Concrete Contractors’ Influence Is Growing Earlier in the Project

In the past, contractors had little or no say in the design and specification process of a construction project. However, the trend is changing, and 52% of the contractors recently surveyed say they have more influence on the specification process compared to five years ago.

June 1, 2023

3 Min Read
Female Architect and Male Conctractor
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Increasing Influence of Concrete Contractors on the Specification Process

In the past, architects and project owners had the primary say in the product specification process. They would create the design, specify the materials and make decisions impacting the entire project. However, this trend is changing due to the increasing influence of contractors on the specification process. Today, recognition for the importance of cross-team collaboration earlier in the process is growing, and contractors are becoming more involved in the early stages of the specification process.

In a recent study conducted by World of Concrete and The Farnsworth Group, 52% of concrete professionals surveyed agree that compared to five years ago, contractors today have more influence in the specification process and/or selecting the brands for materials used in concrete projects.

Contractor Influence Chart

Contractors now provide their expertise on product performance, cost and scheduling during the design and construction process. This allows them to provide valuable feedback that can help project designers and specifiers make more informed decisions and shape the final product. Almost 50% of concrete contractors surveyed say they recommend specifications to the project owner and 31% influence the specifications. Additionally, contractors are taking on more responsibility during the construction process, which means they need to be involved in the specification process to ensure the project's success.

Document and Specifications Chart.png

Pros and Cons of Contractors Having More Influence on Specifications

The growing influence of contractors on the specification process has advantages and disadvantages. One of the primary advantages is that contractors can provide valuable input on constructability, product performance, cost and timing during the project. This can help reduce construction errors and delays, ultimately saving time and money.

However, there are also some potential drawbacks to contractors having more influence on specifications. One of the primary concerns is that contractors may have a different level of design expertise than architects and engineers, which can result in designs that are not as functional or aesthetically pleasing.

Another area of concern is that contractors may prioritize cost over quality. This can result in designs that are not optimal for the long-term use of the building. However, the study found, 64% of concrete professionals agree that compared to five years ago, more projects today are specified based on performance measurements rather than brand or product name. In addition, 42% of those surveyed selected brand or product performance as the reason for selecting a substitute brand.

Performance Measurements Chart

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The Role of Technology in the Specification Process

The role of contractors in the specification process is continuing to evolve, and they will likely continue to have a more significant influence in the future. Technology is one of the trends changing how the construction industry operates, and it is significantly impacting the specification process.

With the use of BIM, cloud-based and other digital tools, contractors can provide real-time feedback and input on constructability, scheduling and costs. This allows architects and engineers to make more informed decisions during the project, which can help reduce errors and delays during construction. This also allows for more efficient communication between all parties involved in the project.

The growing influence of contractors on the specification process is a trend that is changing the construction industry. While there are both advantages and disadvantages to this trend, it’s clear that contractors are becoming increasingly important players earlier in the construction process. As the industry continues to evolve, all professionals involved in the construction process need to understand the impact of this trend and adapt accordingly.

Learn more about the growing role of the concrete contractor and current buying trends by downloading our Active Buyer Study.

The study was conducted by research firm The Farnsworth Group via online surveys sent to World of Concrete and ConstructioNext (previously WOC360) Concrete & Masonry newsletter/website audience members from Informa Markets Construction.

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