Wall ties and bricklaying to blame for Edinburgh schools failures, finds report

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  1. What role did Building Control play? Surely 1 visit by a competent Building Inspector would have identified the issue. In England and wales where we have a competitive system (I declare a bias) each school would have had 20-30 visits and a rigorous plans assessment (either by Independent or LABC).

    We receive calls every week from customers working in Scotland asking us to provide Building Control in Scotland, the market wants it and it appears the public need it.

  2. I see poor workmanship all the time in my role as a surveyor who post inspects work. A big issue is the lack of knowledge on the management side. If you dont know what it should look like you cant supervise it adequately..

  3. Everywhere are doing away with clerk of works, and allowing the main contractor to self certify the work carried out.
    If its left to an independent c.o.w there is always a better end result.

  4. It is a risk to put people untrained and without proper supervision… without control over what is being done, There is no guarantee of success

  5. Cut price tendering is the problem, as the Client wants a Rolls for the price of a Mini & the contractor cuts back on site management. Clients therefore, cut back on CofW supervision & council’s Building Inspectors either don’t have the nessary time to inspect their projects or they’re inexperienced. However, although the buck must stop with the contractor, where was the Architect?

  6. Appalling situation all brought about by senior management .clients and architects who cut corners to increase productivity and ultimately maximize profit margins .
    I spent twenty six years with the MOW and DOE supervising major projects my passion was quality control and in the main good results were the norm, but as far as the abysmal situations on some contracts in this day and age there will be no improvements in quality until contractors ,clients and architects give more attention to site control and employ Clerks of Works as a matter of course.

  7. Again the cost cutting almost cost young lives,where was the clerk pf works?? where was the regular inspections which should have been carried out by the P.C.I expect the P.C site management team was a ONE man team looking after a large job.

  8. Richard, how many Architects would be able to specify a brick wall tie correctly, and inspect on site?

    Technical competency is not exactly a core concern of ARB, from what I have seen in working in the UK, nor a concern of the majority of Architects.

  9. Will we never learn
    Ruskin 1819-1900
    “It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When
    you pay too much, you lose a little money – that’s all. When you pay
    too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you
    bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The
    common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a
    lot – it can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well
    to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will
    have enough to pay for something better.”

  10. There are number of comments regarding not paying enough and price driven procurement, however my understanding is that this was procured on a framework with early contractor involvement (presumably selected on a qualitative basis with both price and quality playing a part) and a D&B contract. the prime failure is one of quality workmanship which comes down to trainiing (knowing whats right) and motivation (being bothered to do it right), the secondary failure is supervision and again it comes down to training and motivation. I have long been concerned that site managers are overstretched and a lot of those working in bigger contractors don’t really know enough construction, and rely on the subcontractors to do it right because they don’t know.
    Whilst I agree with Ruskin about paying too little, just because you pay a bit more doesn’t mean you automatically get something better – you need to understand not just how much you’re paying but what you’re getting for your money; and if you don’t have the technical knowledge to ask the right questions and make the right checks how can you know?

  11. Another facet re.the appalling failures to achieve satisfactory standards on both civils and general construction projects was the decision made some thirty years ago by clients architects local authorities etc to let contracts whereby the selected contractor was responsible for design as well as construction and more recently total supervision ( quality control ); all to the approval of those responsible for initiation. There is no doubt in my mind that when it comes to ensuring that the regulations and the criteria for satisfactory construction are to be met ,third party inspections by qualified professionals are required and not one employed by the contractor.

  12. Bob, much as I’ve worked on many D&B projects as one of the architects, I must agree with you.

    It was for me less than impressive to be told off by a site manager for one company on a project, for daring to take photos of plasterboard walls with puddles at their bases, because water had been pouring through due to the lack of a roof.

    On the same site later, being told in no uncertain words by his successor that any comments I might make on a report by TRADA (requested by his predecessor) on the quality of the project were extremely unwelcome, and were not to be repeated at all. I was to do as I was specifically asked to do, and that was the end of it.

    On another project, I fought a lot running saga on quality of electrical fittings, with an MEP subcontractor who was quite aggressive (and quite manipulative) only to find it was a waste of time when the PM (put on the spot) decided it wasn’t worth bothering, when even the Electrical engineers (who had failed to engage at any time with the project) didn’t give a toss about quality.

    [I wonder how many of the fittings have been replaced by now, seeing as most if not all of the external IP rated fittings were half full of water only 2 weeks into opening?]

    That we end up blaming the architect, who in many cases now is treated as just another subcontractor, is at times in my opinion quite misleading, when responsibility is usually elsewhere (rot starts at the head) and the Architect has little or no power beyond lead design consultant (pretty pictures and planning approval)

  13. The challenge does need to be there, as others have said a COW will look and “poke” around and whilst that is ongoing it does keep the contractor on his toes.
    We have “Systems” for quality but you cannot beat getting off your backside and getting out there on the field and looking! As a construction auditor/ Quality Manager I have seen pristine sign off sheets in the office which look great but when you actually delve deeper and look at the work carried out they are not always reflective of each other!

  14. I am afraid I have to take issue re.your comment in respect of a Clerk of Works duties in that he visits a site and “pokes around”!! I agree that a lot of quality control inspections are carried out by regular site visits but on a lot of major construction sites a C of W is employed full time and I can assure you that person does a whole lot more than you have stated, with the architect and contractor, keeping full site and progress records ,ensuring safety and access conditions are met, issuing variation orders etc. and of course ensuring good building and engineering practices (quality control) .

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