Amendments to Public Works Contracts The publication of Circular 01/16 “Construction Procurement – revision of arrangements for the procurement of public works projects” on 18 January 2016 by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform confirms a number of revisions to the Public Works Contracts. These changes apply to the full suite of Public Works Contracts (PW-CF1 to CF5) and their associated tender documents from 4 April 2016 with an optional derogation period up to 8 January 2017. The changes relate to:
— The status of the Bill of Quantities (“BOQ”);
— Direct tendering of specialist works packages;
— New dispute resolution procedures.
For those operating in the building services industry, whether it be in a consultancy or contracting capacity, the more important changes are the status of the BOQ and specialist tendering.
A return to primacy of the Bill of Quantities It is now a mandatory requirement for a contracting authority to produce a fully measured BOQ (in accordance with an approved method of measurement as set out in the Schedule) as the pricing document for employer-designed projects. This will attempt to negate the ability of contracting authorities to transfer the risk of inaccurate take-offs to the contractor through Schedule Part 1 K17.
This practice often led to tenderers being asked to price on the basis of incomplete information which invariably meant claims. This change should be broadly welcomed by industry, as it should allow more accurate, and therefore more competitive, pricing at tender stage. However, there is some trepidation in the building services industry as to whether this could lead, in fact, to increased difficulties in pricing works packages rather than less.
The accepted practice in pricing mechanical and electrical packages before this change was the “drawings and spec” approach typically produced by the mechanical and electrical consultant. The specialist would then price this information and arrive at its tender price.
This change now provides that a fully measured BOQ must be produced at tender stage for the specialist to price and thus represents a significant increase in the workload and potential liability for quantity surveyors and consultants alike. The general consensus in the construction industry appears to be that if you can understand the technology you can measure any item but, in terms of building services technology, this is simply not the case. So how will this effect the role of the consultant?
Part 3.2.2 of Guidance Note 1.5.3 states that: “The Designer must ensure that the documentation that is to be included in the tendered Works Requirements is prepared and coordinated in such a fashion that it is suitable for the production of a fully measured Bill of Quantities by the Cost Consultant.”
The Guidance Note further states that: “The Cost Consultant when preparing the Bill of Quantities must not make assumptions to cover for inadequate or incomplete design information”. If a quantity surveyor is expected to interrogate the design documentation in order to provide a “fully measured” BOQ, he/she is inevitably opening himself/ herself up to increased exposure if there are inaccuracies. This will invariably lead to the quantity surveyor putting far more pressure on the design team to provide information relating to its design than would traditionally have been the case.
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