Our research team was led by Ed McCann and Tom Barton.

Ed McCann is a Director of Expedition Engineering where he is known as an innovative designer with a practical bent. He was Expedition’s project director on both the London 2012 Olympic Velodrome and the Infinity Bridge in Stockton. He is a Vice-President of the ICE and is also a Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor of Innovation at Strathclyde University.

Tom Barton is a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers. He has had over 40 years’ experience working firstly with John Mowlem and Company and for the last 18 years with Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd working on some significant projects mainly in the UK but also overseas. Tom was the Deputy Regional Manager (London and South East) for Sir Robert McAlpine, and before that a Director at John Mowlem & Co. plc.

Their principal assistant was Bruce Martin, Associate Director, Expedition Engineering, MIStructE. The literature review was completed by Kell Jones, Research Engineer, Chartered Accountant and Architectural Planner, Expedition Engineering and University College London.

Our method

We adopted a version of the “Grounded Theory” research method for this project. Rather than a classical research approach where you postulate a hypothesis and then attempt to prove or disprove it, the Grounded Theory Method sets questions and then attempts through investigation to identify the most plausible answers.

Our research questions were:

  •  What are the principal systemic errors in the UK construction industry?
  •  What are the causes of error in the UK construction industry?
  •  What are methods used to capture information about the financial cost of error in the UK
    construction industry?
  •  What are the most effective methods for avoiding error and minimising the consequences of error?

We used three methods to collect data:

  •  A workshop with the steering group
  •  Structured interviews with the members of the steering group and a number of other companies in
    the sector
  • Collection of quantitative data relating to individual error occurrences.

This included:

  • A descriptions of each of the errors
  • A description of the causes of each of the error occurrences
  • An assessment of the financial cost of each of the error occurrences.

This information was collected from the participants in the structured interviews.

The data was analysed by the Get It Right Initiative team as it was collected. The emerging findings were discussed in steering group meetings to draw on the expertise of the Steering Group members for the identification of theories.

The structured interviews were completed and the quantitative data was collected on the basis that no information would be published that would allow any opinion, error, defect, error incidence rate or defect incidence rate to be linked to a particular company or individual.


Our research was supported by the CITB, through their Growth and Innovation Fund, and some 16 major companies in our industry. These companies provided much of the data for the research.