Standards of contractors

In the last 20 years I have noticed a marked loss of standards on the part of various contractors. It has always been prevalent that a contractor is trying to get as much money as he can for as little work as possible…that is the human condition. But what ever happened to conscience and integrity? The circle of contractors that I can use is getting ever smaller as those that I consider worthy die out or leave the construction industry for pastures new…and probably a lot higher earnings over the course of a year.

It seems to me that the level of expertise has dropped to such a low that we are not expecting even reasonable workmanship any-more. Gone are the days when you could expect a contractor to work on a bit to finish his work, leaving him free to get onto something else, either on the same contract or another. And if you try (God Forbid) to mention that his workmanship may need some attention then you have a full blown row on your hands.

I have just finished a project where we have had to ask the painting contractor to leave because we found that the standard of workmanship was so poor that it was becoming ridiculous. All of the normal tricks of persuasion and cajoling were attempted and carrot and stick applied…but still there was no response apart from belligerence. When it all came to a final standoff the client was adamant that the workmanship was so far below par that they did not want the contractors to try to put it right as they feared…as I did …that the contractors would make a worse mess than they already had.   Of course then we had the normal problems with the JCT Trade Contract which automatically gives contractors seven days to correct any faults.

Trapped between a very aggrieved client and a very aggrieved contractor I managed to broker a deal whereby the contractor should leave the snagging work to someone else to complete who was more tuned to finishing works. This was accepted and with a bit of juggling with the remaining funds, we had a deal. I of course was the one who took all of the blame from both parties for not picking this up sooner. This was a decorating contractor with an office, a staff and a glossy website promising “We always work to meet the needs of our customers. Our attention to detail, professional service and quality work has helped to build a strong reputation”. The actual site operatives were incompetent and surly. They would not work alongside others, and in reality they weren’t professional decorators. Now I know what some of you are thinking…If you can P… you can paint! Yes well… I doubt if these fellas could carry out either function without some form of instruction.

I had deliberately broken down the schedule of works to make the preparation separate, hoping that would demonstrate an emphasis on the preparation, which is always a point of contention. What a joke…these fellas literally just applied paint to whatever surface they were presented with and I think that the same piece of glass paper was shared between them. I lost count of the times that I upbraided them for their poor preparation, but all to no avail. Imagine the horror of the resulting finish on a brand new classy home, with paint over the oak flooring and all over the oak window frames and bare timber where there should have been paint. I kid you not, this was almost unbelievable, yet there we were looking at paintwork where a five year old could have done better. I can honestly say that in over forty years I have never seen such poor workmanship and I hope I never do again.

The overriding problem has been coming at us for the last two decades, slowly but surely the skill base has been moving away from the construction industry across all of the trades and those left are either very good or very bad and it is becoming ever more difficult to find the good ones. Once upon a time I would send out four or five requests to tender and would receive probably four returns. Now I send out ten requests and maybe receive two or three returns, sometimes only one. The additional time that I spend on this is a loss to me as I cannot charge any more fees for this additional work.

Unless we as a society don’t start valuing our vocational trades as fully as the graduate classes and push for better training and outcomes and unless we begin to show due regard to those who posses such talents, we are going to end up in catastrophe. It seems that the desire to make as much money as can be made in as short a time as possible, has precluded the use of training in anything but the barest form and as such we have ended up with a raft of poorly trained sub contractors with a poor work ethic and almost completely devoid of any form of respect either for themselves, or for others.

Project Management

What is this and why should we use it for our building project?
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Feasibility

What should we look for?
Can we afford to do this?
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Budgeting

Finding out what it should all cost.
Keeping those costs under control.
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Programming

How it can really help a project.
How to do it properly.
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Tender Process

Making sure the build team is properly chosen and prepared.
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Procurement

Finding the best value materials.
Making sure they stay that way.
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Site Management

Working with the whole team,
helping everyone to get it right.
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CDM 2015 Regulations

Carrying out the Principle Contractor Role For CDM 2015 Regulations
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