Just sling the bricks up, no-one will notice!

One of the last Engineering projects I was involved with was a very sensitive construction & building site just south of the Thames, right in the centre of London. I was involved with main mechanical and electrical installations of this project, but I also had to learn a great deal about civil engineering as well; as I found out that the Main Contractor was trying to slip by all kinds of; not exactly shoddy workmanship, but ways to make thing easier and of course cheaper whilst the building progressed. A case in point was their approach to the building of the outer walls, which were to be a feature of the building, as the outer walls were all expensive face brickwork, close to blockwork as the inside main building material, and tied securely to the inner blockwork by means of strictly-regulated ties, of either flat plate or sturdy twisted-wire stainless-steel construction. I can tell you that, once I studied the actual design, and viewed the extent of complete work; I made them take down twenty-odd yards of six-block-high inner blockwork; and then ensure that the correct ties were in place before the blockwork was reinstated. Time and time again, through constant reminders to do the job correctly, I made the Contractor live up to the Specification, because without my presence, there would have been no concrete ‘slump’ inspections before the concrete was pumped out of the mixer truck; for just one example. I also ensured that shoddy work was simply not tolerated on the roof steelwork, thus earning myself the title of ‘that bearded Resident Engineering bastard from the Consultants’.
So you can understand why I highlight this report on the disgraceful standards of workmanship and a complete lack of inspection prevalent at 17 schools in Edinburgh. Ignore the fact that they were built under PFI and PPI contracts, just concentrate on the fact that there were probably no independent Engineers or Inspectors on site, because we are, and were, expensive!

8 comments for “Just sling the bricks up, no-one will notice!

  1. Xopher
    April 12, 2016 at 8:42 pm

    My son, a builder, tells me many sites, especially social housing ones, pay rates around 40% below the market rate. Strangely enough they have a massive turnover of poor tradesmen, end up with substandard results and probably end up saving nothing..

  2. Errol
    April 12, 2016 at 10:05 pm

    An epithet we adopt at work – with software development – is ‘there’s never enough time to do it right, but always enough time to do it again’.

    It is backward and daft. No one cares about quality any more. Let’s be honest here, the contractor is charging twice for work it did badly the first time, likely deliberately as the PFI contract will be so badly written such failure clauses were never considered.

    • April 24, 2016 at 6:32 am

      So very true. ‘The customer wants it fast and cheap!’. That always turns out more expensive in the end.

  3. Invicta
    April 13, 2016 at 6:44 am

    It can work both ways whereby there are large numbers of Client inspectors and engineers on site with so little experience and therefore cheap, that they write NCRs for absolutely everything just to cover their backsides because they don’t know what they’re looking at. This leads to avoidable and massive time and cost overruns which ends up costing Projects millions (there’s only project risk, client/contractor risk is a myth). If this is a government contract then the Taxpayer pays.

    Whichever way you look at it, the public always pay over the odds either in time, cost or disruption down the line. Until government infrastructure and building projects are headed by experienced engineers and not bean counters and professional project managers it isn’t going to change.

  4. April 13, 2016 at 6:59 am

    Once again, the system put the comments in spam. Sorry – once the head hit the pillow last evening, it was lampshade time. Shall speak with our people.

  5. marc
    April 13, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    Worked on a building in Islington our European friends were placing steel pipe inside of steel pipe to make reducers,the effort and time involved would have paid for the reducers twenty times over.I was told that was the way it was done in Rupolibu and it was good enough for them it was good enough for us.

  6. The Jannie
    April 13, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    One thing you can be sure of is that on a dodgy PFI contract – most of them! – you’ll never find anyone to blame in the council who signed up to it. The councillors will say ” we have to take advice from our technical staff”, the technical staff will say ” we have to work to the instructions of the elected members”. Then, by the time the excrement really starts to fly, they’ll all have moved on to another unsuspecting local authority. Works a treat.

    • April 24, 2016 at 6:33 am

      Again, so true! There are no consequences, so there’ll never be any change.

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