of roofing projects every year – we don’t often come across a situation we haven’t met before.


    1. An innovative approach to unusual design problems. As buildings increase in complexity, the systems needed to fulfil them also become more complex. A contractor has to be certain not only of the performance of the products they choose, but that these products will work together well without any detrimental effects. A specialist supplier with an experienced design team can provide the contractor with confidence to take on difficult design challenges.


    1. Delivery of cost savings and efficiencies. Good design is cost efficient, without a doubt. But this efficiency must be delivered without any loss of performance. Collaboration can enable the design team to achieve this, whilst professionally managing risk.


  1. System Certainty. A materials supplier with an expert design team offers not only expertise, but a track record of successful projects, warrantees and Professional Indemnity Insurance. SIG Design & Technology’s DATAC Accredited Contractor scheme offers the only UK Workmanship Warrantee, enabling contractors to give their clients assurance not only of the products but the entire system and its installation.

Benefits to Architects of Construction Product Collaboration

Single Ply Roofing Membrane Installation

Traditionally, architects may have been resistant to collaborative relationships between contractors and suppliers. This may be because they fear a loss of design control, or feel that the resulting project will not fulfil the brief their client set, or meet their own aspirations in terms of aesthetics, performance or cost.

But Contractor – Supplier partnerships do have benefits to architects. With the right people involved, a supplier’s design team can be seen as an asset to the architect in their own work. Benefits might include:

  1. Reduced PI Exposure for the architect’s practice;
  2. Early involvement of a specialist advisor in their design exploration;
  3. Freedom for the architect to concentrate on the overall design rather than the waterproofing details;
  4. Confidence that the architects design will be executed effectively, in the way they envisioned, at minimal risk to them.

We are often introduced to projects late in the day, when costs need to be cut. But architects who wish to focus on what matters to them, can benefit from our expertise right at the beginning of their design process, leaving them to concentrate on the work that they most value.

More Information and Case Study

Discovery Academy Case StudyWe’ve recently published a case study about the partnership between Wates Construction and SIG and the involvement of SIG Design & Technology’s expert roofing design team in that partnership. You can read about the case study here, or download the pdf case study directly from the link below.

DOWNLOAD CASE STUDY: Discovery Academy Stoke on Trent

Are you involved as an architect, contractor or supplier in collaborative relationships? Let us know your experiences, or ask any questions in the comments below.

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