A conservative industry
Construction is a conservative industry for good reason — if things fall down, people get hurt. Low industry margins limit the potential to recycle retained profits into research and development, and cookie-cutter project procurement processes make it difficult to offer new and innovative solutions.
Globally, one of the factors holding back innovation is the lack of consistency in standards. It's notoriously difficult to benchmark between projects and geographies: land, construction and property measurement standards have historically differed by country, and often by city. This generates a lack of transparency; the "buyer" has no easy benchmark for construction costs. For example, should a railway of 1,000 kms cost $3 billion or $10 billion? When estimates are available, what was included in the scope of capital investment in any case?
To address this, RICS and 40 other international professional bodies have come together to create International Construction Measurement Standards. These are intended as a way of doing 'apple for apple' comparisons between projects, an important enabler for benchmarking across the construction industry – something that has not been possible in the past.
Read more: Why ICMS is a global game changer
We are also working with 30 other professional bodies to create the International Land Measurement Standards, which are intended to provide greater certainty and transparency over land rights, and helping to overcome hurdles when negotiating large-scale infrastructure projects, such as utility or transport networks.
The standards apply to professional services, and how professionals in the industry would measure and value assets rather than the product standards themselves. Clearly, the standards ensure transparent reporting to enable proper comparisons between assets of similar construction, for example between two single-storey buildings of brick construction, or between two roads of concrete construction.
To have a consistent way of comparing projects, the standard needs to take into account the materials that go into the benchmarks.