Architecture / June 2, 2018 / .
The relationship of quality to cost is often expressed in the saying that you get what you pay for. Cost is a critical factor in most building projects and some clients will seek a low price. Low price and maximum price competition, however, often have negative impacts on quality standards and achieving best value for money overall. In the current economic climate below cost tendering has heightened the risk of contractor insolvency and it may be difficult and expensive to obtain protection from this risk. Unrealistic and inadequate budgets often lead to projects becoming finance driven where cheaper options are preferred to better or more sustainable alternatives. Certain clients may have fixed budgets which may not be exceeded in any circumstances. In such circumstances the client will expect the quantity surveyor to maintain rigorous cost control during the project in order to deliver the project within budget. Designing to achieve such cost limits might curtail the introduction of beneficial features and or variations which may result in excessive running and maintenance costs later on.
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.
Many construction projects involve the design and construction of a building which is tailored to meet the clients specific requirements. No two construction projects are identical - there is no such thing as the average building project. The cost of the building will depend on its particular characteristics and these are largely determined by the architect. The design options are almost limitless and the resulting costs can be difficult to forecast reliably in many cases. On the other hand, certain types of buildings such as schools have well established cost histories and are usually subject to a cost limit.
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.