CSA’s – They’re a waste of time!

The government, and most of the private sector too, is very committed to reducing costs in the construction process. The thing is most of the effort, quite rightly, focuses on site performance and delivery. But has anyone looked recently at the estimating and pre-tender stage? And in particular the amount of time the estimating teams put in to following some ridiculous CSA documents.

Here’s a few recent examples of ones I’ve come across and the first one gave me the reason to write this.

Example 1

Contractor sends the usual information by email, attached are some innocuous looking attachments labelled as section 2, section 3 etc.

Open the section 2 document and it’s a schedule for that part of the contract works (the project is in phases, and by the way it’s a school refurbishment project), so far so good.

Start reading

Room G01, stripping out items, several of them over 3 pages, that’s a lot of items for a small room. Keep reading…..Room G02, stripping out items, several of them over 2 pages, that’s a lot of items. Keep reading…..Room G03, stripping out items, several of them over 3 pages, this is getting repetitive now. Keep reading……….Room G04, more of the same………..

IMG_0832

100 pages later I’ve reached the end of the stripping out section!

Now start all over again for the re-instatement works, room-by-room element in detail by element in detail until we get to page 224.

The END.

For section 2!

Then we have a repeat for sections 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. A whopping 945 pages long!

The brief for the contractor price every single item in full on the CSA please otherwise we won’t consider your tender.

Our brief measure every single item out in the CSA in full in that order.

Now I’m all for keeping busy and working hard, but this is just beyond me as to why someone would want this…………….unless of course you have

a) a lazy consultant qs who cannot produce a cost plan in the first place for his client, and is therefore using the tender document from the contractors to work out what the client can afford or,

b) a consultant qs who quite simply does not comprehend the inordinate amount of work and effort required by the contractor to price such a document, or

c) please insert your own answer here

Example 2

Same story, contractor sends the usual information via a portal website this time, result much the same. Innocent looking information arrives. 5 sites this time in separate locations. Need I say more. Please price the same scope of works (all houses and flats of very similar nature) 5 times over please keeping the costs for all sites separate.

Example 3

I think you get the gist…………I could go on

 

The thing is how does the supply chain react when receiving such documents?

We all know the answer to that, as we aren’t exactly quiet right now are we?

 

 

Some things never change…

pexels-photo

Some things never change do they?

I was just looking back at some old postings and re-read with interest my thoughts on
‘time to tender’, and I really can’t believe that nothing much has changed, or has it…..

Probably, as back then I was referring mainly to cds and dvds.

Now they are a thing of the past too and its all shared files/folders and portals.

Was it only 5 years ago that I made those comments?

The thing is despite everyone’s best endeavours (like that phrase – well the legal boys do) we are still in much the same place. Well us on the receiving end of what is churned out by professional design teams that is.

You see there still is no standard way in which information is distributed, filed or catalogued on any project, let alone two projects that might even be the same!

Why can we not get our act together and issue things in a sensible and logical fashion?

Everytime I receive a link to a download I click to get the information wondering how long its going to take me to understand what I’ve been sent, let alone what might be missing.

Will BIM give us some form of structure, will the professional bodies get together and put some order to things. I just don’t see it………….. I’d just better get on with it I suppose and deal with……………it’s just that it’s such a waste of time and resource, and that’s what irks me!

If you’ve time take a look at the Government Construction Strategy document for 2011 that I referred to, and then look at the 2016 version. Apparently we are now going to make 33% savings as opposed to 20% savings!

 

 

Two stage tendering with a twist

Here’s a variation on a theme for two stage tenders………..

How many have you been used to the traditional way of two stage tendering, simply price the prelims and give a percentage for profit and overheads.

Two stage tendering

Well maybe no more.

How many of you have seen this, or variations on this of late? Two stage tender, first stage is for the usual priced aspects of prelims, overheads and the like but now here’s the twist….

A large element of the project is to be priced and fixed at the first stage.

Other elements are to be budget costs, although in reality a design does exist and is provided with the tender documents.

I’ve seen this twice in the last month having never seen this before.

What do you think to this, a good way forward?

Is this the start of clients being able to avoid getting the run around after months of negotiations with a contractor only to find their budget has been blown?

Or is it something Contractors will shun viewing it as a risk not worth entertaining in the current economic climate for them?

Oh and by the way it’s a design and build project too, but you guessed that anyway.

I’m back

Well it’s been a long while but I’m ready to start to write again, apologies for the delay. It feels like I’ve had a long period of writers block!

What’s happened since I was away?

Well I joined the corporate world to work at Driver Project Services and what a great experience that was. There are some good people at Driver and I wish them every success for the future. The thing is the corporate world just isn’t for me.

So here I am on my own starting out again and wondering what to write about, and my minds gone blank, or vacant, or just rusty…………however some things never change do they? Or is it just me getting old……..probably, I hear you say.

