Before a tender can be produced for any type of contract it is necessary to obtain all relevant information to ensure that an accurate tender is produced. A great deal of this information is provided by the client.
The Client may thus be need ‘advising’ - educating in the phases of the construction project and the consequences and effects (particularly in cost); getting it right first time is not necessarily compatible with speed of design or construction. To further complicate the design many Clients may know little about mechanical and electrical services and will leave this exclusively to the Engineering Design Engineer but still assume that the completed building will fulfil their requirements and expectations in full.
The Clients role in spending time with the designers in the initial stages is vital if the building and services are to meet their requirements, all too often the client leaves too much to others and this results in a building and services which does not fulfill the clients requirements.
Before the design of a building can be agreed it will be necessary to ensure that not only the design meets the client’s requirements but also that the costing is acceptable. The quantity surveyor will have produced an initial cost estimate which will have been agreed by the client to ensure that they are within the client’s budget for the project.
If there is a variance between the costed project and the budget available the architect/designer/engineer will need to reassess the design, or the materials specified or reached some agreement with the client, which will reduce the overall costs.
When considering Building Services an issue may well be the co-ordination of the services within a structure and the programming of operations.
The challenges of the building design and co-ordination of engineering services commences very early in the overall construction process; all too often the main structure is designed by the Architect and Structural Engineer, (particularly in the primary stages) and the aesthetics and structural stability established. This design forms the basis of the initial submission to the Client, usually accompanied by a basic specification and outline cost estimate.
The estimate may include a Prime Cost sum for engineering services but it is likely that the overall cost has been established by approximate estimating techniques without any regard for the type and quality of the engineering services required; basic services only having been included; any specialist services needed being considered as extra and no doubt the subject of a variation.
The use of competitive tendering between construction companies the design stage often for package deal contracts exacerbates the problem.
Unless the building is for a specific and specialist purpose little thought may have been given to service installation and the usual standbys of suspended ceilings, raised floors and circulation area ducts will prevail.
Architects may have limited experience of engineering service design and by the time that the Services Design Engineer has been consulted the ceiling heights and general layout of the building are established. The question then is how to fit in the services rather than how best to integrate the services during initial design, this should be avoided.
Greater co-ordination of engineering services requirements at the initial building design stages will result in a greater efficiency of construction and produce service. Though consideration should be given to the inclusion, allowing for maintenance and commissioning though, where possible concealing from view.
At the construction phase engineering services should be capable of ‘right first time’ installation in a cost efficient manner.
It is essential therefore, to identifying the client’s requirement at the commencement of the construction design. It must be accepted that to many clients the construction phase of the new property is considered as a delay in the use of the building or manufacturing process and they are anxious to proceed with construction in the shortest time possible.
The Architect, Structural and Services Design Engineer must work together to establish the design and co-ordinate the installation of services it is not possible to separated the design function from the installation and commissioning of services without leaving areas of potentially contractual claims.
The phases of a construction project with particular reference to the integration of services can be found in the constructionsite unit Phases of a Building Services Project which can be accessed from the link below.
Pre -tender design information requirements is considered in Preparation and Design stages of the Building Services Job Book, the publication Soft Landings Framework and the constructionsite unit Production of Estimates