As the economic climate continues to turn a corner and the property needs of small and large businesses focus on facilitating growth and efficiencies, firms are looking to improve their existing property assets and explore the possibility of new premises. Building surveyor Tom Burton explains how project monitoring could save costs.
The lack of new development, and increasingly frequent change of use from office to residential premises, presents a continued lack of availability of high quality suitable stock, necessitating occupier-specific refurbishments and alterations.
Occupiers undertaking works are faced with a great number of challenges, not least of which is ensuring that the works marry with often complex business needs and that best value is obtained. Although these are relatively obvious key considerations, other considerations and selecting a ‘preferred’ scheme of works from an abundance of salesmen-led glossy visuals often blur the fundamentals. Once a contract has been signed, it is all too often a case of ‘too little, too late’.
In order to achieve best value and ensure that the true requirements of the client are met, selection of the right procurement route is crucial. Design & build approaches to works are very popular with occupiers, possibly attributable to impressive visuals in combination with little, if any, up-front costs. Such approaches, relying on outline drawings and visuals accompanied with a headline cost, place the instructing client in a real position of risk. The lack of detailed information in relation to finishes, fittings and mechanical and electrical works inherently leads to changes to the proposals, post award of the contract, and incurring expensive additional costs, owing to the inherent lack of transparency with design and build approaches.
Best value and wider project satisfaction has historically been achieved through more traditional methods of procurement but often incur up-front costs and slow the general works process. In order to bridge the gap between pure design & build and traditional procurement, the appointment of a client’s representative can be considered to limit the client’s risk and deliver project satisfaction. A service often provided by a building surveyor, the client’s representative assists from inception through completion, whilst overseeing and monitoring the works on site, thus alleviating the often stressful and time-intensive input otherwise placed on the instructing client.
For some, the additional fees accrued in the surveyor’s appointment can be a deterrent, but are so often offset many times over by the cost savings achieved. Often not apparent to the client are design & build contractor’s numerous hidden costs, typically inclusive of significant fees for the design and management of the scheme.
Over and above cost, the building surveyor’s unique skill set affords the client added value in having both a full and impartial understanding the client’s requirements, detailed knowledge of products, finishes and works solutions, coupled with contract management ability, further assisting the realisation and satisfactory delivery of the wider project.
While the property industry is undoubtedly awakening and the financial backdrop improving, occupier’s works remain a significant cost consideration. With the implications of refurbishment and alteration failure far reaching, can any firms really afford the risk that is so easily mitigated by the assistance and guidance of an experienced and impartial representative?