EP 128

The Future of Construction Technology and the Role of Contractors and Quantity Surveyors. (EP 128)



In the studio today, Paul is joined by Owen Drury, a QS and now the Co-Founder of Bilt Renovation, a contractor bringing Residential Home Construction into The 21st Century.

In today’s conversation, Owen and I discuss the future of construction. Owen hosts the Bricks & Bytes Podcast interviewing construction technology founders and understands what it takes for technology to break through and what is coming.

We talk about how main contractors, subcontractors and construction professionals can prepare for the future and get ahead of the competition by adapting and taking on board new tech.

Your free OTB downloads

As promised at the top of the show - I’ve shared a link to the Ultimate Guide to Subcontract Tendering eBook below: 


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Paul is on Linkedin here and would love to talk. You can also connect with Paul at paul@c-link.com or through, C-Link.

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Book a demo to learn more by clicking here.


Paul Heming: Hello and welcome to episode 128th of the Own the Build Podcast with me, Paul Heming. As per the last few months, we’re continuing our free download giveaway, and today I’ve linked an eBook that I wrote a couple of years ago called The Ultimate Guide to Subcontract, Tendering and Procurement. I wrote this eBook a couple of years ago, like I said, and it’s for main contractors, property developers, anyone who’s doing subcontract procurement, and it talks about what we’ve talked about a lot on this show, which is kind of the five key stages as I see it, of world class tendering. I bang on about it a lot. Pricing, documents, scopes, communication. All of it is covered in the eBook. So if you’re tendering right now, I know a lot of you will be, go and download it and feel free to share your thoughts with me on LinkedIn or on email paul@c-link.com. Onto today’s show, so in the studio today, we have got a fellow QS, a fellow podcaster. I mean, we’ve got, this guy has got it all. Today in the studio we’ve got Owen Drury, who like I said, is a QS. How are you doing mate? And he is the co-founder of Built Renovation, a contractor bringing residential home construction into the 21st century. And alongside all of that, he is also, as I said, a fellow podcaster hosting the Bricks and Bite Show, which is a show all about construction technology. I’ll link it in the podcast description later. You guys should all check it out. It’s very good. I’ve been on it, so it must be fantastic. Owen. 

Owen Drury: That’s the best episode. Yeah.

Paul Heming: Exactly. Yeah. Welcome to Own the Build. How are you mate?

Owen Drury: Hey, Paul. All good. Yeah, thanks for having me. I have to say, it feels very strange to be on the receiving end of questions, usually in the podcast. If at the podcast where you run, if people ask me a question, I get really offended. I’m like, dude, why are you asking me questions? I’m the interviewer here. So here we go. 

Paul Heming: Do not ask me a question then. You’ve got to stand by that code. No, I’m really looking forward to it. And all seriousness, everyone should go. I regularly listen to the Bricks and Bytes podcast. I really recommend that everyone else does. Really, really great show and run by QSs. What more can you want in your life? So talk to us about your construction journey to date, just to ground the conversation. Owen.

Owen Drury: Yes, of course. So world exclusive today. This story has not been released before, so by the book link in the show notes, please. No, just kidding. Of course. But I wanted to make it a little bit fun. I understand your listening base is quite QS based. So let’s try and talk about something that we can relate to all of them. So my career as a QS began when I was playing Xbox in my bedroom as probably a, maybe 17 or 18 year old boy. Well, my Xbox and my mates used to… Did you ever go into parties when you were younger with all your mates after school? 

Paul Heming: I was always a PlayStation man, mate.

Owen Drury: Oh damn it. So yeah, we’d be on the parties, we’d be arguing with the Americans about, they say we drink tea. We used to argue and have all these crazy fights for them. And I’m pretty sure my dad just got pissed off and was like, what are you doing? It’s like, oh, I do this all the time. Just play Xbox with my friends. He is like, what are you going to do when you leave school then? I’m like–

Paul Heming: Please tell me. He didn’t say, I’m going to be a quantity surveyor.

Owen Drury: The first thing that came up was, I’m going to be a quantity surveyor. Nah. But yeah, so my dad being a QS was like, well, come on. Like seriously consider it. It’s a good career. It’s like you earn well, you can do some work on some great construction projects, just have a think about it. And I was like, whatever, dad, go away. I want to play Xbox. But anyway, obviously his words work. So here I am probably a few years later. It got to about 2012 when I really started broke into the industry. So that’s what, 11 years ago now. But I’d say my career actually really truly began as a QS in 2019. So as I said, started in 2012, done part-time degree. And after doing that I was thinking, I want to go and work in somewhere like Canada or Dubai. London’s boring. Like what the hell’s going on in London? 

