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BUILDING SOLUTIONS

Project coordination often at fault

At the end of February this year my column discussed the ways in which a lack of coordination in project information leads to lost time and cost increases.
In this and my next column I will focus more closely on minimising cost and time overruns through effective project co-ordination.
In many instances the major contributory factor to contractual problems is the poor quality of project documentation, i.e. drawings, specifications and in some cases schedules of quantities caused by a lack of co-ordination between the architect, engineers and cost consultant and their respective documentation packages. Thorough pre-planning can minimise the problem.


David Arneil

At the end of February this year my column discussed the ways in which a lack of coordination in project information leads to lost time and cost increases.

In this and my next column I will focus more closely on minimising cost and time overruns through effective project co-ordination.

In many instances the major contributory factor to contractual problems is the poor quality of project documentation, i.e. drawings, specifications and in some cases schedules of quantities caused by a lack of co-ordination between the architect, engineers and cost consultant and their respective documentation packages. Thorough pre-planning can minimise the problem.

It is normal in Slovakia for the architect to manage the project on behalf of the client. This will include the management of the design team, the permitting processes and appointment of the contractor. It is also common that the architect does not have in-house engineers and normally subcontracts out those services. This means that most of the project documentation packages are produced in several different offices, each with their own procedures and regimes. The problems of such fragmentation can be exacerbated when the client appoints international designers whose scopes of works are not co-ordinated with their local partners.

The appointment of cost consultants to manage the project cost and tender process is becoming more common. During the tender process the cost consultant will produce the clients' requirements, tender return document, contract and in some cases schedules of quantities. Although the drawings and specifications are the base documents on which the clients' requirements and schedules of quantities are produced, these documents are normally produced separately and independently from the design team.

In addition, there is a great divide between the level of detail required for tender documentation and the permit process. Due to tight procurement programmes it is normal for the preparation of tender documentation and the tender process to run in conjunction with the formal building permit application. It is therefore common for the tender documentation to be prepared and issued without following thorough quality procedures and the level of detail in most cases is insufficient for the contractor to provide an accurate tender return. With international contracting it is common practice for the tender set of drawings to be the construction set.

This is not common in the Slovak Republic, where a two stage process can add further confusion to the tender process.

Lack of co-ordination between the tender documentation and missing information will result in the contractor having to make assumptions and best-guess the project documentation and clients' needs. If this proves accurate no problem will arise, unless of course, a competing contractor makes an error resulting in a lower tender return.

More often than not errors in project documentation will remain undiscovered until the works have commenced on-site. It is at this point that problems arise, causing claims for additions and delays to the programme.

Next month: some solutions.

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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