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The era of small quality contractors

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It is now necessary to introduce the European system of certification of technical competence by craftsmen builders.  The situation that prevails today in the construction industry in Cyprus of “you are what you say ” has resulted in poor quality buildings, especially “finishes”, where the defects of a building are covered by layers of plaster.

Bricks laid are covered by a thick plaster coating that looks nice on the outside, while their quality is flimsy.  Apart from electricians, the rest do not need to know their craft (for the former there is relevant legislation, but only for employers – but the rest of the performers are occasional electricians who will not even be able to obtain a basic assistant certificate).

And yet the first to benefit from such an upgrade are those who will obtain this certification and consequently claim a higher wage. On the other hand the architect/ client/ contractor will know that the used craftsmen/plumber are at least of some minimum quality.

It is obvious that we are lagging behind in the quality of construction and the lack of quality foremen does not help for this.  Perhaps the supervision of the architect on a construction site is not as necessary on a frequent basis (and these visits are maximum once a week) as that of the foreman who is (or should be) on the project on an ongoing basis supervising everything.

Unfortunately, due to the lack of good foremen, their salary exceeds that of the engineer, resulting in the contractor “dividing” his time in various projects and in the end a project does not have the necessary supervision and results in poor quality.

On the other hand, the constant presence of the foreman contractor will reduce both the cost of claims due to poor workmanship, as well as the upgrade of the project.

The examples are many with our most recent being the existence of moisture on the walls and after our customer “dug” the floors he found that no waterproofing membrane was installed. In another case out of the six apartments in four there are copper pipes (as the specifications) and the rest were galvanized, which created problems.

Greek craftsmen

These good craftsmen should be able to comment on the owner’s and architect’s decisions towards their contractor and the latter should not consider it wrong. The quality of construction is particularly evident with Greek craftsmen who have remarkable examples of quality (in contrast to Cyprus) as it is in Britain with the Polish craftsmen.

The lack of “stonemasons” in Greece forced contractors there to import craftsmen from Albania (in Britain the quality craftsmen are mainly Poles).  Therefore, a good craftsman deserves every opportunity and an increased payroll both in Cyprus and abroad.

It is therefore the era of small quality contractors, especially now that renovations/upgrades of buildings are needed.

In one case of a German owner who wanted to upgrade his offices in Limassol and approached us for the management of the project, his specifications were so high that we were afraid to undertake it, not so much for our own shortcomings, but for the shortcomings of the contractors (for which we would bear responsibility).

Although the remuneration was as high as the rest of our other projects combined, we nevertheless told him that we could not do the job.  In the end he assigned the project to a German engineer and who brought craftsmen from Germany.

So, quality is rewarded as craftsmen, but contractors and quality consultants are scarce, but do we have this quality at all the above levels?  The Marina’s latest project, almost all the consultants are foreigners (mostly Americans) with Cypriots representing them (mainly for legislative purposes) in Cyprus.

So how can we find craftsmen and upgraded quality when foreign investors in Cyprus import quality people on their own?

Let’s get to the lack of materials for older buildings.

Our client in an apartment building who could not find ceramics tiles for replacement for 3 sq.m. and after applying to the UK to a small industry for construction (without success for 20 sq.m. of development at an agreed price of 100 euros/sq.m.), employed a local tiler, an artist of his profession.  After removing the ceramics from the rear wall of the refrigerator, he placed them on the floor – a rare technique.

The relevant standards for craftsmen had been prepared as well as a proposal for a certification school 3-5 years ago.  But this issue has not progressed leaving the construction industry behind again in its quality.

 

By Antonis Loizou F.R.I.C.S. – Antonis Loizou & Associates EPE – Real Estate Appraisers & Development Project Managers

www.aloizou.com.cy

[email protected]