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Tender Documents and Maintenance Costs

AUST  Hendry advises inadequate tender documentation for essential safety measures maintenance contracts for buildings will cost the building owner and property professional a lot of time, worry and money and prevent them from confidently signing the annual maintenance statement.

We trust this article will bring to the building owner’s attention, the issues that should be accounted for under the Building Regulations for essential safety measures tender document.

/ INSUFFICIENT INFORMATION
Insufficient information in a tender document for maintenance of essential safety measures is a recipe for disaster for all concerned. In a number of tenders it appears the primary focus is to ensure the cheapest possible quotation is obtained. These types of tenders do not ensure that the owner’s minimum duty of care or statutory obligations under relevant building regulations will be met. Most tenders do not contain a good quality control system or verification process to validate contractor’s maintenance compliance, even during the defects liability period which is usually twelve months. Obviously these processes add cost and are therefore left behind.

/ TENDER DOCUMENT DEFICIENCIES
Some of the following issues contain glaring deficiencies in essential safety measures tender documents.

Advising maintenance contractors that it is their responsibility to ensure compliance with all regulations and Australian Standards relative to essential safety measures:

  • Not all building regulations and standards apply to the nominated essential safety measures. Therefore how would the maintenance contractor know?
  • In many situations specific statutory documentation (determinations, occupancy permits, essential safety measures schedules, notices, etc.) is issued by an authority for compliance, but not provided to tenderers, leaving a minefield of variations
  • Leaving it to the maintenance contractor to determine the number of inspections or testing routines with insufficient compliance documentation
  • Employees of maintenance contractors are not necessarily aware of all the regulations and again, token consideration to compliance is given when annual maintenance statements are to be signed
  • To stay in business contractors will often sign an annual maintenance statement. What credence can be given to the annual maintenance statement when it is left to the contractor to decide what does or does not comply?
  • A signed annual maintenance statement by a maintenance contractor will provide little protection for the building owner in court. Building owners cannot delegate their responsibilities under statutory building regulations and will bear sole responsibility when receiving a building notice. The building owner’s agreement with the maintenance contractor, which is based on the contractor’s tender documentation for example, will substantially contribute to the outcome of the proceedings.

/ KNOWLEDGE
Documents that provide potentially unacceptable outcomes for the building owner are often drafted through ignorance of compliance building regulations and as such are solely driven by price.

A tender writer can no longer rely on prior knowledge where building regulations provides the basis for inspections, testing and maintenance. The subject area is not broad, however the consequences of non compliance for all stakeholders will be harsh.

Although across Australia there are no uniform processes in place to ensure buildings are maintained to an acceptable level, you can be assured that local authorities will act when an emergency or incident occurs in a building, utilising the punitive provisions of their building regulations against the building owner where there is a lack of compliance.

Maintenance tender documents must reflect the building regulations imposed on the building owner. They should specify the frequency of the inspections and delivery of statutory documentation (occupancy permit, essential safety measures determinations/ schedules) for accurate assessments to be made by the contractors, or spell these conditions out in the scope of works, and nominate minimum qualifications for the operatives involved in inspections of essential safety measures in a building.

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