Professional And Site Teams
LEONARD SALES has been in the construction industry for 27 years and has learned from experience that the clients who demand the highest standards and who are willing to work in conjunction with the contractor are the ones who generally get their projects finished on time and to budget. Len is based in Thorpe Bay, Essex.
THE CONSTRUCTION TEAM
Construction companies are usually categorised as large, medium or small. It is the small companies which usually carry out domestic work, which as a rule of thumb for a two-storey extension to a three-bedroom terraced house could be in the region of £25-£35,000, whereas an extension to a large 4-5 bedroom detached house could be in the region of £50-£100,000.
Obviously these figures can vary considerably depending on specification. However, this type of work would normally be carried out by companies categorised as small.
Since this guidebook is aimed mainly at the domestic market, I will not go into detail about the different roles of the professional departments within large and medium-sized companies. However, the organisation chart presented in Figure 11.1 will give you a picture of the typical management structure of a small company.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF SITE MANAGEMENT
Site managers do not usually carry out any practical work and are normally appointed to projects which require close coordination of subcontractors and precise continuity of material. These projects would normally be in the range of £400,000 and upwards. However, on projects that are technically difficult or have a very tight timescale, the range could start as low as £150,000.
It is the site manager’s duty to ensure that the day-to-day running of the site is carried out to meet the regulations that are laid down by the construction industry regulatory bodies. He must ensure that site personnel are adequately trained and competent for the tasks which they are being asked to carry out.
Site managers are usually given the responsibility to make decisions which have a direct bearing on the site and the well-being of anyone affected by it. This would include the client, visitors (whether invited or not) and the immediate neighbours, among many others.
If the site manager is unable to satisfy your requirements for any reason, it is at this point that you should contact his superior. This could be the contract manager or director of the company.
If the project does not warrant a full time site manager, there must be an appointed person who is responsible for the site activities and health and safety requirements such as first aid etc. Site managers who work on the domestic side of construction generally tend to come from a trade background and therefore have a very good understanding of all of the elements involved.
Site managers will not only take on the responsibility of coordinating the labour and material, they will also be responsible for requesting information from the professional teams. There are systems for managing sites which ensure that the flow of information once the project is underway does not significantly slow the project down.
Where there is a significant complication or delay which could not have been foreseen, this will be recorded and raised with the architect or contract administrator, who will in turn consult with the client to resolve the situation. The consequences of the problem will be brought up at the next site meeting.
Good site managers will request information well in advance of actually needing it on an RFI (request for information) sheet, with dates for when they require the answer. When they are given verbal instructions either by telephone or on site, these will be recorded on a CVI (confirmation of verbal instruction) sheet.
It is not unusual to end up with many RFIs and CVIs, as it is unlikely that all potential problems have been taken into account, particularly on older properties, as explained in Chapter 2.
The site foreman would normally have a ‘hands-on’ role and carry out physical work, but would also be expected to make decisions affecting the work and would coordinate the operations on site, including the ordering of material etc.
The foreman would usually be instructed by his head office in matters of the specification of work, and as such would not be expected to act on information from the client, unless he has been given the training and responsibility to record and communicate any changes or revisions to the specification.
Some companies may have different titles for their personnel on site and may refer to a person who is managing a site and not working himself, as a site foreman. The difference between a site foreman and a site manager lies in the level of responsibility for decision-making, and therefore a person’s title may not describe their role accurately.
The subcontractor would normally be on a fixed price to the builder for his specific area of work, i.e. roof tiling, ceramic tiling, central heating, electrics, etc. Subcontractors will not usually carry out any changes to the specification which affect their work without prior instruction from the main contractor.
Due to the uncertainty of the construction industry with regard to continuity of work, many builders will employ individuals who are effectively subcontractors. However, if they are supplying labour only on a daily rate, it is widely accepted that they work for the builder as an employee.
The main contractor would normally supply and install the main building material on projects of a reasonable size as this is a major part of the continuity of any project and is an element where profit is built into his price.
Where you the client are supplying material such as kitchen or bathroom equipment, you must be mindful that if your supplier lets you down and this has an effect on the progress of the project, the builder would have a legitimate claim for extension of time.
These problems can become even worse if the builder is using a subcontractor, for example to install your kitchen. If the allocated time is not achieved due to the material not being available, the builder may also have a claim against you to cover the subcontractor’s time lost. This is something that needs to be thought about, and your suppliers will need to see copies of the programme with your order to ensure that they can deliver on time.
If you are considering supplying your own kitchen or bathroom equipment, it is advisable either to have them in your possession prior to the project starting or to have the builder leave the room ready to receive the equipment. You can then organise the labour element once you have the equipment.
Most builders prefer to supply their own material as this is an area where they make a profit on the trade discounts to which they are entitled. Your specification should detail the material and it is worth paying close attention to this as some builders may choose to use an alternative that is inferior to that stated in your specification.