But here are the themes I’ve heard from some of the senior people that I’ve met in the recent years:

  1. Why don’t they teach measurement anymore?
  2. Why don’t they teach measurement?
  3. Why?

Then theres…….

  1. Why aren’t there any good qs’s anymore
  2. Why aren’t there any good qs’s
  3. Why?

Followed by……..

  1. Why do we rush to start things half baked?
  2. Why do we rush?
  3. Why?

Lots of Why’s and not much action by anyone to do too much about it I hear you say. True. And we are guilty of that.

So what to do?

I don’t have the magic answer it’s been a series of small incremental changes to get to where we are now. Is it for the best? Us old folks don’t think so much. But younger folks think what’s all the fuss about, move with the times, use the technology, be brave, be adventurous, be collaborative, embrace technology and……………….be BIM

bim1

Better stop there, don’t get me talking yet about BIM and what I’ve seen and heard of what’s happening in the real world with this………I’ll save that for later!

Bye for now, more another week……………………….

BIM Rubbish In…….Rubbish Out!

It’s been a while………but here’s a link to a guest blog I’ve done for Pauley Creative on my thoughts on BIM ……..

2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,500 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

We’ve done it all before…

I read with interest the article in ‘building’on Friday by Paul Morrell titled making a Virtue of Necessity and what struck me from his message most of all was that we’ve done all what he’s looking for before!

The essence of the message I get from him and the cabinet office document ‘Government Construction Strategy’ is for change through liked minded individuals, companies groups and organisations. Yes we need an educated client with consistent application and yes we need an integrated proposition from the industry too.

And here’s my experience  – it’s all been done before in the private sector!

Who and how?

With Bovis Construction (as then) and M & S.

When?

Way back on 13th December 1945 at Stepney Green is when it all began……we never learn do we?

 How did it work?

Simple really……….

The client had a need to build new stores to expand after the war and it integrated Bovis along with the professional team to do just this.

The client had an expansion programme that Bovis worked with, so it new in advance what was being built and where so resources could be planned and managed

A select supply chain was established so buying power could be used, preferred rates/prices and/or schedules of rates were set up across the country.

You knew if you were working on a store in Epsom that a ‘Truro’ pelmet detail meant that it was the same detail that had been used at the Truro store.

The contracts were simple, Bovis was paid a fee for its management skills and expertise, the supply chain prices were transparent through to the client too.

At the outset of the project an estimate of prime cost was established with Bovis and the consultant qs and you worked together as a team to make it work – on the same side with the same objectives.

The contract to the subcontractors were 2 sides of paper – the thing that nobody liked on it was the infamous pay when paid clause – but that’s now outlawed isn’t it?

And it worked because everyone trusted each other throughout the entire process

So here you are Mr Morrell here’s the blue print for your strategy –it’s a document called The building process – a case study from Marks and Spencer Limited published in 1970 you’ll have to get hold of it from the national archives mind.

Here’s three quotes for you from ‘building’ magazine in July 1970 on the document too…..

  1. It is the forward looking methods employed, the enlightened manner in which primary and secondary objectives are defined, the effective co-ordination of multi-disciplinary skills and attitudes and the mutual trust and respect created by the relationship enshrined in the Marks and Spencer/Bovis method of procedure that some future improvements in the general management of building should be sought…..
  2. The case study highlights the fact that Marks & Spencer over the years consistently have simplified procedures by reducing the amount of paperwork employed and in consequence the company has placed increasing reliance upon direct personal contact and individual responsibility. The combined effect of these twin objectives has been to create a real feeling of belonging to the Marks & Spencer organisation whether the individuals concerned are directly or indirectly employed.
  3. The long and close relationship between the staffs of Marks & Spencer, their professional design teams, of Bovis and of various specialist sub-contractors must have contributed in large measure to the success story recounted in the bulletin and in particular to the recent development and application of computer techniques to location billing, material scheduling, manpower planning, expenditure control and the monitoring of progress.

I found my copy of a commemorative brochure produced by Bovis in 1970 to celebrate the long working relationship, and for these quotes. It is also the source of the pictures and quotes….couldn’t find anything on line at building!

So…….it’s been done before……… and it worked!

P. S. The document produced by Bovis is a fascinating read and if they let me I’ll try and make it available on line, its quite a story!


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About Me

I’m now the Managing Director of Mynott Associates Limited my own specialist measurement business. I’ve been in the industry all of my life since I left school. My first job was with Bovis Construction as a management trainee where I trained to become a quantity surveyor. I’ve worked for contractors all through my career, I am FRICS, FCIOB and MCIHT qualified and act as an RICS assessor. I’m also a keen Arsenal supporter having followed them from a young boy

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