Regulated by RICS

We’re navigating through unchartered territory, managing new ways of working and figuring out whether projects on site can continue safely or not. For many, this is resulting in site shut downs and we’re having to reach for the contract we had signed at the start of the job and hoped we would never refer to again.

This is one of a series of Hollis briefings on how to tackle common tasks during the Coronavirus restrictions. Read our short guide summarising some of the situations that may give rise to sites closing, what employers need to look out for, and the key actions for contractors.

So, what do you need to do under the circumstances of a site closure?

As an employer:

  1. Understand your contract – most contracts will have your bespoke amendments and may affect the clauses relating to relevant events and relevant matters.
  2. If your site closes, make sure you advise your insurer and broker immediately.
  3. Ask your team to undertake a Project Risk Assessment to determine what additional measures are required to safely secure the site and its contents. The Contractor should confirm immediately their intentions for site security.
  4. Understand the position of materials on and off site. It may be wise to have materials off site inspected, where safe to do so, and photographic records which are date stamped and geo-tagged taken. Your teams should ensure materials on site included in valuations have been paid for by the contractor and suppliers have no rights for removal.
  5. Maintain a level of progress reporting and valuations. Your teams must be in regular contact with the contractor to understand conditions on site and when they expect to re-start. Monthly progress reports and valuations should be maintained, even if the valuations are zero to ensure your obligations under the contract are fulfilled.
  6. Ensure contractual obligations continue to be adhered to. For example, decisions on extensions of time within the prescribed timescales.
  7. Obtain, where possible, copies of Collateral Warranties and don’t wait for the end of the project.

As a contractor:

  1. Formally notify, under the terms of the contract, that you believe there is a delay as soon as aware. Separate notifications may be required for relevant events and relevant matters. Without formal notification, redress under the contract may not be possible.
  2. Secure the site and advise the client of your methodology and process for maintaining security. Consider taking plant and machinery off hire and off site and explain whether other procedures such as batter back open excavations are being undertaken.
  3. Update the Construction Phase Plan and risk assessments.
  4. Keep detailed records. For example, if a delay is to be claimed as Force Majeure as a relevant event for COVID-19, evidence will be needed to demonstrate that the delay is solely as a result of COVID-19.
  5. Issue regular (weekly) updates to the employer and project team on site security, suppliers, sub-contractors and the updated programme with an estimate as to when the site will re-start.
  6. When continuing to operate sites, ensure that you are operating within the guidelines set out in the Site Operating Procedures, which are published and regularly updated by the Construction Leadership Council.

Ensuring your health and safety arrangements are in place

As an employer you will be liable for health and safety matters on site and ensuring that your principal contractor has made suitable updates to their health and safety arrangements under CDM2015. We can conduct independent health and safety reviews focussing on operative welfare immediately on site, working within Government COVID-19 guidelines.

Our teams may be working remotely, but are all connected and continuing to find a way to support clients and deliver projects. Here are some ways we can help:

  • Drone surveys of sites undertaking detailed aerial views of site conditions, materials on site and security provisions
  • Conducting site inspections when works re-start
  • Independent health and safety reviews on sites working within Government COVID-19 guidelines
  • Photographic schedules of condition
  • Materials off-site inspections
  • And more…

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch should you have any questions.