Construction is like the eldest sibling in the family when it comes to a finger in the air test of confidence in the economy. When construction is performing well, it’s viewed as a barometer for business growth, setting the benchmark for how other industries are expected to perform.

Queensferry Crossing Road Bridge

And currently, the figures are looking good. Markit/CIPS purchasing managers’ index (PMI) rose to 54.2 in December; up from 52.8 the previous month and 4.2 points above the baseline indicating expansion.

On site, the picture looks good too. Drive through any UK city and the cranes, hoardings and traffic restrictions provide an excellent indicator of the scale and scope of construction activity.

Against this positive backdrop, however, challenges remain. Continuing market uncertainty creates a breeding ground for delayed decision making, which often means that projects need to be fast tracked to site once the green button has been pressed.

To help address those challenging timescales, it makes sense to rationalise the supply and delivery chain, integrating different elements of the specification to reduce the number of points of contact for the architect and contractor and improve buildability and value engineering processes.

This is particularly important on larger, more complex projects, where integrated specifications across a number of elements can help to deliver dramatic time and cost savings during both the design and delivery phases.

While the construction sector is more buoyant than many expected, with good indicators for continued growth, cost continues to be a major factor in development and specification decisions. The cost pressures and tight margins that have been a feature of the industry since the financial crisis of 2008 have been exacerbated by the reduced value of the Pound against the Euro and the Dollar, affecting the cost of imported materials.

As a UK manufacturer with a global reach, Sika is protected from this price volatility, enabling us to offer more stable pricing structures across a very varied range of solutions from basement to roof (and everything in between!).

The cost advantages of integrated specification are much more far-reaching that material costs, however. A joined up approach to specification that draws on the technical experience of a single company like Sika means that the architect can save time – and costs – on the design phase by utilising that expertise to create a best fit technical specification across a number of areas. The same expertise can also help to value engineer the specification without compromising on quality and ensure buildability is factored into product choice over a combination of materials, saving time and avoiding future issues that could cause costly delays on site.

Capitalising on a market growth is all about ensuring a best practice approach to maximising the opportunities. A more efficient, cost effective approach to specification is a good place to start.