An office manager is needed on all but the smallest sites. He deals with getting all the miscellaneous requirements for the job, that is, the ‘consumables’ such as picks and shovels, protective clothing, small tools, minor repairs, fuel deliveries, electricity supplies and telephone, etc. He will be in control of storekeepers, messengers, teaboys, staff car drivers and night watchmen. On small projects he may order materials for the construction, as instructed by the agent, so will have to deal with the invoices for such materials, checking invoices against materials delivered, signing and sending them to head office for payment. On larger sites he will have an ordering clerk to do this for him.
A site accountant, often assisted by a pay clerk, handles all cash transactions on site and the local bank account. It is essential to employ experienced persons on this type of work. Even taking the sealed pay packets around to the workers is best done by an experienced pay clerk who knows what care is needed to avoid the upset which occurs if a pay packet ‘goes missing’.
For the supply of materials in regular use, such as concrete aggregates, ready-mix concrete, cement, bricks, timber, etc. the agent will seek out local suppliers, get quotations from them and pass them to the head office buyer with recommendations. The head office buyer may then set up standard agreements with the local suppliers recommended by the agent, or he may discuss with the agent, use of some alternative supplier. Actual requisitions for delivery can then be placed by the agent direct with the supplier, with copies sent to head office. A materials clerk on site then checks the deliveries against the supplier’s invoices and against the original order, certifies the invoice and sends it to head office for payment. This system can only work, of course, if both head office and the site are in the same country. Overseas, the agent has to carry out all the work involved, using sub-agents and accountants or other supporting staff to carry out the work for him.
A quantity surveyor (QS) (or surveyors) may be employed on site to draw up monthly applications for payments due to the contractor, according to the measurement of work done as required under an Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) bill-of-quantities contract. Alternatively these QSs – as they are widely called – may be based in head office visiting site monthly. To them the subagents or section engineers submit their monthly measurements and the QSs then make up the monthly statement, including any claims the contractor makes for additional payment for extra work done, delays or difficulties encountered which the contractor considers should be met. However, on small jobs quantity surveyors are not always employed because civil engineering quantities differ from building quantities (see Sections 15.4–15.7), so the small contractor may use his engineer for this task or do it himself.