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  • Writer's picturePeter Searle

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. Quote - Benjamin Franklin 1790

Are the projects you are working on adequately planned or are you suffering disruption?

Never has a quote been as relevant then as it is today. With construction projects, planning is a fundamental part of their success and we all love working on ones where everything flows smoothly. However, in many instances, project planning is not carried out thoroughly. Alternatively, there is not transparency with the project program, as contractors limit the information they share, in case it is used against them contractually.

Inevitably project delays and disruption will occur during construction if there is not a robust program. The main contractor should produce a construction program which takes account of the key milestones during construction. The construction program should then be worked back so that procurement occurs at the right time and information required from the specialist trades and end user does not compromise the construction program.

From experience there are two milestones which are critical for the smooth delivery of a building construction project. These achieving these milestones fully is usually a good reflection of how well a project is managed and the ultimate quality of the project. They are also clearly identifiable measures to determine the progress of a project and not achieving them fully, impacts to some degree on many trades and usually triggers delays and disruption.

The first milestone which is easily reviewed, and which incorporates a number of features of the building and its design, is “watertight”. To achieve this there should be no roof penetrations left open and the envelope complete. Without a watertight structure internal finishes commence with a high probability of creating problems with the build. To achieve a watertight structure, there are various building elements which can cause issues, if they are not dealt with early on. Examples at roof level can be caused by leaving part of the roof off to lower in of precast stairs and other specialist elements, builders work in connection with roof plant, installing the roof lights and the lift headroom. Issues associated with the walls can be the late delivery of windows & doors and the late detailing of connections to canopies, brise-soleil and balconies. All these examples are likely to require input from a specialist trade, who needs to be appointed in sufficient time to prepare details for incorporation by other contractors.

The second milestone which requires many components to be in place and and approved by 3rd parties is “Power on”. This is significant and it allows the pumps to be run and “heat-on” to occur. Heat on is significant as it allows the temperature and humidity in the building to be controlled. The NBS highlights activities which should only be carried out when the building has a certain humidity and drying out of the substrate is sufficient for the finishes it is going to receive. Placing ceiling tiles, laying floor finishes and the fixing of joinery are all susceptible to moisture. Thus commencing these activities normally requires heat-on or alternative temporary measures to be in place. In a new build “power on” is usually regarded as a triumph. Long before power is turned on, negotiations with the statutory authority should begin, and arrangements of metering put in place. Without power a building cannot be completed orderly.

Increasingly, the finishing trades and the fitting of equipment is reliant upon electrical, and data being installed. For this to occur the end user must make decisions about what is to be located where. End users sometimes do not see the urgency of making these decisions before first fix, when containment is being installed. Without this information, reworking is inevitable and costly.

The second element to “power-on” is lighting which suddenly brings a building to life. The testing, commissioning and final clean is best carried out with the lighting on and it confirms the building works are truly approaching the final stages in a carefully managed way.

Main contractors stipulate program information in their orders to trade contractors. How the information is stipulated varies. Nevertheless, there is an expectation that the trade contractor will comply and for this the trade contractor must assume the main contractor has considered all the trade contractors’ requirements to achieve the program. If, for what ever reason, the site does not meet the trade contractors’ requirements, delay and disruption will occur which will lead to costs being incurred. There is a protocol for analysing the amount of delay & disruption and who is responsible. Similarly for main contractors’, information flow from the client, or their agents, allows them to plan the project and keep to the contracted dates, but if the client does not comply with their contractual obligations, then delays are inevitable.

Are you in the situation where the “watertight” or “power on” milestones have not been fully achieved and you find yourself the victim of activities getting out of sequence on site because of less-than-ideal working conditions? If so, then book a demo of a tool we have developed to keep the records you will need to recover your additional costs, using the protocol.

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