How To Run A Safe Construction Site

No matter how large or small your refurbishment project is Safety should be your Number 1 Priority

You may think making a profit is the priority but we will say it again Safety should be your Number 1 Priority

CDM Regulations 2015

Under the CDM Regulations 2015  CDM Regs anybody engaged in commercial activity (work carried out on any property that is not their main residence) is classed as a commercial client. As a result, they have a legal obligation to ensure the safety of anyone working for them. This includes any subcontractors you may employ. In addition these subcontractors have a duty to the people they employ.

Everyone has the right to go to work and to go home safely. However construction work by its very nature is inherently dangerous. Above all safety must be given importance when planning a project

The Construction industry is the 3rd most dangerous in the UK. For instance, in the period 2018-2019 there were 30 deaths

In the period 2018-2019 there were 30 deaths. Half of these were falls from height. When the HSE talk about falls from height they mean any height including floor level. In addition there were thousands of life changing injuries

Which projects are more dangerous?

Small refurbishment projects can be more dangerous then large construction sites

Safety on large construction sites is rigorously enforced and a zero tolerance approach to unsafe working is adopted. Therefore, although there are more man hours worked there are less accidents

However on smaller jobs run by developers who are not full time construction professionals the rules are often far more relaxed

Many part time developers just assume that the men will sort out their own safety arrangements. In other words they don’t feel they have to consider safety on site. Therefore a lot of them allow unsafe working without realising it

Before beginning a project you should get advice from a qualified Health and Safety professional and ask them to write you a Site Safety Plan. This is one of the site set up essentials you should have

These are some essentials you should have in place for your project

  • Every project must have a construction phase plan
  • Everyone must wear PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)
  • Task specific PPE to be worn for dangerous activities
  • Every activity must have a Task Briefing and Risk Assessment
  • The above can be combined in a set of RAMS ( Risk Assessed Method Statements)
  • No 230 Volt electricity to be used on site
  • Only 110 Volt electricity via a step down transformer to be used on site
  • All power tools preferably to be battery powered
  • Extension leads to be tied safely out of the way and not trailed across floor to avoid trip hazards
  • Scaffolding only to be erected by qualified persons
  • Scaffolding to be inspected and tagged once a week
  • Step ladders to be inspected for damage before being allowed on site
  • No alcohol on site
  • Safety footwear to be worn at all times
  • Site Manager to hold CITB SMSTS card
  • All operatives to hold CITB CSCS card or relevant trade skill card
  • Only insulated tools to be used for electrical work
  • All substances containing SHH* must have a COSHH* assessment
  • First Aider to be on site at all times
  • All excavations to have shorings and barriers and warning notices
  • Safety notices and site rules to be displayed on site
  • All COSHH* materials to be stored offsite or onsite in locked metal box

Each project is different

The above is not a complete list. Each project will have its own particular risks. Therefore there is no one size fits all site safety plan. For instance, one site may involve a lot of work at height , while another project is all based at ground level

 

If you need specific safety advice or a Site Safety Plan prepared please contact us as we have people who are qualified in these matters. Knowing how to run a safe construction site should always take priority over profit

Notes

* Substances Hazardous to Health

** Control of Substances Hazardous to Health

If you are not sure what COSHH is there is a link below

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2002/2677/contents/made

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How do you find builders

If you are just getting started in property development you are probably asking yourself “ how do I find builders?

It can seem like a minefield if you don’t know any. But there are several places you can start looking

Professional organisations

The federation of Master builders is a good place to start looking. They have a link on their website here that allows you to search for any builders in your area who are members of the FMB. In addition any builder applying for membership will have had their previous projects inspected to make sure they can produce work to a high standard

The Chartered Institute of Building offer the same kind of service. On their website here  you can contact them and check for companies and individuals who are Chartered members. There is a rigorous selection procedure to become a member so you can be sure you are working with high calibre companies and individuals

However any company who is a member of the FMB or CIOB will probably be in demand and will charge premium prices

Review sites

There are numerous review sites on the internet. While there are undoubtably many quality companies and tradesmen on there, you should exercise caution. It has been known in the past for people to put their own fake reviews on there to get business

