Early matters to discuss with the agent

Items to be discussed will almost certainly concern the laying on of services to the job – telephone, water supply, electric power and drainage. Even with use of mobile telephones a land line is required as quickly as possible and the telephone authority may need assistance in getting permission to run lines across private properties. The agent may ask the resident engineer to approve proposals for hard standing for cars and the routing of access roads.
The question of drainage and sanitation may prove difficult to solve. The resident engineer has to watch that the contractual requirement to provide a ‘small sewage treatment works’ does not get whittled down to no more than a tank and a soakaway, or a tank and an overflow to a near-by ditch or river. The sewage works must be large enough to treat all the sewage from the maximum number of persons who will be employed on site plus an addition for visitors.
If they are later found inadequate, it may prove difficult to get action if the contractor feels that, given a few more weeks, the number of men on the job will decline and the problem will solve itself.
The question of waste oil disposal from plant is a thorny one, and should be brought to the agent’s notice. Discharge of used lubricating oil or waste diesel oil to public sewers is usually forbidden; to discharge it through the site sewage works will probably ruin their proper functioning. The discharge of even small quantities to a watercourse will almost certainly be detected by the Environment Agency who will demand immediate rectification and the contractor may be liable to a penalty and payment of compensation if damage has resulted.
The waste oil should be led to a pit and disposed of by tanker as the local sewerage authority advises.
The resident engineer will need to know what part of the job the agent intends to tackle first, so that he can check any necessary setting out that must precede it. The agent will need to know what are the local benchmarks which have been used for the original survey of the area. If these are some distance away, they may both agree that their staff should jointly arrange for a convenient benchmark and base line to be set out near the job.
The next topic may be the programme as a whole, and this is the first of many discussions that will occur on that subject. Sometimes the agent wants more information from the resident engineer so that he can continue making his detailed plans, or he may have perceived some problem ahead which he thinks might be avoided if the engineer would sanction some action not exactly in line with contract requirements. The resident engineer had best give only a guarded opinion if this is his first acquaintance with such a proposition.
The resident engineer should be wary of discussing, too early, design matters or alteration of the contract requirements, because he may find out later that there are good reasons for the design requirements being as shown in the contract documents. Too early a desire to assent to some proposal by the contractor can lead to later trouble, when the assent has to be withdrawn as a result of increased understanding of the job.