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Inside Interbuild

For the first time Civils and Pipelines took place alongside the Interbuild show. Alastair McLellan reviews the great construction gathering.

Visitors to the first day of Interbuild 2000 were welcomed by Tony Blair.

Those attending the show four days later learned of the first ever delivery of construction materials ordered over the internet.

In between, industry leaders met to discuss the next move for the Egan initiative, the finest young craftsmen and women were celebrated in the Skillbuild competition, cowboy builders found themselves targeted by not one, but two new initiatives and some serious business was done.

The Millennium Dome may or may not deliver 'one amazing day', Interbuild certainly was one amazing week.

Sunday 21 May

Sunday is the day when Interbuild traditionally welcomes the one man bands and small builders who lack the time and the expense accounts to visit during the week. Recognising that many would be turning up with kids in tow, the exhibition provided a creche and Bob the Builder was on hand to entertain the mewling masses.

The Prime Minister Tony Blair sent a welcome message to the show, as did Leader of the Opposition William Hague. Others throwing their weight behind the exhibition included flamboyant Changing Rooms star Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and former site worker and Royle Family patriarch Ricky Tomlinson, who delivered the immortal testimonial: 'Other exhibitions my arse!

Get yourself down to Interbuild 2000 and see what's on offer'.

In Halls 8 and 9 the Civils and Pipeline build-up continued, happily without the problems encountered on Saturday when Interbuild contractors threatened to down tools unless they were provided with TV sets to watch the FA cup final.

Monday 22 May

Day two of Interbuild 2000 played host to the second conference held by the Movement for Innovation, the body set up to help the construction industry meet the efficiency challenges of the 1998 Egan report. The conference heard the results from many of the 200 demonstration projects identified by M4I as showing the way forward for the industry.

Out in the NEC's halls, visitors were soon realising that their feet were in for a serious pounding. With a record 1,500 exhibitors, the shows was 70% bigger than in November 1997 when it was last held.

Tuesday 23 May

The day began with a crisis as news spread that Bob the Builder had been struck down with a mystery illness. Luckily a cartoon character of an older vintage, the Pink Panther, was on hand to help out and the day's corporate stunts could get under way.

Elsewhere, Interbuild visitors were getting the chance to learn how to break the biggest construction market in the world - China - at a seminar organised by the Construction Products Association.

Wednesday 24 May

Quality was the watchword on day three of the show. Leader of the House of Commons Margaret Beckett called for higher standards of prefabricated buildings. She told a seminar organised by the National Prefabricated Building Association that it was 'vital the industry demonstrates that prefabricated buildings are not a bland solution and that high standards of design are possible'.

The Federation of Masterbuilders was also pressing for higher standards. It had teamed up with the building control inspectors from 400 local authorities to promote an FMBbacked 10 year guarantee against shoddy workmanship, materials and structural defects.

Coming two days after Construction Minister Nick Raynsford announced at Interbuild that the government-backed 'beat the cowboys' scheme had signed up its first squeaky clean contractor, it made for a bad week for the industry's ne'er do wells.

Thursday 25 May

Today was deal day, when exhibitors totted up the orders taken during the show and then rushed to rebook for Interbuild 2002 (see page 14).

Research during the show identified 11 companies expecting to place orders of more than £10M with Interbuild exhibitors.

Three exhibitors had already received orders running into eight figures.

A much smaller, but more significant deal, was also completed on Thursday. A packet of bricks and three lintels were delivered to a Francis Jackson Homes site in Northants. The materials had been ordered at Interbuild the day before through Construction Intelligence, the new online product specification and purchasing tool from Construction Plus, www.constructionplus.co.uk.

And that was that. A cheer from the weary exhibitors greeted the announcement over the public address system that the show was closed. As the stands were dismantled, sales teams swapped notes and reviewed their performance, the planning for 2002 had already begun.

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