It was interesting to note Christopher Linnett’s comments on the increasingly short periods of time being allowed for contractors to tender for design-and-build enquiries (14 October).
The problems identified by Mr Linnett are often compounded when, having received a low enough tender bid, the employer then instructs the contractor to adopt a programme that requires an early start on site.
The design team is then expected to complete its design in an unrealistic timescale and again, more often than not, with little prospect of payment until the first draw-down from the project funders.
Contractors are often tempted to start on site without adequate information and with crucial issues such as access arrangements, boundary issues and party wall issues unresolved.
If you add environmental and ecological problems to the pot, it is not surprising that the project runs into delay because of “unforseen difficulties”.
The current review of the CDM regulations will hopefully pick up on these questions, and if it is decided that clients should be given increased responsibilities, perhaps it will make them give greater consideration to timescales and allocation of resources.
One proposal that has been put forward is for a minimum statutory period for mobilisation – this could be 30 days – or in some cases longer – and anecdotal evidence would certainly endorse such a requirement. Contractors would undoubtedly benefit from such a measure, and without the panic of getting on site quickly they might be able to reflect more on the issues that trip them up when pressure of time overwhelms clear and logical thought.
Tony Baker, director, A&T Consultants