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CHANGING THE LANGUAGE OF SPECIFICATION

 

Have you ever spoken to a manufacturer and thought: “You just want to sell me something”?  It’s like: “You speak sales, I speak design”.  But are we really talking different languages?

 

At Knauf we wrestle with this issue every day.  We absolutely know that the best results come from early collaboration and engagement. What we offer at this early stage is knowledge.  Of course we know more about our products and system performance.  We should do, we design and test them.

 

However, all too often I get called into an architectural practice late on the project to fix a problem rather than help to design a great solution.

 

For example, perhaps there’s a performance issue around a wall that needs to be both fire-resistant and acoustically insulated.  If that question is asked after the construction issue drawings are complete and I tell you that the best system increases your wall width by 20mm you’re going to go nuts. 

 

It’s too late to change everything to accommodate that 20mm so we have to have design meetings and lean on assessments and consultants. The result could be a less effective solution that doesn’t look as good and in the end it’s likely to be more expensive than first thought.

 

To dismiss this scenario with a shrug and a: “This is construction – it happens all the time” attitude is simply short sighted.

 

Having that early discussion while still at RIBA Stage three would have allowed us to get the best solution that matched the required performance with appearance and provided robust manufacturer warranties through tested systems. So what’s stopping us working collaboratively from the start?

 

I think it’s about language.  No-one wants a “rep” to drop by for a “sales call”. What we all want is relevant input fast when we need it, from people who know what they’re talking about.

 

We know that specifiers understand that. In its 2017 report “What Specifiers Want”, NBS noted that 80% of architects believe better communication is needed with manufacturers to ensure product specification is effective.

 

Effective communication needs space and time – both of which are in short supply in any architects’ office.

 

So here is our pitch.  We’re here when you need us and we talk your language.  We may never be native speakers, but we can be fluent.  Technical understanding, ingenious product development, expert interpretation – it’s all easily accessible. Our common objective is to deliver great buildings that are safe, sustainable and enjoyable.

 

But – and there is one – the very best value comes from early consultation.  If you think Knauf is just about supplying a bit of plasterboard, think again.

 

Solutions for ceilings, floors, exterior and interior walls, wet areas, fire resistance and acoustic performance can all be provided to support your vision. They all need accurate detailing, particularly at the interface, and our warranties will only be effective where the component elements are used as part of the system they were designed for.

 

We provide full specification documents for all project support. We’re happy to work from your office if you would benefit from a bit of “on the spot resource”.  We’re happy to give lunch-and-learn CPD, provide technical information or, in the most emphatic demonstration of our commitment to collaboration, we are delighted to invite you to our Clerkenwell showroom for some design inspiration.

 

Talking costs nothing.  Not talking can be really expensive.

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