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REAL ESTATE

Solving contractual disputes

In my article last month I discussed some of the factors which contribute to contractual disputes during a construction project. This month I hope to provide some solutions that a design team can implement to minimise the problems.
The main goal is to achieve greater co-ordination between the architects, engineers and cost consultants and between the documentation they produce. The client may appoint an internal or external project manager to oversee, co-ordinate, organise and manage the various consultants appointed to realise the project. This allows the architect, engineers and cost consultants to concentrate on their specific tasks and allows clearer communication between the project team. However, any project manager will have difficulty managing poorly defined design contracts.


David Arneil

In my article last month I discussed some of the factors which contribute to contractual disputes during a construction project. This month I hope to provide some solutions that a design team can implement to minimise the problems.

The main goal is to achieve greater co-ordination between the architects, engineers and cost consultants and between the documentation they produce. The client may appoint an internal or external project manager to oversee, co-ordinate, organise and manage the various consultants appointed to realise the project. This allows the architect, engineers and cost consultants to concentrate on their specific tasks and allows clearer communication between the project team. However, any project manager will have difficulty managing poorly defined design contracts.

Developing a reference system between drawings, specification and schedules of quantities ensures greater co-ordination between the project documentation, therefore minimising errors and inaccurate assumptions by the contractor. The production of such a reference system can be achieved by a greater breakdown of trades in the specification and schedules of quantities, thus making it easier to divide information so that the contractor does not need to amend and edit before issuing to his respective sub-contractors.

A consistent reference system, supported by detailed section definitions, makes more effective reading between documents and gives greater consistency to technical content and descriptions, ensuring no conflict of information between documents.

The production of drawings and the accuracy of the information contained therein is of greater importance in relation to the accuracy of the project as a whole. This is pertinent for the information issued in the tender package, however, poor production of construction documentation can result in a low quality finish, poor cost control and failure to meet completion dates. It is important for the respective consultants to ensure that the information contained in drawings is accurate. Moreover, co-ordination between disciplines and trades is avoids conflicts on site.

Problems do not normally arise from a lack of co-ordination between major building elements but rather from individual components, for example between a concrete beam and an HVAC duct. Drawings should be checked in co-ordination with other disciplines. This requires good communication between the design team. Greater design management can be achieved with systems such as consistent drawing formats (i.e. scale), numbering systems, control of changes, schedules and annotation. It is also beneficial to use the same reference system as for the specification and schedules of quantities when indicating the individual elements and marking up drawings.

The techniques outlined above are intended to provide an insight into providing co-ordinated project information. The introduction of such a system should enable better coordination between disciplines and greater control over the production of the project documentation. In addition to the introduction of a system it is equally important that adequate resources are allocated to the project during the preconstruction phase. The result should be tender documentation which is accurate and complete.


David Arneil is Associate Director of Cost Management at Capita Beard Dove. His column appears monthly. Send comments or questions to d.arneil@capita.cz.

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