Address discrepancies of Contract Documents in a timely manner

It is unquestionably beneficial for a project if the discrepancies in the contract documents are detected before the contract award (or most preferably during the tender period), and incorporate rectifications or corrective procedures into the contract. Even if it is found before the construction begins, timely notification to the contractor of such discrepancies will save the project of undue change orders leading to costs and delays. This will likely allow the owner to determine the best course of action to mitigate potential impacts to the contractor.

Almost every Conditions of Contract stipulates procedures to give notices. These contract notice requirements should also address stipulated time periods within which the notices are to be sent, and it specially is important for the owner to give response to these issues in time, in order to avoid extra expenses. It is the owner’s representatives’ responsibility to ensure that the owner responds in time at all times. Simple requests for information can become more expensive change orders and disrupt the project if left unaddressed. Larger issues should be prioritized and handled as efficiently and expeditiously as possible to mitigate disruption to the project. An experienced owner’s representative can prove valuable in effectively prioritizing and handling these issues. However, at no time should a contractor’s notice of discrepancy or request for information be left unanswered beyond the time limit outlined specified in the contract.

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Construction Management Plan (CMP) and its use

The CMP is used by the authorities or the municipalities mainly for conveying due notifications to affected neighbourhoods of the vicinity of a construction project and its impact and timing of the traffic diversions, blockages, noise, worker movements .. etc., which is generated by the construction activities of the project.

As the size of projects become larger, the impacts of its activities become larger and it can affect various organizations in the vicinity. Organizations such as; hospitals, schools, businesses, residents (specially elderly citizens), government agencies … etc., can be very much affected by; traffic diversions, blockages, noises, dust and various other impacts and a CMP will allow the local governess to notify the affected parties in due time to expect and take precautions against such impacts.

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Precedence of Contract Documents

Most of the Conditions of Contract stipulate the precedence of contract documents in order to avoid disputes or variations. If no clauses showing the priority of documents are present in the Conditions of Contract, it is vital that the owners should establish a precedence of documents in the contract. This will help ensure that there is a clear delineation of the contractor’s scope of work, which will potentially reduce severe conflicts and costly change orders for changes to the scope of work.

The precedence of documents written clearly in the Conditions of Contract establishes a clear path for determining the contractual scope of work in the event a conflict between documents is discovered. This allows the owner the opportunity to decide whether the contractual scope of work is acceptable, or whether it wants to issue a formal change order to modify the work scope. Lack of an order of precedence clause in the contract will almost always result in a change order when discrepancies arise.

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What is the basis of making a Construction Management Plan (CMP)

For making any plan, it is imperative that the final goal must be kept in mind for getting the most of the plan. Similarly, the final construction goal shall be kept in mind while making a CMP for best outcome. In addition to visualizing the intended structure, it is also necessary to visualize its environment, neighbourhood and other impacts for getting the best results of a CMP.

A valuable source which can be used to prepare a CMP is the construction schedule (program of works). A good amount of information regarding the construction processes involved can be obtained from a construction schedule and it would be advisable to prepare the CMP in homogeneity with it and care should be taken to avoid any contradictions between the two.

A typical CMP shall necessarily include the processes to maintain; environment protection, least disturbance to neighbourhood, minimum pollution to air and water, least disturbance to traffic & pedestrians.

There are a number of software available for generating a CMP while there are software which provide following processes and documents which are used as data for creation of a CMP.

  • Construction planning & schedules,
  • Material, equipment, manpower histograms,
  • Cashflow charts,
  • Resource allocation and usage,
  • CAD (computer aided design) for preparing 2D or 3D project drawings,
  • Project estimation,
  • Project monitoring,
  • Construction accounting

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Tender and Contract Document Discrepancies – How to avoid?

Compiling and preparing tender documents is a mammoth task, specially for large projects and many people who have expertise in different fields can be involved in preparing and writing different sections of the documents. When this happens it could be very difficult to maintain the consistency of the documents. It is a good idea to have one person from the owner’s team or owner’s representatives, as the point of contact for discrepancies in contract documents. While such a person should have good experience and knowledge over the whole project, he should also be matured and possess all-round knowledge in all sectors in construction. Once he is in place, all discrepancies, questions, RFI, queries, requests, etc., should be conveyed to all parties participated in preparation of tender documents. A single point of contact for noting discrepancies and requesting information concerning the tender documents will help prevent issues of inconsistency in tender and contract documents.

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Construction Management Plan – What is it?

There are different meanings for the Construction Management Plan (CMP) depending on the organization which implements it. However, in general, the objective of a CMP is to plan and organize the construction works in order to minimise the impacts of construction activities on: neighbours, nearby residents, users of public footpaths and roads, and the environment.

