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Don’t underestimate building supervision

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To correct the wrongs in our own “house”, that of the construction industry and the various consultants involved, some of us are not happy, based on our experiences, regarding the quality of the supervision of some consultants in the construction sector.

Some consultants want to collect the largest percentage of their design fee and do the minimum during supervision.

This is understandable because everyone wants to be paid the largest percentage for a job upfront.

Then, during supervision, we get the impression this takes second place with no satisfactory service provided.

Unfortunately, this approach has troubled us for years.

Design is one thing, and supervision, preparation of on-site instructions and supervision for the proper execution of the project is another.

To understand the issue, I submit the following examples, drawn from 42 years of experience, and they must be avoided.

  • Design of water supply pipes on a public road in Pissouri without the designer consulting the public authorities about their size. As a result, the size of the pipes was wrong, and our project was forced to dig the road again to install the correct pipe – Cost €60,000 extra.
  • Analysis of the offer for a sewage treatment station was completely wrong, and after our research, we found the consultant’s recommendation was €28,000 more expensive than the second-best one. After discovering the issue, the consultant told us he would re-examine this issue during the award of the contract.
  • The electrical subcontractor misconnected the installation, and the buyers discovered it afterwards.
  • The consultant submitted the wrong sewer pipe slope, and thus, the system did not work. The consultant told us it could not be “inside” the pipe, but he did not check before accepting the installation.
  • Turbines in a lake with specifications by foreign designers and execution by local consultants recommended the wrong turbines with €21,000 additional cost.
  • More recently was the case of land shifting in the area of Limnes in Pissouri, where the State undertook the partial repair at a cost of several million (a geological study in advance by the architect would have avoided the problem).
  • We commissioned a well-known architectural firm several years ago to design five apartment buildings. But they sent one of his technicians for supervision without the architect showing up. To our protest, he replied that the assignment was made to his office and not to him personally, and although he admitted to us that he almost “did not know where the project was”, we were wrong and were being unfair.

At the same time, however, we take our hats off to mechanical and electrical consultant offices for their professionalism.

  • An electromechanical consultant refused to supervise a contractor’s work because the quality was unacceptable.
  • After awarding the tenders and checking the data of the equipment delivered to the construction site contrary to their manufacturer’s specifications, they were rejected because their specifications differed from those checked.
  • A consultant director dismissed an employee on the spot who did not report regularly to supervision and undertook from the outset and at his own expense the detailed new inspection and supervision.

The issue is not just about the competence of consultants but about the damage caused to public confidence that negatively affects good advisors.

There are buildings with serious structural problems that are certainly related to serious negligence, both on the part of the contractor (mainly) for poor execution and on the part of the supervisor and the designer whose sign is displayed prominently on-site, for poor supervision.

By false statements, contractors use the names of engineers, stating that they are their employees (when they are not) and the existence of their machines (owned by others) to obtain their work permits from the contractor’s registration council.

I’m sounding the alarm for the public to choose their advisers carefully, and we cannot adopt the view that one adviser told us, “What does this client expect for such a low fee.”

Of course, there is the insistence of the employers for discounts on the fees of engineers, at levels that often cause damage to the engineer (with the result that the latter does not show the corresponding interest).

But this is one thing, and proper execution of work is another because the designer’s responsibility remains the same, regardless of the level of remuneration.

We recommend that you should be demanding, but on the other hand, you should pay your consultants correctly and pay them on time.

So, there are consultants and consultants, and attention to the right choice is a major prerequisite for excellent work, especially in matters of electromechanical, where everything is buried in concrete, and the verification of the error afterwards costs both contractors and development entrepreneurs increased costs and certainly great damage to unsuspecting buyers.

 

Antonis Loizou F.R.I.C.S. – Antonis Loizou & Associates EPE – Property Appraisers, Property Sellers & Development Project Managers