Our services would normally comprise meeting with the design team and client to ascertain the brief and particular requirements and providing initial cost advice on the likely cost of the works. At this stage it might be necessary to prepare a target cost plan if the client has a fixed budget but does not have an agreed design. This target cost plan will help to inform the design team of the level of specification that is possible within the available budget. Where the brief is better defined and an outline scheme has been agreed we will prepare a cost plan based on measured works as far as possible with reference to costs of previous similar projects where the specification is not defined.
For works involving repairing historic buildings we would normally visit the building with the Architect to ascertain the likely scope of repairs, etc and measure and value the works based on previous experience and current market rates.
At this stage we would develop and update the cost plan. We would seek to firm up provisional allowances based on further developed design information including input from MEP consultants and Structural Engineers as appropriate. At this stage we would be seeking to bring more cost certainty to the project in order to reduce the Client’s exposure to financial risks.
Cost guidance for alternative materials and forms of construction can be given at this stage.
We are currently undertaking training in respect of BIM (Building Information Modelling) in order to obtain a RICS BIM Manager Certification.
It is imperative that all forms of procurement and forms of contract are considered and the most appropriate methods selected for each individual project. We are able to provide advice to clients based on our extensive experience of many years. There are a number of common methods to procure construction works including traditional tendering using Bills of Quantities or Quantified Schedule of Works, Specification and Drawings, two stage tendering, negotiation, cost plus, construction management and Design and Build. Each method has it’s own advantages and disadvantages and we will consider these and advise on the most appropriate form.
Assistance with grant applications
We have worked on numerous projects that have received funding from organisations such as English Heritage and Heritage Lottery Fund. We are able to assist with grant applications and management. We are fully aware of the regulations relating to competition and achieving best value that will need to be demonstrated to such organisations. Our tender documentation will be prepared in such formats to allow costs to be easily identified to assist with grant applications where necessary.
Wherever possible we believe that full measured Bills of Quantities should be prepared as this provides an excellent tool for controlling the cost of any variations and for agreeing the proper values to be included in valuations for Interim Certificates. We are now preparing our Bills of Quantities in accordance with the RICS New Rules of Measurement 2.
Quantified schedule of works
On some projects we advise that Quantified schedule of works are prepared. This might be appropriate for works to existing buildings or for works repair works where it is more appropriate to separate the works according to location rather than on a trade basis.
Advice on sufficiency of tender documents
Some projects do not lend themselves to the full production of a pricing document or do not warrant such a service. In these circumstances we are able to consider the documents prior to being issued to tendering contractors to ascertain if there are any areas that are not fully covered or that are likely to lead to misinterpretation by the tenderers and advise on possible amendments to the proposed documentation. This service can help save a considerable amount of time at a later stage and even help to eliminate claims.
Checking tenders received
As part of the process of reporting on the tenders received, we will carry out a detailed check of the lowest tender. This will involve examining each rate included by the contractor, comparing them with any other similar work priced by the contractor and listing all high and low prices for reconsideration by the tenderer. The tenderer will then be asked to propose corrected rates and after considering the effect of the corrections on this tender he will be asked if he is prepared to stand by his original price. This process helps ensure that the items are priced correctly and will reduce conflicts and claims if variations are instructed. We will also consider any qualifications included by the tenderer that is under consideration.
A recommendation will be issued based on the outcome of our tender report and further discussions with the preferred tenderer.
Advising on the selection of contractors including taking an active role in the interviewing of tendering contractors and assisting with ascertaining best value for the client.
Preparing contract documents and issuing to both parties for signature and approval
For some time it has been recognised that to merely evaluate the costs of a project on the basis of its initial cost alone can be misleading. A cheaper constructed facility may in the long term be far more expensive than one with higher initial costs.
Life cycle costing is an evaluation technique that enables comparative assessment of the performance of a project or a constructed facility over its operating life. The life cycle costing assessment process not only takes into account the characteristics of the constructed facility, reusability, sustainability, maintainability and obsolescence, but also the initial capital cost, operational cost, maintenance cost, residual and disposal costs. Therefore, both the economic and non-economic performances of the constructed facility can be assessed.
As part of the life cycle costing element of our service we will monitor the life cycle costing analysis. The objectives of life cycle costing are to consider the impact of all costs rather than only the initial capital costs, to enable alternative constructed facilities to be more effectively evaluated, and to assist the effective management of a completed facility. Best value for money can therefore be achieved for our clients.
We are actively involved in Value Engineering processes when required. Along with the design team we seek to solve problems, identify and eliminate unwanted costs, while improving function and quality.
We are able to bring our vast experience of many forms of construction and materials to the VE discussions and provide guidance on the various options being considered. Although Value Engineering is generally formally considered after tenders have been received we informally engage in VE all during the pre construction period.
It is a policy of our practice to undertake the post contract quantity surveying duties that we feel should be entrusted to the quantity surveyor and not passed on to the contractor. We will visit site regularly during the post contract period to take site measurements and ascertain the extent of any varied works. We would meet the contractor on site to prepare the monthly valuations and report to the Architect. Similarly, we would prepare the final account for agreement with the Contractor. We do not believe that these tasks should be entrusted to the contractor as an element of financial control will be lost. Their willingness to undertake duties that are properly ours must indicate that they perceive that a financial advantage can be obtained.
During the progress of the works on site we will provide guidance on the estimated final cost. These financial appraisals will be prepared at regular intervals as necessary and will indicate the effect of any variations issued and other possible changes or claims. Advice can be given for the cost effect of any variations that are being considered prior to instruction to the contractor.
Change control registers can be provided and maintained if required.
Detailed cashflow forecasts are prepared to predict expenditure in the project cycle, initially based on anticipated patterns of spend on similar projects. The cash flow forecast can then be linked to the contractor’s programme and updated in accordance with actual expenditure. The cash flow forecast is often for construction costs only but can also include professional fees and all other costs associated with the project.
Instructions are valued by us and guidance provided in a timely manner to ensure that the design team and client are aware of the financial implications of variations prior to the issue of formal instructions to the contractor. We would seek to keep the client fully aware of the financial position in order that informed decisions can be made on the scope of works to be instructed and if any mitigation measures are to be considered.
We will offer general advice in respect of construction insurance requirements based on our knowledge of the construction industry and various forms of contract. We are happy to deal direct with the client’s insurer or broker to ensure that adequate cover is obtained and advise on the level of contractor’s insurance that might be applicable to each contract.
We are able to offer advice to our clients in respect of VAT payable on construction projects and relating to HMRC schemes that allow VAT to be reclaimed.