Paul Heming: Are you a Londoner? 

Owen Drury: I’m a Londoner, yeah, I’m a Londoner. Where are you from?

Paul Heming: Birmingham.

Owen Drury: Oh, okay.

Paul Heming: Don’t roll your eyes. Don’t roll your eyes at me. I mean, companies. Anyway.

Owen Drury: Yeah. So I was like, well, I want to go and work somewhere cool where there’s a bit of sun. And my friend was like, I want to go to Canada. And I was thinking, oh, the Dubai sounds good. Like the money’s great. Obviously at that age, money is a huge, huge motivation for us. In order to do that, I needed to obviously go and do my APC. So become a charter quantity surveyor, it opens up doors, makes things a lot easier. So 2017, 5 years later I joined a consultancy and with the really the chief aim of going out and doing my APC, they had a really good pass rate. And anyone that’s been through the APC, I’m sure there’s a lot of people that listen to this, that have understand that this is no easy feat. I think they’re like conditioned to scare the crap out of you. This is the hardest thing you’ll ever do. Don’t give up your life. You’re not going to pass this. Our assessors are really, really scary people. So that worked and that scared the hell out of me and I thought, well, I’ve got a bit of effort into doing this. So me being me terrified of failure at the time was like, let’s make a plan, done everything on time, done the case study, gave up all my weekends was, gave up my social life to get this thing over and done with, so I could move to Dubai. I had my partner test me every, every evening on things. I’d do my presentation. Yeah, it’s awful. Looking back at it. I was, without a doubt in our company there was probably me and three or four other people doing it. I was the hardest worker there. You know, like seriously I was there. I would get up early on the weekend cycle to work, which is like a 45 minute cycle, spend the day in the office revising. I even made all these crazy stupid acronyms. I tried to find a few before coming on the podcast actually, because I thought that’d be quite fun and maybe even helpful for people doing their APC to remember. But some of the contract conditions, I would say it’s not all lost though because it helps me my day job today. And so, yeah, that was kind of how it went for a while. And I was ready, I’d done some mock exams with people in the company. They’re like, oh, and you’re ready. You’re advanced. You’re going to smash this. And so the day comes, the big APC day, months of planning, you’re like, oh my god, this is the biggest day of my life. We even had a countdown calendar in our kitchen. We were tearing off the days is really count down five floor, 3, 2, 1. Yeah, today’s the day, my partner’s like, hallelujah, I’m going to get Owen back. We can finally have a relationship. So yeah, I went to online, bought a new fresh pair of Loki shoes and for a non-qualified QS pair of Loki shoes, it’s pretty pricey. So I really splashed out. And yes, and then, I don’t know if you’re aware, but you go to Heathrow Airport, which is the closest assessment center to me, you go with this big A3 folder with all your presentation in, because one sin of the APC is to bring a presentation on a laptop. Because what happens with technology, it fails. So you’ve got to make sure you’ve got your big folder. So you get to Heathrow airport, you get to the waiting room and there’s like 20 other people in there. Maybe not that many, maybe 10, 15. And it’s like, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the scene out of the office, the US, the fire scene where it’s all a bit chaotic and everyone’s like fire, it’s all going mad. Everyone’s like sweating, like nervous, what do we do? Can’t speak to each other. Because obviously this is the biggest thing that you could possibly do as a QS in your career. And so, yeah. And then they call out your name and you go down this corridor and they’re like, wait here. It’s like waiting outside these hotel room doors. It’s like a scene out of or it felt like you’re going to go buy a load of drugs off someone in a hotel, but you knock on the door, free, free guy or a guy comes out, gets you, he’s got his suit on. He says, come in, come sit down. And yeah, done the assessment. I thought felt, yeah, that went pretty well. That went pretty well. And then, well what happens is after you do the assessment is they make you wait seven days. So they say, we’ll email you in seven days with the outcome of your result. Great. Seven days of pure attention. It’s refreshing your emails all day, when’s it happening? When’s it happening? And this was in June, 2019. So 26th of June, in fact. 2019. I found the email earlier. 

Paul Heming: You remember the day? 

Owen Drury: Yeah, I found it earlier. I found it earlier. Because I wanted to–

Paul Heming: Refer to it. 

