Sometimes the use of direct labour in conjunction with supervisory and quality control inputs from one or two professionals is seen as a more budget-friendly approach to the delivery of a project, especially small-scale projects. Other times, the project owner may choose to be engaged directly in purchasing and organizing the supply of construction materials to their site, also in a bid to save cost. Whatever the case may be, whether it’s your personal project or as a group, it is important to know what and what you should expect at completion. You don’t plant grapes and expect to reap blueberries. A project for example, a building development is essentially a product of the use of materials and workmanship. You don’t order for tiles and expect to see epoxy flooring; neither would you see a classic brick wall when you actually paid for blocks.
The usefulness of a material schedule is undoubted. You may never know it until you lose money buying the wrong or a substandard material at the same price as the original or even more. It is that piece of document that shows you the types, sizes, quantities, quality specifications and sometimes current price of all the materials you would need for a project from start to finish. It is not the same as a Bill of Quantities (B.O.Q) or Priced Bill of Quantities which gives brief details of all the items of work in a construction project and cost included respectively, it doesn’t give you the work item or work processes, it only deals with the materials aspect.
The Material Schedule is presented in such a way that the user can easily identify with what materials will be used in the construction of his/her project and it often reveals approximate quantity estimates of all the materials needed with minimal allowance for wastage. Usually the material schedule is a construction document prepared after all the relevant designs/drawings has been completed so that at no point is any material is omitted due to incomplete architectural and engineering details and a thorough market survey has been done to check availability and current prices of the required materials. It is often done in conjunction with the owner’s specifications.
When engaging a contractor, it is important to ask for a material schedule so that you can follow up on the quality of materials used for your work. If the materials used are not those you have agreed on as duly reflected on the material schedule in the absence of a pro-work variation, you can call for a replacement. But if there are no documents to show material specifications, then you can expect anything. Sometimes regret may follow; this is particularly the case when a nominated supplier is engaged without a material schedule to back up your claims on the specs of the materials ordered for. Take for instance, you need a simple timber (wood) to construct your roof carcass, if you don’t specify the product type, size and condition (e.g. Mahogany Hardwood, 50 x 75mm full lengths, new and smooth) but just say supply me ‘wood for roofing’ who is to blame when a truckload of used fragile softwood is brought to your site and workers begin installing them? Although the material schedule comes at a cost, it is worth it.