Today we chat with David Kidd, a construction management professional with nearly two decades of experience in project delivery and pre-contract management gained on multidisciplinary projects within the Structures, Marine and Three Waters sectors in New Zealand, the UK and the South Pacific.
In January 2021, David set up his own company Kidd Civil Consulting, which assists clients in the preconstruction space with bid management, early contractor involvement, design management and technical construction methodology development for both temporary and permanent works.
Q: You have a long and successful history working for typically large corporate civil engineering companies whilst holding Senior Delivery Management roles. Why did you decide to start your own company?
While very appreciative of the fact that working for these companies was how I got the exposure to the projects that provided me with the expertise needed to start Kidd Civil Consulting, I found that working on construction projects is a bit of a rollercoaster. One minute you are sitting around the office kicking tyres, and the next, you are burning the midnight oil to get the project started. Or a tender lands with four weeks to turn it around due to a client’s expectation that your new business team has nothing else to work on.
With a child very quickly approaching school age, preventing the traditional nomadic life of chasing projects, I spotted the need for companies to have a “construction management tap” that they could turn on and off as they needed to manage resources and for smaller companies that do not require a fulltime employee to access specific skills for projects they are targeting or delivering.
Q: We hear Kidd Civil Consulting has helped its clients across several different areas. What are the key services your company offers its clients, and which of these services do you get the most satisfaction/enjoy delivering the most?
Kidd Civil Consulting consults in construction management. Our core offering is to provide ‘plug and play’ resources to bid and project teams when companies are short on resources or need specific technical or leadership capabilities to bolster their team’s capability. A good example would be a roading contractor tendering a project with a bridge.
We also offer:
- Early Contractor Involvement Services
- Project and Bid Management
- Development of construction methods, temporary work systems and assistance with project mobilisation
- Programming and forensic delay analysis
- Assistance to designers with constructability and risk management through the design phase of projects
- Contract reviews and dispute resolution
- Training in contract and programme management for Project Managers.
Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) is when the client, designer and contractor come together as a team in the design phase of the project. Generally, this procurement method is used on very technical high-risk projects or when there are time constraints for delivery. It is extremely satisfying to help the project sponsor to achieve the outcomes they need while ensuring a fair risk allocation and a realistic budget are developed. We were excited to see the first ECI project that Kidd Civil Consulting has been involved with win its category at the National Civil Contractors New Zealand awards held in Ōtautahi – Christchurch this year.
Q: There has been a lot in the news around New Zealand’s future workload in civil infrastructure being North Island Centric – what are your comments around this?
I would agree that the North Island has significantly more Civil Infrastructure spending; this is a function of the population distribution, with the North Island having eight of the ten largest cities in New Zealand. The Christchurch and then Kaikoura earthquakes saw the New Zealand construction market rally to respond to the rebuild, but as a consequence, this resulted in a flooded construction market with companies fighting over significantly fewer projects post-rebuild.
We are seeing some action in the South Island vertical sector, with the Christchurch Stadium “kicking off” and the Dunedin Hospital underway. On the horizontal infrastructure front, the Inter-islander terminal upgrades (I-Rex) in Picton’s award is imminent. However, the North Island is the place to be for large-scale projects and where Kidd Civil Consulting delivers half of its workload.
Q: What do you think are the key challenges the NZ civil construction industry is currently facing?
I am starting to get feedback from some of the larger contractors that they have a sufficient backlog and are becoming very selective with what projects they are tendering to manage their already in-demand delivery resources. This, in turn, is creating budget issues for the project sponsor in terms of fewer contractors to get competitive pricing and cost escalation due to delays in getting projects to the ground.
Fair allocation of risk in construction contracts has long been an issue in the NZ construction industry. Though, it does look like there is light at the end of the tunnel. In a buoyant market, contractors can negotiate better terms. The standard form of contract NZS3910 is in the process of being reviewed, and the Construction Sector Accord are delivering a transformation plan over the next three years to address this issue amongst other things.
Three Waters reform is due for implementation on the 1st of July 2024. While not the Government desired outcome, its implementation has the potential to see a drop-off in Three Waters spending leading up to 2024 as the water assets are transferred, and currently, with an unclear landscape of how it will be implemented, companies that work in the Three Waters space are going to have to be agile to ensure that they are in a position to be able to procure projects when the transition takes place.
Q: How can Kidd Civil Consulting assist in mitigating these challenges?
We can assist contractors needing procurement and delivery expertise, particularly where there are client and design interfaces that need careful management or to target strategic pipelines of work such as Three Water panels. Clients that want to get their projects off the ground but need help with procurement strategy, risk, budget and constructability input would benefit from our ECI expertise.
Q: You’ve mentioned that Kidd Civil Consulting is very environmentally and sustainability conscious. What are you doing from a company point of view around this and why is sustainability so important to the civil construction industry?
This is a key focus for us as a business. We want to show that even small businesses must play their part, and we want to lead by example. I think that it is important to appreciate that sustainability goes hand in hand with running a successful business. Take a paperless office as an example – not buying printers, ink and paper results in CO2 savings and diverts waste from landfill, but also eliminates the costs of buying all these things in the first place. We don’t do anything particularly ground-breaking that other (larger) companies wouldn’t:
Manage our Footprint
- We have a plan to systematically reduce our CO2 emissions and become carbon zero.
- Until we reach carbon zero, we calculate our annual emissions using a company called Toitū and offset this carbon using certified offset schemes.
- We use procurement principles from the Infrastructure Sustainability Council: we procure locally where possible and think about the lifecycle impact of the item procured (how is it disposed of).
- We minimise our waste.
Manage our Handprint
Kidd Civil Consulting is in a privileged position that allows us to influence a handprint (our customer’s carbon footprint) by getting involved in the early stages of a construction project. We can help clients change construction methods to minimise CO2 and minimise waste.
Construction is a major contributor to CO2 emissions stemming from traditional construction methods which rely on carbon-intensive products such as concrete, steel and bitumen. The talented people who work in our industry understand that construction needs to be sustainable if we want to leave a habitable planet for our children. As the Government gets traction with their 2050 targets, the construction sector is going to see major incentives for achieving these reductions, which will require a major culture shift in how we work and significant advancements in technology to achieve these aims. An example of this is the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment funding WSP to investigate using biomass as a replacement for roading bitumen.
Q: Congratulations, You have successfully completed almost two years of running your own company! What comes next for Kidd Civil Consulting?
Thanks, that went very quickly. Aside from our core business, we have two focus areas in our adaptive strategy:
- Continue our sustainability journey and increase our sustainability offering for clients interested in meeting carbon reduction targets.
- Invest in our digital offering – by focusing on 4D where the construction method and programme (the fourth dimension) are run through 3D modelling software. Although it unsettles some of us who are more traditional types that like to hold a paper set of drawings, as we walk around the sites we see clients procure projects using 3D models only, which are used to procure, build and as-built projects.
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