Owen Drury: Give the people the thing. And so yeah, you phone loads up, email from APC support subject, private and confidential, and you think, oh my god, is this, you open it up, what does it say? This is the exact wording, “further to your recent APC interview, we regret to inform you”. And I was like, oh shit. Right. That’s like a pure disaster. This is like however many months of my life, I’ve given up to try and get this. I’m never going to be able to go abroad work in Dubai or anything like that. I failed. I failed. And it was a tough time looking at the people around me and putting in half the amount of effort. And I think most of them passed, one or two other referrals. But yeah, it was a tough pill to swallow. And it does throw a bit of a span in the work when you’re kind of flying through your career up to that point. So anyway, look at the positives, you can always do these things again.

Paul Heming: So what did you decide to do? 

Owen Drury: Here we go. So I signed up again, went again, failed second time. 

Paul Heming: Really? 

Owen Drury: Okay, well, let’s do it one more time. 

Paul Heming: Third time left. 

Owen Drury: Failed again. Third time. So do free times. I failed my APC. And considering how hard they push you to do these things and looking back in the position I’m now, that was like pure, pure failure. And I know it sounds a bit cliché, but they say like, you gain the most out of the times that you fail. And I truly do believe that’s true. So after all of these failures, it did get quite bad. I was actually did go, I can joke about it now, but like, I fell into a bit of depression, got really fat, not like fat, but like heavy,  bit nihilistic… 

Paul Heming: Weren’t in a good space. 

Owen Drury: Yeah. I weren’t in a good space. And I remember at the time discovering podcasts and I remember again exactly where I was Baxley Bridge Road and someone was like, listen to this podcast with Joe Rogan and Mike Tyson. 

Paul Heming: Oh, I was going to say, surely it was going to be on the build mate, but you’ve let me down.

Owen Drury: Ah, yeah, that came after. We’re not onto that. Yeah. But anyway, so yeah, started listen to that and really without going into too much detail about what that did, it’s listen to these podcasts with people like that opens up your mind. And it was amazing to see that the world does really exist outside of the construction industry. I’d had like seven odd years where my mind was just like, construction, this is it, this is like, this is life. And then on top of that, start getting very curious. I started reading a lot of books and I even remember one time I was like, a great goal would be to try and be a guest on the Joe Rogan podcast. Like, okay, whatever it happens or not, it’s still something cool to aim it. So I thought I’ve got to go and take on a little bit of an entrepreneurial endeavor here. So let’s give it a go. Let’s give it a go. So it got to 2020, we’re now 2020. So what we, six months or something after failing APCs. Wow. It’s amazing. I have to use a plural there, but, hey, this is life. Yeah. And March, 2020, COVID obviously locked down and I quit my job at the old other company, joined another company and the first day at the job was the day that Bo Joe at the time announced the lockdown. And I was just sitting in my office in my second bedroom in my house. Like my bed was the backdrop of my zoom screen, which I always think is quite funny. And yeah, I was like, I can do this myself. And at the same time, I had also been teaching myself to a bit of a COVID hobby, but also turned into a little bit of a side bit, side hustle was web design and digital marketing. And I was building websites for people doing some SEO and stuff like that, making a little bit of money out of it. And then it got to about September in 2020 and I was making decent enough money to say, right, okay, I’m quitting my job as a QS forever or at least going to reduce it down slightly. And I went to my bosses at the time and said, I don’t want to go down to, well, I told my partner Fran at the time, I was going to ask him to go down to four days a week, but on the morning of the day as I was getting out of the car, she dropped me to work. I said, I’m going to go down to three days. And she was like, what are you doing?? Which was another problem to deal with. But anyway, went there and they were just having none of it. They were basically get out kind of thing, nicely. And so I did, and the year, it gets to December, 2020 and that was my last day at the job there, had an ambition really to go on with a web design, but it didn’t really happen like that, reality hit and I had to make money and it turns out QSN is a good way to make money. So yeah. And from there really the rest is history. That was the point where I started up the QS consultancy, which I run now ODQS and we focus on high-end residential, that’s not necessarily high end. It can also be on the more, more lower end.

Paul Heming: And alongside your QS consultancy, which you now run, which is growing, which is doing better and better, which is awesome. You also now run the Bricks and Bytes podcast. So you’re not yet on Joe Rogan’s show as a guest, but you have your own podcast show. Just talk briefly about what that show is and what the inspiration for that show is.