Personal reccomendation

Of course this is the ideal way to find builders. But if you don’t have friends or family who can recommend any then you are back to square one. It is often said that the way to find good tradesmen is to ask other builders who they know. This is not always guaranteed. Sometimes they will just reccomend their friends or family, whether they are any good or not

Reccomendations from professionals

Architects, Quantity Surveyors and Construction Consultants are good people to ask. They will usually have extensive experience of working with a different range of contractors. Therefore they will be able to recommend who to use and more importantly who to avoid

Looking for them yourself

If all the above fail then it is time to go out and look for them yourself. Builders and tradesmen are everywhere. If you see a building project going on near you, take a note of the phone numbers on the side of the vans. If you see one standing outside the job, go up and introduce yourself. Tell them you have a project starting soon and would they be available? That way when you phone them in the future they will remember talking to you.

Builders merchants are a good place to look. There is usually a notice board inside where tradesmen pin their business cards. Ask the people working there if they can recommend anyone. Take a trip past your local café and see if there are any vans parked outside. If you see any builders sitting inside then go in there and introduce yourself and ask for a business card. If your intended project is outside of your home area, take a drive up there and use the same methods

Whatever method you choose you will sometimes just have to go on gut instinct. We wish you luck!

 

Sourcing builders and tradesmen for our clients is one of the many services  we offer

If you need help with finding builders please contact us

The dangers of asbestos

 

Anything that contains asbestos is called an ACM. Asbestos containing materials were widely used in housebuilding in the UK and were finally banned in 1999

Why was it used as a building material?

It first became used at the end of the 1800’s during the Industrial Revolution. And at first seemed to be a wonder material

It had many qualities it was cheap, widely available, strong and had insulating qualities. It was fire and heat resistant and absorbed sound

But concerns were growing as early as the 1920’s although it took nearly 80 years for it to be finally banned

If you are buying a property that was built before 1999 there is a good chance it will contain ACM’s

This could present a problem if you intend to do renovation work to it

Where might you find asbestos?

ACM’s could be anywhere including the walls,under floorboards, in the loft, behind the fire place, downpipes and gutters, Artex ceilings. Also old sheds in the garden with corrugated roofs could well have Asbestos in them

If you intend to do structural work such as knocking out fireplaces, knocking through walls to add an extension or moving doorways this is classed as demolition

The HSE website quite clearly states that in this case you must get a Refurbishment/Demolition survey. This is when the surveyor will check for the presence of ACM’s. If any are detected they must be removed by a licensed contractor. There are severe penalties if this is done by an unlicensed contractor

Having the right survey is one of the site set up essentials

The last thing you want to see on your refurbishment project is a team of builders in there ripping the house apart and big clouds of dust blowing down the street without having the correct survey in place

What do you do if you find asbestos?

Asbestos must be removed by a licenced contractor. There are numerous companies who specialise in the removal of asbestos containing materials. Under no circumstances must asbestos be put in a skip with other rubbish or taken to a public tip. Professional removal can be expensive and because of this people may be tempted to dispose of it in the same way as other rubbish. To incentivise people not to do this HMRC allows people to claim up to 150% of the cost of this against their tax bill

We are not experts on this and are not giving professional advice just guidance.For more information look on the Govenment website Here

We offer a wide range of services. If you would like help with any element of a property refurbishment please contact us

One of the most important decisions for anyone involved in property refurbishment or development is selecting the right contract for your project

Why do you need a contract?

The first thing people have to do before selecting a contract is understand why they even need one

Property developing and refurbishment are part of the construction industry. The construction industry is notorious for disputes and projects going wrong with serious amounts of money being lost. These problems are not limited to large projects , but happen on a regular basis on even the smallest projects

Having a contract is the best way to protect your investment in the event that things go wrong

What should be in a contract?

Contracts can be as simple or as detailed as the project requires. At a minimum they should contain the following key details

  • Start/end dates of project
  • Scope of work to be carried out
  • Price to be paid for work carried out
  • Programme of project duration
  • Name of client
  • Name of contractor
  • Payment schedule
  • Method of agreeing variations to original scope
  • How variations will be valued

Who benefits from a contract?

