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Choosing the right man for the job

Spotlight - Regulatory changes have made selecting the right contractor for your project more important than ever, says ASUC chairman David Gakhar.

Changes to the Construction (Design and Management) (CDM) regulations mean that choosing the right contractor is vitally important in ensuring projects are successfully managed and completed. The revised regulations remove the client's agent, making clients themselves accountable for health and safety standards on a site.

A CDM co-ordinator and principal contractor will in future be appointed on all notiable projects and there will be a written construction health and safety plan.

This means that a client must employ a company, whether as principal contractor or a subcontractor, that can competently address all health and safety issues and supply all relevant information. This legislation can be complex and requires a company with the resources to fully understand its implications and have an action plan in place.

Clients can ensure they get this by employing a company that is a member of a properly regulated scheme in which members are vetted to ensure they meet all the necessary criteria.

The association of Subsidence and Underpinning Contractors' ASUCplus is one such scheme.

It represents companies involved in subsidence repair techniques and engineered foundation solutions and all its members must meet stringent criteria, which differentiate them from more general contractors.

It has been widely publicised that safety inspectors will be targeting small and medium sized enterprises, a category into which the majority of subcontractors fall.

ASUCplus ontractors, because of the requirements of membership in the first place, have all made considerable investment in the competence and skills of their workforce and are able to fully meet the requirements of the new CDM Regulations.

But there is a downside to the new regulations. It is no longer possible for a contractor to be expected to start work immediately without being given time to properly plan and prepare for a project and they must be supplied with all the information they need to carry out the works safely.

If this involves getting specialist advice then that too must be factored into the timescale. All of which could lead to project delays.

The extra up-front work also puts additional pressure on the availability of specialist providers as the introduction of the new regulations coincides with a surge in subsidence-related claims following a sustained period of lower than expected rainfall.

In the light of these changes ASUCplus is widening the scope of its membership to ensure it becomes more inclusive while still upholding its core values of constant monitoring of member performance, particularly in health and safety, training and financial probity.

The association is looking to engage with contractors on a broader range of related specialist activities such as retrot basements, restricted access piling, underpinning for load increases and other specialist foundation systems pioneered through innovation from within the membership. It will do this through a series of road shows, exhibitions and seminars.

We have yet to see what further effect the introduction of the Home Information Packs will mean to the market.

Although not included in the pack, prospective sellers and purchasers are going to be more aware of the need to have full documentation and guarantees for all works carried out on a property.

Where underpinning works have taken place, the inclusion of an ASUCplus insurancebacked guarantee will help to maintain the value of a property and give peace of mind to a prospective purchaser as it is fully transferable throughout the 12 year period.

The ability to meet CDM requirements through a culture of upskilling, visible self-policing on technical quality, health and safety processes and nancial strength, means that ASUCplus members are well-placed to meet the requirements of the market both within and outside the insurance sector.

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