Do you have remedial works coming up? Who’s the super?

Do you have remedial works coming up? Who’s the super?
Tom Bacon

During COVID, a number of owners’ corporations (OCs) deferred major remedial works projects that were due to be undertaken.

These projects were deferred for a number of reasons – mainly due to the COVID lockdown, work from home constraints, and also concerns about cashflow, it was difficult to pass on special levies and fees to owners who were already struggling to pay their bills. There was also a general concern about lack of builder availability and scarcity of construction supplies.

Fast forward three years to today and now we are finding that a number of OCs are just about ready to push the start button on these same remedial works projects.

However, during the past three years, the cost of construction has increased by 21 per cent in Victoria (according to new data published by WT Partnership in November). On top of that, there has been a number of small and medium companies that have gone into administration which reduces the competitiveness of the market overall and leads to further prices increased.

Insurers in the construction sector have also increased policy premiums year on year by around eight per cent over the past four years, and with a new and expanded Victorian Building Authority keeping a closer eye over builders, there is less opportunity to implement a more basic scope of works for a cheaper price.

What all of this means is that OCs have disadvantaged themselves massively by not undertaking these remedial works at an earlier opportunity.

What I am seeing from several OCs is that committees are electing to save costs and cut corners by not appointing a project manager or superintendent to oversee the works. This is a mistake, and, in my view, the superintendent is almost a must if the works involved are going to exceed $500,000.

A good superintendent will oversee the contractor and will be onsite every week. They will assess all progress claims, perform inspections, advise and assist on access issues, and will act as the conduit between the committee, building manager and the contractors.

Importantly, the superintendent will assess on behalf of both parties as to whether the contractor gets to vary the contract due to latent and unexpected problems (or whether the risk was known, and the contractor ought to have known of the potential for the problem).

The superintendent will assess whether the contractor will be penalised or their fees deducted for finishing late, or for taking too long to do the works.

All of this work is well and truly justified and is not something which a building manager or a retired committee member can do, as they are not qualified to do so.

A good superintendent will save you thousands, get the job done quicker, and ensure the quality is high. It is definitely not a cost to compromise on.  •

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