As said above, the objective of the CMP changes from organization to organization. The project governing authority or the municipality of the area would require the CMP to detail the impact of the project on the environment by way of; noise, air & water pollution, dust & waste, human interference; adherence to regulations and laws, reinstatement plans of damages to environment and public or private facilities, and public safety.

In the case of an owner (Employer) he may require the CMP to plan outline of the whole project from the perspectives of business feasibility, business goal, contractor’s progress & activities evaluation, and taking over the project on completion.

In the case of a contractor, it will be a parallel document with the project schedule detailing construction tasks, cost of tasks, cash flow, methodology of tasks, management of the logistics, traffic and road management, environment protection, noise reduction, minimizing interference to neighbours and how the work is generally carryout until completion and hand over.

CMP is a living document which is to be maintained by regular updating throughout the duration of a project and beyond until the facility is leased out.

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Project Owners to be blamed for Variations

A distasteful matter for every owner of a construction project is variations or change orders which cause escalation of the project costs. Nevertheless, the owners themselves are to be blamed of it and they should take the responsibility as most of the variations rise due to incomplete, inadequate, inconsistent contract or tender documents prepared by owner’s or their representatives.

It is therefore essential for the owners and their representatives to perform thorough reviews of both tender and contract documents, prior to entering into contract agreements with contractors. In case if errors are found in tender documents, still it can be rectified during pre-bid clarification meetings or during tender evaluation times. Such actions can be effective at reducing inconsistencies in the bid documents, and subsequently the contract documents, as there are numerous contractors checking the documents and asking for clarifications on potential discrepancies. A project’s success can depend on understanding that change is going to happen before it happens, and having effective plans in place for minimizing, mitigating, and handling changes thus maintaining de-escalation of project costs.

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Teaching and Mentoring responsibilities of a Construction Foreman

The main role of a construction foreman being supervision of workers in a construction site, he may require at times to perform hands-on work side-by-side with workers to guide less experienced workers for training them to deliver work to the required quality and efficiency levels.  For this reason, a foreman should be well experienced in his area of work and quite often, well matured and senior workers are appointed as foremen in construction organizations.

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Administrative Duties of a Construction Foreman

The construction foremen are responsible for attending and filling up many paperwork in construction sites. Among such works are; Worker attendance records, Work activity records, Non-compliance records, Material delivery records, Equipment allocation records, maintaining inventories, subcontractor allocation, attendance records, and similar tasks.

Apart from updating and maintaining such records, he may also be required to raise material submission forms, work inspection requests, test requests and similar submissions.

A foreman may also need to place supply and material orders, and conduct worker evaluations and participate in the hiring process.

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Variations in Construction Projects – Lack of consistent contract documents

Variations in construction projects occur due to inadequate, incomplete, inconsistent contract documents, drawings, and project specifications or due to errors or missed out parts in them. Project documents with such occurrences often give rise to claims or disputes resulting in change orders from the contractor. Carefully and comprehensively prepared, and thoroughly reviewed contract documents would minimize the potential of such incidents, and the designers, architects, project managers should take appropriate measures to ensure that the contractors are issued error-free, adequate, consistent and complete sets of contract documents prior to agreement signing.

Another area for initiation of variations is errors and uncomplete tender documents. It is the responsibility of contract managers, quantity surveyors, or construction managers to review tender documents for detecting such incidents and rectify it during tender evaluation and negotiation period.

A frequent source of variations is the inconsistency of contract documents. For large projects, the contract documents include large volumes with thousands of pages and it may be extremely difficult to maintain consistency in the documents considering that different volumes are prepared by different departments of the owner or the architects or consultants. One way to avoid variations due to such causes is to establish the precedence of documents in the Conditions of Contract.

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Variations in construction projects and its origin

Variations (or Change Orders) in construction projects are common and there is not likely that a project completes without any variation. However, variations are a nightmare for the owners, generally, although there are negative variations which lower the total cost of a project.

Variations are caused due to few reasons which are;

Lack of consistent contract documents

Change of regulations,

Additional requirements by the owner

Cancellation of items

Failure to address discrepancies in a timely manner

Late changes

Variations are governed by the relevant clauses in Conditions of Contract.

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Organizational Duties of a Construction Foreman

Since a construction foreman is the main link between the workers and the site management in a construction site, his role is vital for the progress of a project, and in a macro view, to the construction organization as a whole. As workers are the life line for construction organizations, a construction foreman should understand the worker’s mentality, work application, efficiency, grievances, and many other features, whom he represents. In addition to duties onsite, Construction foremen require to work with subcontractors, vendors and other outside entities and agencies to make sure every aspect of the project is covered and stays on schedule for completion. 

