Architecture / June 14, 2018 / Oriane.
The notion of quality is multidimensional and includes aspects which may be appraised subjectively. The Latham Report identified a number of quality aspects which clients may seek in a satisfactory construction project: pleasing to look at; free from defects on completion; fit for the purpose; supported by worthwhile guarantees; satisfactory durability and customer delight. Several of these aspects are inherent in the design of the project, while others relate to how successfully the contractor constructs that design on site. The designers will aim to produce an effective and attractive spatial and structural solution to the clients brief. This should provide sufficient, well planned accommodation, using appropriate materials, components, equipment, fittings and furnishings to enable the building to perform effectively and efficiently. Ideally it should generate a sense of delight amongst it users and the public at large.
A project may be completed on time and within budget, but unless it achieves the specified quality or performance criteria it will be considered to be a disappointment or even an outright failure. High profile building failures such as Priory Hall only serve to strengthen the public concern expressed in the Egan Reports findings that 30% of buildings fail to meet the expectations of their owners. Such failures may be prohibitively expensive to rectify, dangerous and can ruin reputations overnight.
The contractor is selected on the basis of competitive tendering on most building contracts. The price which the contractor quotes for the job is heavily influenced by both the amount and intensity of the competition expected. In an open tendering arrangement the level of the competition is at its most intense and contractors must submit highly competitive bids to have any chance of winning the contract. This usually secures a rock bottom price. With selective tendering a limited number of competent contractors are invited to tender for the job, this limited competition arrangement results in a keen price being obtained. In the case of a negotiated tender there is no explicit competition and the parties seek to agree a fair price for the work, implicit competition exists, however, as the employer can break off negotiations. If there is no competition the contractor can, in fact, name his price. The tendering arrangement is, therefore, one of the most cost significant decisions a client will make in the course of a building contract.
Speedy completion is often required on commercial developments. The pressure to achieve early completion intensifies when financing and interest costs associated with acquiring the site begin to mount. Clients will seek the early appointment of a contractor in these situations to enable a fast start up on site and will favour fast track design approaches where the design is developed in parallel with site construction operations. Such approaches risk allowing insufficient time to identify or consider beneficial design options, and may, on occasion, lead to abortive working and losing time. Speedy construction on site often requires accelerated working and shift or overtime payments, more intense management presence, and the use of dependable subcontractors and suppliers, all of which add to the cost of the project. Fast track approaches rule out cost certainty and the client will become aware of the eventual cost only at an advanced stage of the project.