Construction innovation – interview with Paul Maher (Part 2)

new technology for construction spoke with Paul Maher, Construction Director at Harry J Palmer Ltd, about construction innovation, specifically in relation to house-building. This is the second part of the interview, part 1 can be found here. (IST): With the advances in technology, both in the pre-construction and project planning phase and later during construction, how have your customer’s expectations changed, and what are you doing to address this?

PM: As I mentioned previously, computer-generated graphics help especially with things like kitchen and bathroom design. Although they can have their Home User Guide on a hard disk, quite a lot of our home-buyers still like to have a hard copy manual to refer to (good bedtime reading), and many still would much rather see the real thing to get a feel of the high quality homes we build and to meet the team on site. Conversely, our colleagues, consultants, designers, sub-contractors, & supplier want everything sent electronically. I can’t remember the last time I used a stamp and an envelope. However, a lot of customers are getting better with technology too, so quite a lot of the content in my answers above is transferable to the customer as well.

IST: How do you manage the introduction of new operational procedures and technologies with the expectations of your work-force and sub-contractors?

PM: Although we are a traditional house-builder, with a significant history, our MD (May Palmer) is quite tech savvy and encourages the use of modern working practices and technologies.

We also find our sub-contractors will quite often lead the way with innovation as they are the specialists in their field and have closer contact with manufacturers, although this is dependent on the leadership in these particular organisations and their attitude to innovation.

New operational procedures have also been implemented quite easily here and our external partners (such as our web-site designers and IT consultants) are always bringing fresh ideas to us and ways to improve.

IST: In your industry what do you think will be the most exciting innovations during the next 12 months?

PM: Compiling data and knowledge collectively in order to obtain more learning and ways to continuously improve the way we do things, for all involved (designers, contractors, operatives etc).

I would like to think we could have ‘action learning’ through shared experience (both good and bad) via some kind of ‘portal’ type platform but tailored to each sector in construction, i.e. housing, health, education, retail etc.

The only drawback would be having the time to visit the Portal so may be bulletins or alerts via the phone or e-mail could help. This is probably already being done somewhere but I’m not aware if it is! What basically trying to say is ‘share the love’.

Paul Maher is a construction industry veteran of more than 35 years experience. Maher is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Building, and Construction Director for Harry J. Palmer (Broadstone) Ltd. The firm, based in Wimborne Minster, Dorset, has been building high-quality, traditionally styled homes for more than 80 years.

Scott Stonham

Scott is Chief Technology & Innovation Officer at He has been at the forefront of many technologies we take for granted today, including mobile internet and smartphone navigation. Today he helps clients navigate innovative emerging technologies and is available for speaking opportunities.

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