The Conker Approach

Adjacent is a brief guide to the process we have found that makes for a successful and stress-free project.  This may vary slightly from the traditional RIBA or RICS Plan of Work, but it suits the higher standard of detail needed for our projects.

Initial Consultation

Consultations can be by phone, email or in person.  Site visits can be arranged subject to fitting in around our current schedule.

Consultations are designed to gain an understanding of the project and advice required, and enable us to prepare a detailed fee quote.  The RICS code of conduct we follow requires us to be employed with clear written instructions, we will therefore provide you with terms for signing before commencing work.

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Measured Survey, Building Analysis and Testing

The first stage in any construction project is to understand the building. Whether new build, refurbishment, or extension, some form of measured survey or topographical survey will be required to create plans of the site or building.

For existing buildings we strongly recommend carrying out air leakage testing combined with infra-red thermography to establish how draughty the building is and the main areas of heatloss.

As chartered building surveyors we can also offer a detailed building survey.

 

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Design Development

Develop the outline design with freehand sketches, assess rough cost using square metre rates, evaluate consultants required, review further testing and surveys necessary for the project.

Assist client in developing a detailed brief.

 

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Detailed Design and Building Regulations

This is the most critical stage in the design of a low energy sustainable building.  In order to build to Passivhaus standard or AECB building standard we must produce considerably more detail than is required for building regulation approval.  We must create detailed drawings showing how thermal bridges and airtightness are dealt with at each critical interface, such as DPC level; window head/jamb/cill; door thresholds; eaves; verges; ridges.  We also prepare a detailed window schedule, schematic ventilation layout, incoming services schematic, electrical and lighting layout.

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Specification and Tender

In order to obtain accurate quotes from a selection of suitable contractors we must prepare a specification of works, this document consists of 3 sections: Preliminaries which describes the form of building contract to be used, the contract conditions and health and safety; Preambles which describes the work standards; the Schedule of Works which describes the project in detail, and includes provisional sums and contingencies for unforeseen work.

Tenders are usually invited from at least 3 contractors, we analyse the figures received and provide a detailed tender report with our recommendations.

We will only invite tenders from reliable, reputable contractors who are VAT registered, carry insurance, and have undertaken health and safety training.

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Construction Design and Management Regulations (CDM)

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM Regulations) are intended to ensure that health and safety issues are properly considered during project development to reduce any risk to construction workers, building occupiers and building maintainers.

The regulations were introduced in 1994, revised in 2007 and a further revision came into force on 6 April 2015.  The regulations now apply to domestic clients.

As a domestic client on a project involving more than one contractor you are required under the regulations to appoint a principal designer and in due course a principal contractor (Regulation 5).

Client duties under the regulations are summarised below, but note as a domestic client these duties are automatically transferred to the Principal Contractor or alternatively by written agreement with the Principal Designer.

  • Make arrangements for managing the project to ensure no risks to Health and Safety; including allocating sufficient time and resources to do so.
  • Ensure these arrangements are maintained and reviewed throughout the project.
  • Notify HSE before works start if the project is notifiable (last longer than 30 days and have more than 20 workers working simultaneously at any point OR exceeds 500 person days.)
  • Provide pre-construction information to designers and contractors as soon as practicable.
  • Ensure construction phase plan is drawn up by principal contractor before construction work begins.
  • Ensure principal designer prepares a compliant health and safety file and this is kept available for inspection at any time.
  • Take steps to ensure principal designer and principal contractor complies with duties under the regulations.
  • Client to provide the health and safety file to any person who acquires an interest in the property.

The principal designer’s duties are summarised below;

  • Informing the client of their duties under the regulations
  • Planning, managing and monitoring health and safety in pre-construction phase
  • Take into account general principals of risk prevention when preparing or modifying a design.
  • Identify and eliminate/control any foreseeable risks.
  • Helping compile pre-construction information and providing it to designers and contractors.
  • Preparing health and safety file and reviewing/updating as project progresses.
  • Liaising with principal contractor to help in planning, managing, monitoring and co-ordination of construction phase.
  • Ensuring all persons working in relation to pre-construction phase cooperate with Client and each other.
  • Checking that designers have sufficient skills, knowledge, experience and organisational capability to carry out the work.

The principal contractor’s duties are summarised below;

  • Before setting up a construction site, draw up a construction phase plan setting out H&S arrangements and site rules, taking into account any industrial activities and including specific measures concerning work which falls within one or more of the categories set out in Schedule 3.
  • Review construction phase plan throughout project, update and revise it accordingly.
  • Provide principal designer with any information relevant to their production of the health and safety file.
  • If principal designer’s appointment ends before end of project, pc must ensure health and safety file is reviewed/updated and passed to Client on completion.
  • Plan, manage and monitor construction phase to ensure works carried out without risk to H&S.
  • Coordinate matters relating to H&S during construction phase.
  • Coordinate between contractors to ensure implementation of legal requirements and application of general principles of avoidance of risk.
  • Ensure suitable site induction provided.
  • Ensure unauthorised site access prevented.
  • Ensure welfare facilities comply.
  • Liaise with principal designer for the duration of their appointment and share information relevant to H&S.
  • Engage and consult with construction workers in relation to H&S matters and have H&S information available for inspection/copy.

The contractor’s duties are summarised below (where only one contractor involved or a contractor other than principal contractor)

  • Ensure client aware of duties under regulations (where only one contractor)
  • Plan, manage and monitor construction work without risks to H&S
  • Comply with directions given by principle designer or principle contractor
  • Take account of general principle of risk prevention when design, technical and organisational aspects being decided and when estimating period of time required to complete the work.
  • Draw up construction phase plan prior to setting up site.
  • Do not employ workers unless they have necessary skill, training and experience to carry out work that secures H&S of any person working on site.
  • Provide workers with appropriate supervision, instruction and information to enable works without risk to H&S.
  • Provide site induction training.
  • Have emergency procedures in place.
  • Provide information on risks to H&S and any other information relevant to comply with statutory provisions.
  • Prevent unauthorised site access.
  • Provide welfare facilities.
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Contract Administration

The work on site must always be carried out under a formal building contract, there are several types of suitable contract, most of which require a contract administrator such as a surveyor or architect.  This stage is critical to ensure that the work is carried out to the correct standard, especially with regard to avoiding thermal bridges and airleakage.

It takes many years of experience to become a good contract administrator, but new problems will be encountered on every project due to the variations of ground conditions, weather, legal and political changes, etc.

The importance of this stage cannot be underestimated, and it is time consuming.

We usually carry out a weekly inspection, and also deal with technical queries by phone and email.  Every month we will assess the extent of work completed and agree how much money the contractor is due.  We will evaluate variations to the contract and issue instructions and updated drawings.  We record each of our visits in writing, to keep the client informed of progress, and hold monthly formal meetings with the team.

We advise the client regarding changes, additions and omissions to the work, as these can have significant impacts on the final cost and completion dates.

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Soft Landings

A low energy building is like a high performance car, it needs to be fine tuned over a period of time to get the best results.  Heating systems, ventilation systems, renewable energy systems, windows and doors all need to be adjusted, monitored and maintained.

Most contracts include a 6 months defects period, we return to inspect the property and arrange for the contractor to rectify any defects under the contract, we also advise of any actions necessary outside the contract.

As drying out can take a year or more in very airtight buildings we like to re-inspect at 12 months and 24 months.

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