Owen Drury: Yeah, so Bricks and Bytes show is a show in construction and we talk about tech, so that is a big word, but it’s really the whole tech ecosystem from innovation through to the start world, through to people running the technology businesses themselves, processes in that to integrate in order to adopt technology in a construction business. And that was born out of, after I was doing my QS business for a bit, I was like, I want to get into the tech world. Because that was really a passion of mine, like, for a long few years of my life. And someone was like, go and become a name in the tech industry in construction. I was like, cool, how can we do that? Let’s start podcast. Great. Let’s do it. And then, yeah, that’s kind of how it stemmed.

Paul Heming: Yeah, well it serves a great niche to be honest to, and I’m in the tech space, XQS now software founder and I listen to that show and it gives me quite a bit in terms of just thinking about how we run our business, listening to other people, how they run theirs, but also massively broadens my horizon in terms of what’s going on generally. So we’ll talk more in the second half of the show about how contractors, how professionals, people listening can adapt or update themselves with regards to construction technology. But where do you think, you said construction technology or tech, that’s a big word. It definitely is. You are 40, you are 40 yard episodes in. Where do you think we are at as a sector in terms of technology?

Owen Drury: It’s a big question, Paul. Like we could do an hour on this. But I will try and summarize, when you do these things, your brain starts creating some patterns and you start piecing together all the interviews we do. And what I notice is that, it’s very bloody hard, like for tech and construction. When people think of tech companies, you think of super quick, fast growth, change things fast, Facebook mantras move fast and break things. That doesn’t work in construction. It’s slow moving.

Paul Heming: We move slow, but we still break things, right? 

Owen Drury: Exactly. Move slow and break things. Worser.

Paul Heming: Yeah. Yeah.

Owen Drury: And that kind of is my base view on it. People are coming now. I mean, but having said that it’s an exciting time to be in construction. Tech funding is at an all-time high, I think in 2022 or 2021, very recently reached an all-time high anyway. And I think it dips slightly, but it’s still there. So people are interested, investors are like people, we speak to people from Silicon Valley and stuff like that in construction. And they’re very excited. They say the next decade is a really exciting time for construction tech. So slow, exciting with a lot of challenges.

Paul Heming: Yeah, it really resonates. We’re in our eighth year as a business of trading and the jump from 2015 to 2023 is significant in terms of construction technology and the uptake that generally speaking the industry has had. But I think if you compared us with another sector from 2015 to 2023, we’ve not moved anywhere near as fast and definitely uptake is slower in the sector and I think that’s largely because of the project nature of the works that we do. So it takes a year to fully go through almost that first project, really understand it, rationalize it, see if it was good, see if it was bad, and build on it. Whereas other sectors are a bit quicker or the transaction process is a lot quicker. So that definitely resonates and we speak to a lot of people who say construction technology is not like other tech spaces where you’ve got these big hockey sticks in terms of uptake. But I believe that there’s just huge, huge opportunity for so much benefit to be taken and so many efficiencies to be taken in the next couple of years. And I think we’re actually starting to see a dramatic acceleration. And after the break let’s talk more about what is going on and actually what you think QSs contractors can do to uptake more technology. But we’ll do that right after this break, mate.

So we’ve just been laughing off, laughing, not laughing. You see I’m already showing my more northern accent than you. So I still can’t believe you rolled your eyes at me being from Birmingham. So hurtful more than anything. Let’s…

Owen Drury: Look on the tough questions.

Paul Heming: Let’s talk about QS in quickly. You’re a QS, I’m a QS, both kind of doing less and less QS thing I guess now. Well, I’m not doing any, but day by day things are changing. We’ve talked loads on the show about AI data, future quantity surveying, future construction. What is your view in the context of your conversations around technology about the future of construction and quantity surveying?

Owen Drury: Yes. Okay, so construction generally, it’s very, very difficult to say and some people are like, I don’t want to predict or give generalizations. Some people are like, yeah, go for it. I’ll give a prediction. No one really knows. It’s a total, it’s an interesting discussion, right? And it raises some good points. So I always like to think about how two, three years ago all the hype was block chain, right? It was block chain, its crypto is going to be the next cutting edge tech that’s going to revolutionize everything.

Paul Heming: That’ll come back. 

Owen Drury: Yeah.

Paul Heming: That hype, I mean, I’m pretty sure that hype will come back.

