How to get the best from your contractor

Early Contractor Involvement

The earlier you engage with a contractor, the sooner you can start to leverage their expert knowledge of cost, programme and buildability. In addition, early engagement allows more time to forge a strong relationship, encouraging open dialogue and collaboration from the start.

Engaging with your chosen contractor at the earliest opportunity, for example during the pre-construction and feasibility stage, is fundamental to ensuring that the budget you have secured is realistic and achievable. They can also help develop your project brief: a clearly defined brief from the outset will pay dividends throughout.  

Frameworks come in all shapes and sizes, and some have multiple delivery partners which means there is still an element of procurement time required. However, all frameworks procured by SCAPE are direct award. There is only one partner, meaning the tender process has already been completed for you and is compliant to all procurement regulations.  

A distinct advantage of direct award frameworks is that it gives access to your chosen contractor much earlier than standard procurement routes or multi-partner frameworks, enabling early contractor engagement and saving up to 20 weeks procurement time and associated cost.

To find out more about direct award, click here.

Managing risk

Having clarity over your risk management strategy, selecting a contractor and a form of contract that suits your requirements is essential. Be as open as possible about your risk appetite and what risks you expect your contractor to take responsibility for.

We use the NEC (New Engineering Contract) suite of contracts throughout our frameworks, as we believe these are the most effective for collaboratively managing risk.


When choosing your construction partner be sure that the rates they propose to charge are in line with the market and that they are regularly tested and audited.

Elements such as materials and works packages - the bulk of your project costs - should be subject to a fully transparent and open book tender process and presented to you with a minimum of three quotes for each option.

This process has been established to give you greater control over your project and to give you the confidence that your project will be delivered at the right price from the right local suppliers.

It’s becoming widely accepted that frameworks need careful management to consistently deliver best value. There are considerable benefits in utilising a national framework to ensure the delivery of value, for example, SCAPE group’s frameworks are underpinned by £12bn of buying power. In addition, all our delivery partners are audited by our Performance Management team on a regular basis to ensure that their labour rates are aligned with the labour cost index and that their material costs represent a true reflection of inflation and market forces. Together this provides you the confidence that you are getting value for money and that you are able to evidence this to your stakeholders.


We understand that frameworks aren’t always the best route to choosing a contractor however they can significantly reduce the time constraints associated with traditional procurement routes - meaning that you can progress your project and be onsite much faster.

The cost savings gained from reduced procurement times can then be redirected towards your project, allowing you to allocate more money to the physical build or higher quality materials.

Consistent delivery, local growth

Whether you’re delivering a small refurbishment or a significant regeneration programme, make sure that your construction partner has the same social value ethos as your organisation, whether that be apprenticeships, local community engagement or ensuring that spends stays local.

Be clear and stipulate your requirements up front and make sure that your construction and consultancy partner can evidence that they have met your criteria. If it is important to you, it should be important to your delivery team.

All our delivery partners are required to evidence significant socioeconomic investment in the economy using local labour and engagement with Small-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) whilst increasing employment opportunities for the local community. At SCAPE we drive optimum levels of social value and measure our delivery partner’s social value output using the National TOMs (Themes, Outcomes, Measures) measurements.

Skills requirement

Many projects require specialist skills such as asbestos removal, decontaminating sites or working within the regulations of a listed building, heritage site or a conservation area. When ensuring your contractor and their supply chain partners have the required skills to deliver your project, ask for evidence or a testimonial to provide the reassurances that the supplier has a proven track record of delivering similar projects.

In addition to the onsite capabilities, it is vital to have the management skills to administer the project via the chosen form of contract. Ensure that the brief is clearly defined, and the business case approved with feasibility and option appraisal included. Services such as these can be delivered via our Consultancy framework.

Fair payment

When choosing a partner, ensure that they commit to fair payment of their supply chain and that their invoicing terms are in line with your organisations’ expectations and values.

Through rigorous measurement we ensure that all delivery partners adhere to their framework agreement and pay their supply chain on time with payment periods not exceeding 30 days.

You can read more about the importance of fair payment on our responsible procurement page.