Rudi Klein (28 January, page 53) writes about the problems caused by a lack of risk management during the design process. Could such problems have also been compounded by the apparent demise of the bill of quantities?

I have invariably found design errors in the taking off I have done.

A few examples:

1. Drainage for a council housing estate. The second manhole from a house was over 3m deep. Something was wrong - the drain run was going against the slope, not with it. This required a major redesign with substantial savings in depths, lengths, etc - thankfully, before the tender was issued.

2. A fairly complex pitched slate roof. Some areas were impossible to construct.

3. Earthworks for a shopping centre. The architect’s drawings included a cross section stating fill to be “as dug material”, topped by whatever.

Tenders were invited against drawings and specification only. A series of lump sums and a schedule of rates (no doubt inflated) were obtained.

When reviewed, up went the cry of front loading. I was asked to expose the foul play (take off quants and apply the schedule of rates).

It was obvious. The cut and fill line was almost off the edge of the site, and that was with pre-demolition levels. The post-demolition levels had not been added, leaving the tenderers to guess.

My guess is that they allowed for 100% imported fill. The drawings also still included the bed levels of a diverted river, filled under another work package. This wasn’t stated. Poor risk management, or incompetence and negligence?

Arthur Gilbert