Owen Drury: Yeah. Maybe. Now obviously it’s AI. AI and also, I think sustainability’s kind of hangs in there somewhere as well. So that is a good illustration of kind of how hard it is to predict because things happen so quickly. And I know we were talking about how slow construction is, but trends generally change very fast. So it’s very hard to say, but there are, before we even think about the future, we should try and think about the short term and what we should be doing in order to make technology be adopted like a lot easier in construction. So first thing, and this has been going on for years, is getting data strategy, data collection strategies correct. There’s tons and tons of construction data, but it’s just useless, very, very useless. You go on websites and you can download data sets of stuff on a website called Kaggle. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of it, but you go on e-commerce or something, you get some lovely data, it’s like. You can say every September we have lots of sales. You get a construction CSV file from Proco something and it’s like RFI response crane, something went over on this cell. It’s just like a complete mess. And it makes absolutely no sense. And I truly, I will be very surprised if there’s any human that can really interpret that and say, oh, here’s a pattern. We can see that on Wednesdays, the perform workers are much more efficient. I just don’t think that, well, we’re getting there, but it’s not available right now. So I think that is one key thing really to look at. And then changing cultures as well, Paul, there’s so many blockers to innovation right now. I believe that unless we can change the culture of the industry, we’re really going to struggle with construction and a tech adoption.

Paul Heming: Which cultural element is holding us back?

Owen Drury: Collaboration for me has to be a key thing. It’s a personal gripe of mine, like this unhealthy subby bashing, whatever you want to call it, passing on all risk to contractors. I really don’t, that’s really uncollaborative like as it’s in the resi sector we see, I find that it’s very much about doing the minimum amount that you can and just saying like, well, we don’t know what we’re doing. We’re just passing to the contractor. And why do you think the contractor’s going to know? And unfortunately the contractor doesn’t realize that they’ve taken on this risk. And how, where are they going to find the time now to try and implement some kind of innovation when they’re trying to mess up like all of the work that has already been done? 

Paul Heming: Well, yeah, I mean it is interesting to say that, because we done a lot of pitching and conversations in the last six months about construction as a space and why technology is so poorly up taken in construction. And R&D investment is difficult when your margins are sub 10% and if you’re a contractor, you’re getting a whole lot of risks thrown at you, which makes you think you need contingencies or whatever else. So it almost, I wouldn’t have framed it myself as collaboration, but I completely understand what you mean. I always think about it in terms of margin and risk, right? If you’re operating on a tiny margin, how are you going to say, right, let’s take a big risk and inverted commas and invest 10 grand into this software that we don’t know if it’s going to work, we don’t know what it’s going to do for us. Hence why there hasn’t been this huge uptake, but how can… the industry, I don’t see, I think it’s getting better and better year in, year on, year out. And the conversations I have on this show make me believe that more as well. But I don’t see it dramatically changing and margins all of a sudden being fantastic, construction playbook means everyone’s got these great margins, it’s not going to happen. So how do contractors take that step? Like you speak to founder’s week in, week out. I don’t think that there is necessarily a golden ticket to this, but how can, what would your advice be to contractors about, you see all this tech, you must see some amazing technique. God, if I was to implement that, it would’ve this impact. What can people doing who are listening do to take advantage of all the tech that’s coming through?

Owen Drury: Sure. 

Paul Heming: Other than buy C-link immediately.