If possible, it is worth obtaining samples of skirting, architrave, tiles and any materials that you know the builder is supplying as detailed in the specification. This will enable you to make comparisons with the material that is eventually brought to site for use on your project.
Nominated suppliers and subcontractors
Nominated suppliers and subcontractors are those appointed by the client and accepted as part of the construction team by the main contractor. The builder/contractor takes full responsibility for the nominated suppliers or subcontractors, although he has the right to refuse to instruct them if reasonable grounds exist.
Health and safety
It is the responsibility of the builder to work in accordance with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. These Acts and Regulations are very comprehensive. However, there are basic duties of care that the builder owes to his employees and anyone who is associated with the project.
A small building company would normally use a health and safety consultant to advise them on their obligations and responsibilities. These are to:
- secure the health, safety and welfare of people at work;
- protect people other than those at work against risks to their health and safety arising from work activities;
- control the keeping and use of explosive or highly flammable or otherwise dangerous substances, and generally prevent people from unlawfully having or using such substances.
If you feel that these obligations are not being adhered to, you must bring it to the attention of the builder/contractor in order for him to address the problem.
If the problem continues, it is advisable to seek advice from your local health and safety executive.
THE DESIGN TEAM
On larger projects where a project manager has been appointed the client’s main involvement would be at the initial concept stages and in budgeting details. Project management concerns the effective control of projects in land, real estate and construction.
Project managers are responsible for controlling or coordinating the whole development process. Project managers represent their client to ensure increased efficiency, economy, communication and successful completion of projects based on the original client brief.
There are different fee structures that can be used, such as a lump sum price or a percentage of the overall spend. The latter would normally be put in place where there are likely to be changes in the specification due to circumstances such as unknown ground conditions or if structural elements need to be calculated as the project proceeds.
These are specialists in building design and construction techniques. The training for both is similar in many respects, the difference being that architects specialise in concept design issues while technologists specialise in construction and technology. Traditionally appointed as lead consultant or project leader, they may be involved from inception through to completion on larger projects.
Chartered surveyors cover a diverse range of specialist activities dealing with land, property and development. Below are just a few of the specialist areas.
Building surveying is one of the widest areas of practice. Chartered building surveyors cover all aspects of property and construction from supervising multi-million pound projects to planning domestic extensions.
Building surveyors are experts in investigating problems, diagnosing and remedying defects, and advising on possible consequences and alternative solutions.
Commercial property surveyor
The work of a chartered surveyor in this area covers all types of real estate used for business purposes. Professional services cover the following:
- purchase, sale and leasing of real estate;
- management (of all resources including both human and financial);
- landlord and tenant;
- corporate real estate;
- investment (advice for investment appraisal etc.);
- development and planning;
- real estate finance and funding.
The work of a chartered surveyor in this area covers all types of real estate used for residential purposes. Professional services include:
- agency purchase, sale and leasing of residential real estate;
- management of public and private residential property;
- landlord and tenant;
- valuation and survey of residential property;
- investment (advice for investment appraisal etc.);
- development and planning.
The quantity surveyor may be appointed at an early stage in a project to advise the client and design team of construction costs and procurement methods.
On larger projects where a bill of quantities is required, the quantity surveyor will undertake the measuring and scheduling of the building materials to enable the contractors to price accurately. A bill of quantities is a document which details fairly accurately the amount of materials that will be used on the project. The quantity surveyor may also prepare tender packages consisting of contracts and documentation, and also provide cost control by way of valuations and certification of payments to the contractor during the construction phase.
A structural engineer will advise on structural solutions to building designs. He may advise and calculate the size of structural components and foundations etc. Generally, the stability of the structure is his responsibility and he will provide all calculations and details to the local authority for approval as necessary.
Environment and other service engineers (mechanical and electrical consultants etc.)
In designing modern structures, many building, environment and other services such as heating and air conditioning, need to be considered. The services consultant will provide design solutions (layout drawings, specifications, etc.) to accompany the architectural design and tender packages. Their work may include the following:
- plumbing (hot and cold water supplies);
- ventilation (natural and mechanical, air conditioning);
- communications (lifts, escalators, etc.);
- air conditioning.
Party wall surveyors (all types of projects)
Party wall surveyors are specialists providing advice and services relating to the Party Wall Act 1996. The Act provides a framework for preventing and resolving disputes in relation to alterations and extensions near neighbouring buildings.
Facilities management (large organisations)
Facilities management is the total management of all services to support the core business of an organisation. Using ‘space planning’, the facilities manager can implement office relocations of any size and complexity.
Facilities managers will look at the best use of space, and find suitable technology solutions, human resources and safe surroundings. Consideration will be given to legal responsibilities such as health and safety, fire protection and escape, access and security.
Planning supervision (mainly commercial projects)
The role of the planning supervisor was created under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994, to monitor and improve health and safety issues relating to building design and construction works. These regulations came into effect during 1995, giving the client or the client’s contract administrator a statutory responsibility to appoint a competent person to the role of planning supervisor to coordinate health and safety matters relating to building projects.