Everyone benefits from a contract being in place on a project. The contract is designed to protect the builder as much as the client. It holds both parties accountable in the event of a dispute

How many contracts should there be on a project?

That depends on who is involved and how complex the project is. A client may have separate contracts with an Architect, a Project Manager, a builder and specialist subcontractors. The builder may have their own contracts with individual subcontractors

Where can you get contracts?

The most commonly known ones are JCT contracts. These are issued by the Joint Contracts Tribunal, however these are not the only ones

RIBA contracts are also widely used . These are issued by the Royal Institute of British Architects

Another widely used one is the FMB contract. These are issued by the Federation of Master Builders

Which are the best?

Its not simply a matter of one being better then the other, the important question is which one is most suitable? Each one of them has their own benefits for a particular project

JCT contract

How do you know which is the right contract to choose?

That is going to depend on the value, purpose and scope of the project. A refurbishment project on your own house is different to a refurbishment project as a commercial enterprise. A commercial to residential project is completely different to building 20 new houses. It also depends on the level of experience and understanding you have of contracts or if you are going to use a professional such as a Construction Consultant or Architect to manage the contract for you

Why do you need someone to run the contract?

Both the JCT and RIBA contracts are written with the assumption that there will be a Contract Administrator ( CA) in charge of the contract. There are exceptions to this such as homeowner contracts which work on the basis of the homeowner dealing directly with the builder. Sometimes people try and fill the role of CA themselves. This is only advisable if you have sufficient experience and understanding of construction contracts

Why shouldn’t you fill the role of Contract Administrator yourself?

Traditionally the CA is a 3rd party employed by the client. Although they are paid by the client , they are supposed to administer the contract in a fair and impartial way. If there is a contractual dispute between the client and builder the CA is supposed to intervene and decide who is in the right. They are supposed to protect the builders interests as much as the clients.

In the event that matters reach court, it may prove difficult to prove that the client had a disagreement with the builder and in their role as the CA treated the builder fairly

Also some versions of contracts can be quite complex. If you don’t fully understand it yourself you may end up losing a lot of money as you have not stuck to the contract, without realising it

Can I just sign the contract the builder gives me?

Some people do this but its not always advisable. If you are going to do this you may need to pay a solicitor to review it

What the JCT, RIBA and FMB contracts all have in common is something called “ standard forms”. The construction industry is notoriously difficult from a contractual point of view. Standard forms are terminology and clauses that all construction lawyers and the courts are familiar with. They fully understand what these terms and clauses mean and imply. Therefore it is easier to see who is in breach of contract

If you use one of the standard forms of contract can you alter it?

Sometimes the client or builder will ask for a bespoke clause to be inserted into a standard form contract. The problem is this could invalidate the whole contract. Again this would have to be looked at by a solicitor

Are there any other advantages of using standard form contracts?

A key feature that all standard form contracts have is a mechanism for dispute resolution. It is very unlikely that a bespoke contract will have this. Sometimes issues arise on a project that brings both parties into dispute. If this cant be resolved it could bring the whole project to a halt.

A mechanism for dispute resolution can deal with this problem separately while work continues on the rest of the project. A client with little experience in contractual matters can feel at a distinct disadvantage when dealing with a builder with extensive contractual experience. If the dispute goes to an official resolution service the client will have the support of an external person with extensive contract experience

I have heard about NEC contracts can I use them?

NEC stands for New Engineering contract. They are the most popular form of contract used on major infrastructure contracts in the same way that JCT contracts are the most popular in property refurbishment and developing projects. However there are some major differences between JCT and NEC contracts. NEC contracts are not suitable for property development or refurbishment projects. They are designed for use by experienced professionals

Summary

Having the right contract is a vital part of undertaking a successful project. There are many construction professionals such as Consultants, Architects and Quantity Surveyors who can offer advice on selecting the right contract for your project. In addition the JCT offer training courses.

If the worst happens on your project and you have the wrong or no contract to protect you then you could lose thousands or everything. Therefore spending a few hundred pounds on some contract advice is a good investment.

 

If you need help with choosing a contract for your project please contact us as we have extensive experience in Contract Administration

This is one of the many services we offer. Please get in touch to see how we can help you