Published: 11/07/2014

As a Landlord or RTM Board you will at some point likely face the prospect of facilitating the internal common parts refurbishment of your block.  Appoint a surveyor, prepare specification, tender the works, appoint contractor and off you go!  But what if there is the requirement to re-wire or install a new fire alarm system?  Do we need a services consultant as well to deal with these aspects?

It is possible that the surveyor incorporate electrical design into a Specification particularly where there is minimal electrical design required.  However, this is an area where the client (and surveyor) should exercise caution.

Most internal common parts contracts, even if of relative high value, are administered under the auspices of a JCT Minor Works Contract.  The Specification document, usually drawn up by a surveyor, includes a full description of the detail of the works.  This can include electrical services installations.  If an electrical design specification is to be provided, this must be procured correctly to ensure full design responsibility lies with the appropriate party.  This can be achieved using the Design Supplement under the JCT Contract(s).

Two key elements must be dealt with effectively;

Firstly the surveyor must ensure that the Specification includes sufficiently detailed and coherent design parameter information.  This will include descriptions of the installations required and the standards to which the design is to satisfy.  Essentially the Specification must spell out the Client Requirements and where at all possible this information should be supported by making references to product choice, manufacturer stipulations and marked up plans.  It is also highly recommended that an up to date electrical test be carried out and the resultant report and test information be provided as an appendix to the Specification.  If all of this is achieved then the tendering contactor should be left in no doubt as to what is required and subsequently the tender pricing will be more accurate.

Secondly, it is also absolutely imperative that any appointed contractor is experienced and qualified to undertake such design works and that that they hold adequate professional indemnity insurance.  It would be pointless, negligent and high risk to client and surveyor if the design liability was given over to a contractor who is ill equipped and under insured to do so.  As part of the pre-tender process of contractor selection, where a design portion is expected, the surveyor must be tasked with checking that the contractor and the electrical sub-contractor hold the appropriate insurance cover.

For larger projects, or where a traditional design is required, it is strongly recommended that an electrical consultant be instructed.  They will be more qualified and experienced to provide an assessment of the current service installation and subsequently detail those works required to increase capacity, or amend the system as required.

In summary the use of a Design Portion can be used effectively where the electrical works are not complex.  This has the dual benefits of reducing consultant fees and transferring the design liability to the contractor.  Smiles all round!