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Fast Project Delivery by use of fast-paced Contract methods

In the fast paced world today, time has become a crucial factor for everything what we do and it is more significant in the industry and in business. Construction industry is no exception and the time taken in the conceptual design, architectural and structural designs, project development, and the construction phases has become increasingly compressed as cost and schedule concerns become more important. For fast track construction projects it has become common practice to make fast project delivery contractual arrangements such as; Design-Build and cost-plus contracts. Such contracts come with added advantage of mitigating the potential for disputes due to errors or missed out content in contract documents and delays of consultants. While the up-front planning and design stages are compressed to facilitate a faster project completion, greater effort and cooperation is paramount to ensuring these initial stages are performed completely and accurately to minimize any impacts to the project. Fast delivery of projects has become the dream of the Construction industry for optimum business gains.

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Miscellaneous Duties of a Construction Foreman

Although supervision of workers is the principle responsibility of a construction foreman, he may be required to perform other tasks which are not direct construction activities. Among such tasks are; disciplining, training, welfare, health matters, leave allocation of the workers; raising equipment and material requests, assistance to employees of the authorities/ civil defence/ municipality/ and similar personnel, assistance to surveyors, site waste management, attending to water and power supplies .. etc., throughout the project.

A foreman is also required to monitor employee efficiencies, evaluate their progress, and provide workers with guidance and assistance to help increase efficiency. 

Apart from above, a foreman is the contact for the workers under him for their requirements, grievances or complaints to be communicated to relevant departments in a construction organization.

When workers are organized under trade unions, a construction foreman needs to know and understand the contract terms so he can ensure that matters like assigning overtime or disciplinary action meet with the requirements of the union.

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Be aware of other parties’ standpoints for better project planning

The wish of every construction project owner is to get the project completed ahead or in time and within the allocated budget. Cost of a project escalates due mainly to variations and other claims by a contractor. As such, it is of prime importance for an owner to be aware of techniques for planning and managing project changes and avoiding claims.

Construction is a complex process with the participation of many parties, and it is beneficial for each of the parties to have a more complete understanding of the other parties’ perspectives for better planning and avoiding claims.

A successful completion of a project would be the dream of any construction project owner.

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Responsibilities of a Construction Foreman Offsite

No doubt that a construction foreman’s working hours are mostly spent onsite among the workers. As his experience grows, the time spent on site could be reduced with added duties in the site offices while more junior foremen are allocated for most of the work onsite.

The site office duties of a construction foreman may include; assisting engineers in submitting inspection requests, material submittals, day-to-day scheduling of workers, creating work schedules, attending to QA&QC issues, attending to non-compliance reports, issues on workers, progress issues, proposing corrective actions on various non-compliance, and many similar tasks. Apart from direct construction related tasks, a foreman may require to follow logistic tasks such as; material deliveries, construction equipment allocation, subcontractor supervision, follow up of supplies, raising supply requests, material inspections, and similar.

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Establishing the Critical Path

After planning construction activities in a construction project, the second step in successfully managing a project is developing the schedule of works which is popularly known as the construction program. Proper scheduling of the work tasks is the most critical aspect of the construction management process. The project schedule not only divides the work by activities, but it allows other parties to know what activities need to be performed and when. All construction parties need to be involved in planning the schedule and “buy into” the project sequence before construction begins. A schedule can be as simple as a bar chart or as sophisticated as a computer model, but it must be developed and utilized. In a bar chart, each bar represents an activity and the length of the bar represents the activity duration. The bars can be stacked and placed so that as one activity is completed, the next activity in the sequence begins. The figure shows a sample bar chart schedule where it clearly shows the sequence of construction activities.

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Responsibilities of a Construction Foreman on site

Responsibilities of a construction foreman is generally similar in any construction site though there can be some differences depending on the type of the project. Generally, Construction foremen are responsible for supervising the workers who are employed in various activities in construction sites and in specific cases they may be instructed to do other relevant jobs such as; be in-charge of activities of small subcontractors, attending the tasks of inspections or tests, or be of assistance to employees representing authorities who visit the site for certain tasks … etc.

A construction foreman should have some knowledge of the quality standards of the activities performed by the workers who are under his control and should have the ability to detect non-compliances in the completed work.

A major requirement of a construction foreman is the ability to supervise workers ensuring that they begin work on time and finish within designated working hours to avoid overtime whenever possible and direct the workers for overtime allocations on the instructions of the site engineers.,

As a foreman gains years of experience in the job, he will acquire greater knowledge of the activities and building regulations of construction and will be in a position with more responsibilities at site.

Construction foremen certainly can pursue education in areas of project management and building services in lieu of real-world experience, and some do in order to advance their careers or to make themselves more marketable.

Pursuing advanced education in either field adds formalized knowledge to the hands-on experience a foreman is already getting working in the construction industry.

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