Shortly after his arrival on site the resident engineer should see if the employer wishes to meet him and will set aside a morning or afternoon for going over the site and discussing the project with him. It frequently happens that the employer or his representative does wish to keep contact with the job, but any observations of consequence the employer makes which might require some action, should be passed through to the engineer so that he may give the necessary directions.
The employer may, for instance, be hoping that certain sections of the work can be completed and made use of by him before completion of the job as a whole; or he may want certain sections left for the time being because he may be having ideas of altering his requirements. Both these matters impinge directly upon the contractor’s programme and could change the cost of the job. Therefore, they have to be looked into by the engineer. Of course, if the employer is merely wanting to ‘sound out’ what is possible and how much it might cost, the resident engineer should give him a reasonable answer but make clear that the engineer must be involved before any decision is reached.
One other matter the employer may wish to raise is the traffic or noise created by the contractor about which the employer has already received complaints.
The resident engineer may have to consider what reasonable requests he could put to the contractor which would reduce these complaints.
As some structures begin to take shape an employer can be expected to take more interest, and he may start making requests for minor additions once he or his operational staff see what the structure looks like. The resident engineer and engineer must expect this and, if the contract has been wisely drawn up, it will allow for some flexibility of requirements in the later trades. Many finishes, and particularly colour schemes, are best left for the employer to choose. There is no point in an employer paying large sums for a project and not having some choice as to its final appearance.
The resident engineer will endeavour to meet reasonable requests by the employer; but if some apparently extravagant extra is asked for, he should be wary. He must remember that where the ‘employer’ is a public authority, the members of that authority might not necessarily agree with any proposed extra expense suggested by an officer acting on their behalf.
Where construction of the works is likely to be regarded as a nuisance by nearby residents, the employer may have already set up a liaison committee with representatives of the residents to smooth out possible difficulties. The resident engineer should find out what has been agreed so that he can direct the contractor accordingly. He may also need to attend meetings with local community representatives to report on progress and future activities and to try to find ways of minimizing any nuisance caused by construction of the works.