Builders hire external quantity surveyors only as a last resort. Usually after months of trying to convince themselves that the project bottom line will improve, they realize that they are in for a contractual fight with the client and any straw needs to be grasped.
Month after month of cost reports with ever diminishing margin, force them to consider the battle ahead. That means finding every conceivable error, ambiguity, inference in the contract documents or any slip by the client’s representative. Project managers think they are experts in construction law, directors look for blame, and the site based project team convince themselves they have a cas against the client. Delusion has set in.
Wonderful expressions are uttered, “global claims”, “unfair enrichment”, deceptive and misleading conduct” All are bandied about with as much abandon in the site office as in the boardroom. Sight is completely lost of the simplicity of contractual claims:
- What did the client do or not do?
- Did this cause us costs?
- Is it recoverable under the contract?
- What are those costs?
The client’s quantity surveyor has either dismissed or taken a blow torch to variation claims and because builders are not in the quantity surveying club, they are forced to seek the services of an external professional – the QS.
by Gerry Keating
So we go through the very expensive exercise of our people talking to their people and if we are lucky end up with a compromise on the steps of the court.
The alternative is to start the process from the day the first variation is carved up by the client’s QS, not wait until the dire cost report forces the issue. Get in early, don’t get time barred, and do not put up with any nonsense from a QS who probably created the errors or ambiguities in the first place.