Project managment

Some important points the resident engineer should watch

Some important provisions of the ICE conditions of contract that need to be borne in mind by the RE are as follows:
1. All instructions to the contractor have to be given in writing or, if given orally, have to be confirmed in writing ‘as soon as is possible under the circumstances’ (Clause 2(6)(b)).
2. If the contractor receives an oral instruction and confirms it in writing, and the engineer does not contradict such confirmation ‘forthwith’, then the confirmation is ‘deemed an instruction in writing by the engineer’ (Clause 2(6)(b)). These confirmations of verbal instructions – or ‘CVIs’ as they are called – can raise special difficulties for the RE and the problems of handling them are dealt with in detail in Sections 13.3 and 17.6.
3. Although an RE may not have been delegated powers to decide how much should be paid (if anything) against a contractor’s claim for extra payment, he has powers to write to the contractor stating his views on the claim. It is imperative he should do so, in each case, so that the facts as he sees them are on record.
4. There are numerous ‘time clauses’ in the conditions of contract, that is, clauses stipulating some time limit within which the engineer (and therefore probably the RE also) must take action. An important instance is the requirement that the engineer must comment on the contractor’s proposed programme within 21 days of its receipt, otherwise the engineer is deemed to have accepted it (Clause 14(2)). The same, in effect, applies to any partprogramme or revised programme the contractor supplies. Consequently if the engineer fails to comment within 21 days, the contractor’s programme is deemed approved and anomalies may be introduced if the programme does not reflect the specified timing.
5. The RE has to ensure that the contractor receives all approvals, drawings, details and other information he needs to construct the works, in good time; otherwise the contractor may claim for delay (Clause 7(4)).
6. The RE should not accept lower grade materials or workmanship than that specified, even if the contractor offers a lower rate of charge than the bill rate for the specified material, unless the engineer agrees to this. Such a change is a variation requiring issue of a VO.
7. The RE must give immediate notice to the contractor when any defects in materials or workmanship are observed, because it may be very difficult to rectify a defective part of the work after it is completed. Hence inspections  of quality should take place as soon as an operation starts, or as soon as material to be used in the permanent works is delivered to site.

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