A preliminaries bill lists items which apply to the contract as a whole, such as insurance of works, offices for the resident engineer, provision of laboratory, surveying equipment, transport, telephone and tests on materials or the works. The units of measurement will be appropriate to the type of item, lump sum, or per week or month, or per number of tests, etc. Sometimes an item needs to be split into two parts, such as a lump sum for provision of the engineer’s site office, with a second item for its maintenance per week or month. Such items listed by the engineer in the bill must be supported by descriptions in the specification stating exactly what the contractor is to provide.
See Fig. 15.1 which shows part of the first page of a preliminaries bill drawn up according to CESMM.
The engineer may list temporary works the contractor has to provide, such as access roads, a temporary sewage treatment plant and similar. The listing of such temporary works permits the contractor to put a price to them, which may be to his advantage. Insurance is costly, so that if a tenderer prices this item, he can be reimbursed his expenditure on it as soon as he shows evidence of obtaining it. He does not have to wait for its reimbursement as he would have to if he spread the cost over the constructional items. Also, a priced item for such as the site sewage treatment works to be provided by the contractor is of advantage to the employer, since payment for such works can be withheld if
the plant is not as specified or does not work properly. However, the pricing of a tender is in the tenderer’s hands and he does not have to put a price to any of the items listed by the engineer in the preliminaries bill. He can mark them ‘included’ meaning the cost of meeting the item requirements is included in his bill rates for the construction items, or he may enter a low figure.
A tenderer may sometimes add an item which is not in the list set out in the preliminaries bill. For instance, he might wish to separately price some especially expensive temporary works equipment, such as steel shuttering. However, the employer may have laid down in the Instructions to Tenderers that ‘no items shall be added to the bill of quantities’. The employer can refuse to consider such a tender; but if it is the lowest tender received the employer may decide nevertheless to consider it. This depends on the rules under which the employer himself operates, such as the standing rules of a public authority, or government regulations. Normally, however, an extra item or two added by a tenderer in the preliminaries bill would not be taken as invalidating a tender.
Some contracts specifically allow this by writing in the preliminaries bill ‘Other items added by contractor…’. If a tenderer does add such items they should be discussed at tender negotiation stage to agree how they should be paid. For example, payment of a lump sum for steel shuttering might need to be agreed as a certain percentage on delivery, the balance on completion of its use.
The ICE standard method of measurement of 1985 recognized that items of the foregoing kind could be added by tenderers. It called them ‘methodrelated’ items, though they are not confined to construction methods but include organizational measures as well. The CESMM, 3rd edition, lists over forty such matters that a tenderer can add, covering such as – accommodation (offices, stores, canteen, etc.); services (water, power, site transport, welfare, etc.); plant and temporary works of many kinds, ‘supervision and labour’, and also permits a tenderer to add other method-related items not in those listed. All such method-related items have to be priced as lump sums, defined as either fixed or time related. If fixed, the lump sum is only payable when the work itemized is completed. If ‘time-related’ the payments are spread out over the time taken to achieve completion of the work covered by the item (see clarification in Section 16.4). Clearly some items, such as supervision, site transport, welfare, should not be designated as ‘fixed’ as there is no definable time when they could be said to be completed, other than the end of the contract.
A tenderer has to define exactly what any item added by him covers, and whether it is fixed or time-related. Figure 15.2 shows some typical method-related items entered by a tenderer.
Division of items in the preliminaries bill
The standard method has five main divisions or categories of items that can
be put in the Class A preliminaries bill:
1. ‘contractual requirements’ (bond and insurances);
2. ‘specified requirements’;
3. the ‘method-related charges’ referred to above which the tenderer is to insert;
4. ‘provisional sums’;
5 and 6. ‘Nominated sub-contracts’, which include work done on site, and
work, such as manufacture, done off site respectively.
The ‘specified requirements’ (2) cover accommodation and services for the engineer’s site staff, tests on materials, etc., and a range of temporary works that the engineer might wish to itemize.
The difference between temporary works the engineer itemizes as ‘specified requirements’ under Division 2 of the Class A bill, and the temporary works which a tenderer adds as ‘method-related’ items under Division 3 should be noted. The former have to be fully specified by the engineer in the contract;
the latter do not, being left to the tenderer to describe. Thus if the contractor is required in the specification general clauses to construct some temporary access road, then if the engineer itemizes it as a ‘specified requirement’ in Division 2 the details of it must be fully described in the specification or contract drawings. If the engineer does not know how the access road should be constructed because he does not know what traffic the contractor will put on it, then he should not itemize it in Division 2 but leave it to the contractor to add in Division 3 as a method-related item, if he so wishes.
It is important to follow the standard method requirements exactly, or problems of interpretation leading to claims from the contractor may arise. Of course the contract can expressly state that items in the Class A Preliminaries Bill are not drawn up in accordance with the standard method; but then care has to be taken to define what each item entered covers so there is no ambiguity.
Problems with Civil Engineering Standard Method of Measurement
The whole concept of payment for temporary works as set out in CESMM can be called into question, as it creates potential ambiguities. The engineer may choose not to itemize any temporary works under ‘specified requirements’ because he leaves such works for the contractor to decide. But the contractor may maintain that the list of temporary works given in CESMM A.2.7 (such as traffic diversion, access roads and de-watering) entitles him to payment for those works on the same principle as – when an item which CESMM lists for measurement is found missing – the item has to be added to a bill (see end of Section 17.2). To avoid this ambiguity the preamble to the bill should state that Class Aitems shall be measured only to the extent they are included in the contract at the time of the award; thus fixing the temporary work items measured.
Another difficulty arises with method-related items. CESMM clauses state that a method-related charge does not bind the contractor to use the method defined (Clause 7.5); is not subject to admeasurement (Clause 7.6); and is not to be increased or decreased for any change of method adopted by the contractor (Clause 7.8). But when the engineer orders a variation of some permanent work, the contractor may claim that bill rates for similar work do not apply, because the temporary works associated with that work have changed but the method-related item of charge remains fixed. This can raise debatable issues concerning method-related charges which are defined as not subject to admeasurement and they need bear no relationship to actual methods the contractor uses.
Under ICE Conditions (Clause 14(7)) the engineer is only required to state why a proposed method by the contractor fails to meet the contract requirements or would be detrimental to the permanent works. It is left to the contractor to decide what method he will adopt to gain the engineer’s consent.
Hence, if the engineer has no reason to specify a particular method, he should avoid mentioning any lest this be interpreted as a ‘specified requirement’ as discussed above. Also acceptance of a method-related item in a contract does not imply the engineer has given his consent to the method stated. The preamble to the bill may need to make this clear.