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Agenda item

Scrutiny Review ( Major Works) Presentation by Head of Capital Programme Delivery


Members received a presentation from Christine Short, Head of Capital Programme and Delivery. A copy of the presentation is interleaved with the agenda.

The following main points were noted in the presentation and in the discussion:

·         Major works are planned, anticipated and often involve the renewal of major building components and tend to be of high value. Major works affect the whole block and in most cases the whole estate.

·         Members were advised that considering major works tend to be high value, leaseholder consultation is mandatory especially as they will be charged for the works carried out. Similarly, resident consultation is carried out seeking their ideas and suggestions about the works.

·         Major works is divided into 3 distinct phases, planning and information gathering, the design of the works and when work commences. The Asset Management database remains the primary source as it contains detailed information about the block and flats; what and when works had been carried out such as installation of roofs, kitchens, bathrooms, doors and windows and their guarantees. As part of the information gathering exercise advice is sought from the responsive repairs team, Area Housing Officers and Estate Services in assessing works to be carried out.

·         Members were advised that as a result of the high level of investments over the years the council now has a 10 year rolling programme instead of 7 years. The Council has a budget of £20M-£30M p.a. to carry out major works. All major works are split into projects to be managed by a project manager whose first task is to carry out an initial inspection of the building aided with photographs. Project managers will subsequently facilitate a resident consultation meeting to discuss the works and an opportunity to gather information and identify issues which a visual inspection may not necessarily reveal. Things such as resident experiencing similar issues with their internal drainage, or offer suggestions to address anti-social behaviour which could be addressed by some landscaping solutions.

·         After the meeting with residents, the project manager has an on-site meeting with the appointed contractor where the scope of the works is discussed, the merits of materials and systems are researched to find the best solutions to certain specific issues and problems.

·         The design stage involves plans and drawings being prepared and planning permission will be sought especially where windows are to be replaced.  During this period prices for all elements are calculated, discussed and eventually agreed. Also Section 20 notices are served on leaseholders which details the works to be carried out from which an estimated cost will be provided to the leaseholder. On completion of this exercise, a works order is eventually issued to the contractor.

·         The works phase involves the contractor setting up a site office, organises sub- contractors which involves tendering for the various tasks to ensure that they receive the best prices. The preparation at this point is really important as it helps to ensure that all the different trades are synchronised. At this stage the project manager changes his role and become the Contract Administrator. This is a contractual term and really means the building surveyor who manages the contract that oversees the project to ensure that programme runs smoothly and the cost is managed.

·         While work is ongoing the service appoints a clerk of works who checks the quality of the works. The service monitors the works carried out as the contractor submits a spreadsheet every week which details progress of work. monthly call meetings are conducted between the management of both organisations.

·         Members were advised that once works start on site there are always unexpected work that requires decisions and some which will affect the price. Although the Contract Administrator is responsible for making all decisions, those with financial implications are referred to the project Quantity Surveyor to negotiate. The project Quantity Surveyor will track expenditure and agree monthly valuations of work and release stage payments. In all projects, work is inspected and signed off by the contract administrator after inspections by clerk of works and mechanical and electrical inspectors. Any snagging items identified during the process are resolved. Members were reminded that for all major work, a 12 month’s defects liability is incorporated into the contract which ensures that they rectify any issue identified after the completion of the works and handover.

·         In response to a question regarding remedial costs incurred by works carried out by contractors, the Head of Capital Programme and Delivery advised that any damage caused by contractors whilst carrying out their works was the responsibility of the contractors as they were duty bound to rectify it and did not result in additional cost to the Council. 

·         In response to a Members concern regarding the contractor involved in works on Highbury Quadrant Estate and their lack of communication with the residents, the Head of Capital Programme acknowledged that she would raise it with the project manager and revert back with a detailed response.

·         On the question on whether bidders could be excluded from any current procurement exercise as a result of their previous performances, the meeting was advised that bids are assessed on the submission provided as part of the procurement process, Officers are not permitted to use background knowledge when marking submissions. Sometimes bids are anonymised to ensure fairness to all. The meeting was further advised that although Officers seek references for shortlisted contractors, they would not write a reference themselves for a contractor that had worked for Islington.

That the presentation be noted.


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