Owen Drury: Yeah. No, I’m kidding, of course. But the reason I hesitate there is because there is a lot, there’s so much that goes into thinking about tech adoption. First off, I’ve been seeing different patterns recently and some of the points I’ll give now are like, not my ideas. I’m not going to take credit for them, but I think they’re really good and worth passing on. Some I have experienced with and some I don’t. So first off, any tech adoption has to be aligned with what you’re trying to get out, like what are your business goals essentially? Are you just adopting a new technology for the sake of adopting new technology? Because FOMO is a real thing. People will feel like they need to go and buy a license for the hottest software just because what are they missing. But then you fall into a trap, you buy the software, you don’t know how to use it, you want your staff to all try and use it. But you don’t give them the training. It actually adds more steps to their workflow. These guys, busy guys, people in construction are super busy. Why are they going to spend now an extra hour or so, like putting something into a fancy digital platform rather than an Excel spreadsheet just makes no sense? So there needs to be strategy and that’s why I was getting at with the business goals. And in addition to that, some more points and some stuff that I’m like recycling from the podcast, which I really liked is about building communities. So within some bigger contractors, I don’t know if this is big in the UK but certainly in the US is they have internal communities or certain tech construction companies building these internal communities. So either to raise awareness of the technology to make people feel comfortable about using the technology to have to allocate champions of people that can provide information, advice about how things are working. And I think that’s a fantastic idea and it almost is like without plugging the podcast, but you know as much as I do when you do a podcast, you are building a community as well. We’re meeting great people and these are real people that are trying to change the industry for good. Secondly is raising awareness. So a lot of solutions out there are probably very good, but people just aren’t aware of them for whatever reason. Again, you can find out lots more on Bricks and Bytes Podcast about, that’s a great platform for raising awareness. These are not all going back to that by the way. I will just say that keeping it simple, I think I have a lot of points. I’m conscious of time, but the biggest thing for me really is about keeping it simple. As soon as you are adding to people’s workflows, then forget it. Like why does any technology become a successes? Because it simplifies your life. Its cliché, but Uber, you get a taxi in two touch points or something before you had to, I don’t know, I remember ringing mini cab, ringing three or four mini cabs, 15 pound, like 10 quid. Yeah, great, I’ll go for it. That’s a painful process. In construction, you can’t add to someone who doesn’t have a spare five minutes in their day, like an extra step just because you want them to use some tech. Secondly or another cool point is having a tech champion, I love this idea. It’s like some, and I’m rewarding that champion. So using them as the golden boy or whatever you want to call him was like, this guy’s done it. Look at him, he’s flying through his career. Like incentivizing and motivating people to want to be able to use the technology.

Paul Heming: Yeah, there’s lots of different, we talk about how we internally, how we implement with clients and allocating a tech or choosing a tech champion internally within a business is something we always do. A ceiling champion so that they can be the person that gets it. They can be the person that evangelizes about it almost. So that definitely makes sense. With regards to contracting, we’ve talked about like the future of construction, but like the day to day, I have my own opinion on this, but I’m interested to get yours. What do you see changing about quantity surveying in the future? No more APC. That’s what you’d like, wouldn’t you?

Owen Drury: Yeah, I’d love that. No, I like all jokes aside about the APC, I learn a shit load in it and I don’t think I would be able to run the consultancy, I do without going through the process. So it’s great, but you just need to know the game you’re playing, right? So the future of the QS role is an interesting topic. There are obviously things that a QS does that does not necessarily need to be done by a QS. Some examples might be analysis of a tender return. Say there’s like that, that’s a computes task. As long as you have the right data there. I mean, I’m going to oversimplify this and I haven’t seen it being done yet, but in my head that’s just something that I don’t think a QS or some or human needs to be sitting behind a computer. 

Paul Heming: What’s this space, Owen, what’s this space?

Owen Drury: Oh yes, I love it. See I’m giving away C-link secrets by the sounds of it. Yeah, so automating a lot of the tasks, I think, I’m sure some, I was at a talk once and Tom was saying SR, so Robert MacAlpine are retraining a lot of their QS to be data analysis. So I think the role will slowly transition more to a data role. Like honest, like I collect tons of data in my QS business and we have stacks and stacks and cons and columns of cost data and it’s, we haven’t done anything useful of it yet, but we’re sort of laying the foundations to be able to do that. So yeah, moving towards a more data role. But the ultimate question I think you’ll probably want me to talk about is will QSs has become extinct.

Paul Heming: I never said that though.

Owen Drury: Man, I think as a big fat no, they will not because there’s a big human element to what we do. There’s a lot of people skills involved. It’s not just about sitting behind a desk crunching numbers all day. Subby bashing, it is like you are talking to people and doing a lot of negotiation and management of people and people want to deal with people. Like how frustrating is it for you when you go on a website, you want customer service and what it’s personally frustrating and they send you to the chat bot. I just want to speak to someone, come on. That’s the way I see it going. So the roles there, it will adapt. I think more human skills, more human skill based and a lot of the sort of legwork, shall I say, can be automated and perhaps the role becomes slightly more disciplinary. So more vertically integrated with other roles. So you won’t—

Paul Heming: Yeah, I agree with you. I do not think contrary to what some people believe that the QS role will become extinct far from it. It’s just going to evolve, right? Chat to a lot of people about it. Some people get really uppity even the thought of elements of the QS role evaporating, but it’s going to happen. And there’s stuff, you talked about tender analysis, but I think doing a BOQ, why is that necessary in today’s, in a world where tech is really fully functioning? I don’t think it is, but as you say, once the data that the QS is working with is highly valuable and correct. Because At the moment most cases it isn’t. Yes, you need a human interaction there between the different trades between the client, et cetera, et cetera, to manage that process. So the QS role, I don’t think will ever be extinct. Definitely not in the foreseeable future, but it is changing.

