Posts Tagged 'quantity surveyor'

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.


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!

Measurement, is it necessary anymore?

I’ve followed a discussion on LinkedIn recently where a student posted a comment seeking help on advice for the measurement of centre lines for some taking off he was doing. It caused quite an interesting conversation to develop that, instead of giving the guy the actual answer he was looking for, a whole debate ensued about the merits or otherwise of measurement.

One part of the debate centred on a clients view that he did not see it necessary to pay for a BOQ to be produced anymore, accepting that someone had to do it, but not his Consultant QS. His view being it gave him little or no value, so why pay for it.

It ended up in a traditional ‘old school’ view that BOQ’s are very necessary against a more modern and pragmatic approach, to what is really important in the process of construction quantification.

So should we be bothering to measure out all sorts of quantities in great detail anymore?

Or should we be taking a different approach?

This kind of continues on from my blog of last week about BIM and bills of quantities being on the way out.

I don’t think we’ll ever get away from the need from having to have projects quantified, as at some point someone has got to put either a cost plan or a budget together and eventually someone will end up constructing the project and will need to understand the basic component parts of it.

After all somewhere along the line the costs have got to be controlled, and with the correct quantification of the project you stand a very good chance of at least achieving that!

It’s just to what level of detail will you be going?

And who will it be produced by?

Man or machine?

Let me know what you think in my poll.

The Impossible – The Final Chapter

It’s been a month now since I told you about the client who expected us to perform the impossible so I thought I’d bring you up to date. Sadly, not all stories have a happy ending…

Client: We’re still not happy with the rate of progress you’ve been making.

GFP: I’m sorry to hear that, but as we explained we need input from your team to help us in our task, and their time has been limited unfortunately.

Client: Yes we’ve heard all that before, but this is just an excuse as far as we are concerned. You’re costing us a lot of money at the moment and we don’t seem to be getting anything in return.

GFP: Forgive me, but we aren’t trying to make excuses – we’re just trying to piece together all of the facts and information to be able to present the best case for you. That’s what you want from us isn’t it? The best return on the project?

Client: That’s what we don’t understand – why do you need to do that?! You’ve got all the records in that bundle over there, can’t you just make it up what you don’t know or haven’t got?

GFP: Well, errr, actually NO. We can’t just go making things up. We are providing a professional service, and our reputation relies on us being just that – professional. We need to present details that will stand up to scrutiny by a third party.

Client: That’s the problem; that approach is getting us nowhere and taking ages. We don’t have time for this! And besides, your fees are far too expensive for us.

GFP: Well I’m sorry to hear you feel that way about our fees, but they are what we agreed at the outset for the services you wanted. Is there anything we can do to help on this?

Client: No. We’ve decided we don’t want your help anymore. Leave the site by the end of the week.

The end 😦

The Impossible…

Certainly, miracles, well they take a little longer!

One of our site based surveyors came in to see me on Friday about the assignment he was working on and I couldn’t resist sharing his story with you.

Apparently the site surveyor working for our contractor client has been off sick for at least three months now. No surveyor has worked on the scheme for the last 2 months until they requested our involvement around four weeks ago. The reason: The client wanted some action from the contractor as variations were being missed! Great client.

So, we arrive as usual with a request to put things in order as quickly as possible. The task: To get on top of the compensation events. In excess of 100 of them!

GFP: When do you need us to get on top of it all by?

Client: Ah, well as soon as possible please.

GFP: What resources can you give us to help, what are your systems, and what do we need to adhere to?

Client: Oh we don’t know. We’ll tell you next week.

[Two weeks later…]

Client: Didn’t I tell you I was going on holiday now? What have you done in the meantime then?

GFP: Well, I’ve struggled to work my way round your systems. I’ve begged and borrowed from others to find out about your systems and have dealt with all sorts of subcontractors. After the first week, I managed to get a computer so I can log into your systems, I’ve put the files in order, read and understood the contract too (oh by the way, you didn’t tell us that there are five separate contracts, as there are five separate sites to control, each about £1M, all in different geographical locations…) So quite a bit I think!

Client: Huh, no progress on the compensation events then?

GFP: Well, errr, no actually not, but I’ve gone a long way to understanding your issues. But what I do need is the input from your site team to help me with understanding the resources you used on these issues as, remember, they all happened before I was here.

Client: Oh that’s mere detail, I’ll make the team available. Get on with the job won’t you!

And so the story goes…

All sound familiar?

Just a few days in the life of a professional quantity surveying support service!

I’ll keep you posted!

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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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