Saturday, 10 December 2016

How to Select a Good Contractor for your Project - Engr. Osaz' Enobakhare

In any construction project, the client or project owner is the major stakeholder; hence any action or inaction by a client in relation to his or her project can either make or mar the project delivery. It is therefore very important that project owners become increasingly professional in the discharge of their responsibilities on their building/construction projects. 

Over the years it has been observed that most of the reasons for the poor delivery of construction projects are essentially a consequence of the poor selection of the main or sub-contractor(s) handling the project often by the client or his or her agent or consultant.

Selection of a contractor based on false recommendation, financial posture, ethnicity, unverified credentials, age, tribe, race, personal affiliations, family linkages, nationality, gender, religious/community affiliations or as the case may be rather than competence is increasingly risky.

There have been piles of reported cases and cries in various quarters of gross misconduct, misuse or diversion of project funds and sharp practices by several contractors. Some others have employed the services of contractors who have constructed buildings that have collapsed or are waiting to collapse. Others claim that their contractors never stop asking for more and more money; an incredible variation from the original contract sum. 

There are also cases of unsuspecting clients especially based abroad falling prey of fake, unreliable and unqualified contractors. That a person has been building since 1900 does not qualify him/her as a competent building contractor. 

There is a need to leave the comfort of your homes or offices to do a fair appraisal of the competence and reliability of a contractor before employing his or her services on your project. For project owners based abroad you may have to make some extra phone calls. This process for this purpose of this piece is known as due diligence. 

The following few steps will guide you: Before making your final choice on a contractor for your project, you should; 

- Look up their profile e.g. via the internet - Ask relevant questions such as; the person’s office address or any construction site he or she is currently working in order to pay a visit and make some personal observations of his/her attitude and work style.

 - Inquire about the key person’s academic qualification and details of past projects. Visit one or two of their past projects to verify. 

- Ask for the firm’s certificate of incorporation, professional licenses, financial capacities etc and verify their authenticity because the law does not recognize any business agreement you enter with an unregistered firm. 

- If you are satisfied with their profile, ask specific questions like: Can you work in this kind of environment? Have you done this kind of project before? What kind of foundation is most suitable for this kind of soil on site? How would you construct this kind of foundation? What are the cost implications of alternative methods? How do you manage variations? Etc. If you get a ‘Yes’ as an answer to all your questions, then it is enough reason to be suspicious. Most tried and trusted contractors are not akin to hyping themselves or false bearing. At least a truthful ‘No’ as an answer to some questions, with reasonable explanation is ok. Always ask the ‘how’ question.

- If you don’t like to entertain any aorta of variation in the original contract sum agreed with your contractor, then you must insist on a fixed-type contract and document your contract agreements; signed and sealed. That way even if a justifiable reason for variation occur order than such as was provoked by uncontrollable events like force majeure, very sharp inflation and malicious damage from external sources, the contractor is obliged to complete the project within the budget.