Owen Drury: Okay. And I would also ask you, do you think that people would trust a machine generated quotation for a three or 4 million pound package of work? I’m not sure that every machine just spit that out. Someone would look at it and go, that’s right. I still think–

Paul Heming: I don’t think they would, sorry to interrupt you, but who do I trust more? The BIM model or the machine or a QS to do a takeoff? If the BIM model is going to generate that for me in one minute and the QS is going to generate it for me in two weeks, I know I’m going to trust and I’m going to and you could make that argument about so many different things because you never know who’s doing it, right? And I just believe, and you talked about the tender analysis there, like why would any QS theoretically spend their time lining up four different quotes and trying to work out the different, just generate it. And then not that the QSs is not needed to do that analysis anymore, but they’re the ones that actually then they just take the data and they go about their job from there, rather than spending 16 hours or whatever doing a tender analysis on every single package. Which, if you think about the future of the role in that respect, I’m pretty sure most QS would think, oh, that sounds pretty good. I don’t have to do a takeoff anymore and all these different elements, I don’t have to do my tender analysis, don’t have to do that. I can just focus on making a real impact. That’s what I think the future will be. 

Owen Drury: Yeah. And they’ll find you, you will have to naturally probably find other things to fill those gaps, right? So instead become, well, yeah, they don’t forget the pub or start a beer brewery or something. That would be even more cool. But like, yeah, we may see project managers doing the whole thing, right? I don’t know, maybe even architects. Oh, don’t say that. 

Paul Heming: No, I don’t. I don’t know. I think the QS role and function can remain. It’s just going to adjust over time. One thing that we, I see that you talked about quite a lot on, lots of new things that I’m learning about you as the days and weeks go by, but I saw on your LinkedIn profile, this is kind of off on a tangent, but you said it kind of like leads your LinkedIn profile by saying less than a third of Gen Z said that it would consider a career in construction, even fewer actually end up in it. Why is that front and center of your LinkedIn profile?

Owen Drury: Strange. Strange. Strange. I actually asked myself the same question, like, why is this something that’s bugging me so much? Why do I feel the need to want to attract the next generation? And I honestly don’t know, I just think it’s quite a funny stat. We have this generation of people coming. Yeah. Well, let’s look at the problem, like construction is an age, as an industry we’re getting older. That’s obvious. And we had someone actually on our podcast speaking about that yesterday and the people willing to come into the industry is decreasing. So we’re going to end up in this big area, this vacuum where there potentially isn’t people to do the construction work. And I don’t know what the consequence of that is, but for people that are interested in construction, like you and I, we’re in the industry, that pose is a threat. That is a threat to existence I guess in some extent. So I believe we need to be doing more and you know, young people are diverse. They can put a new spin on things. They’re probably more willing to try out some of the stuff that I’m passionate about adopting technology and bringing technology into…

Paul Heming: Is the listenership to your podcast younger?

Owen Drury: I could say that it is generally people between the age of 28 and 35, I think. So not really, but we do have young, like some younger people interested definitely. And we have a disco channel with a number of people, people in a discorded in itself as a platform is aimed at that younger generation. So who knows?

Paul Heming: Well, it has been great chatting with you Owen and I will be leaving not begrudgingly, quite happily be leaving Owen’s Bricks and Bytes podcast in the podcast description. I honestly think everyone should go and listen to it. I get great pleasure from listening to it when I do. And Owen, it’s been great to have you on the show learning more about your story. Like I said, there’s a lot of things I didn’t know about you before today show, so it was really good. And thanks for your candor and your honesty and in telling us about your story. Lots of interesting things about the tech space as well. I will speak to you soon mate. And yeah, thanks for coming on the show.

Owen Drury: Cheers, the future’s bright guys, we can do this. Thanks Paul. 

Paul Heming: We can, indeed. No, thanks mate, and I will speak to everyone as always next week. Have a great weekend. See you later.

The Ultimate Guide to Subcontract Tendering

On an average project, you procure somewhere in the region of 10 to 20 subcontractors depending on h...

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