NEC3 Supervisors Add Value to Construction Projects

Nicholas Ganderton
It’s a busy time for capital projects in the public sector. Most clients are using NEC3, but how can they get the best results from this form of contract? A good NEC3 Supervisor makes a huge difference.

Since its first introduction in 1993, the NEC3 contract has become the UK public sector’s contract of choice. It’s used for nearly all projects procured by national and local government bodies. Most recently, the contract has been endorsed by the Government Construction Strategy 2016 – 2020, which embraces NEC3’s collaborative procurement techniques for optimising project delivery.

Client Organisations Under Pressure

Public sector clients are under pressure to deliver a wide variety of capital investment projects. The construction of new schools, leisure centres, office blocks and hospitals involve multi-disciplinary trades and services from across the construction industry. The management and successful delivery of these complex projects places considerable demands on the client’s organisation. However, clients don’t always have the resource, knowledge or experience to get the best results from their projects. Where NEC3 is part of the scheme, many clients are embracing the use of the NEC3 Supervisor to oversee their projects – this can make a significant difference to the project outcome.

Since its first introduction in 1993, the NEC3 contract has become the UK public sector’s contract of choice.

What Does An NEC3 Supervisor Do?

The NEC3 Supervisor ensures that the works are carried out in line with the quality defined by the Works Information. The Supervisor will have a regular presence on site, providing independent scrutiny of the works, ensuring the correct materials are used and to the correct standards. This includes the management of defects, witnessing of tests and regular site inspections. They are also well equipped to produce both weekly and monthly reports, which document the sequence of works and include supporting site photographs. An NEC3 Supervisor adds value to projects at all stages of the construction process: pre-contract stage, construction, and project handover.

Reluctant To Use An NEC3 Supervisor Pre-contract?

Some clients view engagement of an NEC3 Supervisor in the early stages of the project as an unnecessary cost. However, this early appointment brings significant cost savings for design teams, clients and contractors alike. A nd the cost during these early stages is minimal.

Benefits At Pre-contract Stage (RIBA Stage 2)

At this stage, the NEC3 Supervisor reviews the proposed Works Information, and provides guidance on the testing and inspections needed to comply with the Works Information, quality standards and applicable construction legislation. They also undertake an independent and holistic appraisal of the construction design intent. Here, the client benefits from the Supervisor’s experience of the construction process and technical expertise in collaboratively assisting the project design team to meet the client requirements.

Benefits On Site

On site, the NEC3 Supervisor makes a critical difference to the quality of workmanship. They proactively identify problems and prevent them from occurring, thereby minimising the risk to the client. The well-publicised case in Edinburgh is a cautionary tale. A number of schools had to be closed following structural concerns and the subsequent partial collapse of a primary school wall, highlighting the perils of poor workmanship and lack of attention to detail.

On site, the NEC3 Supervisor makes a critical difference to the quality of workmanship.

The initial investigations of the incident have identified a lack of independent scrutiny during the construction phases. Had an independent Clerk of Works/NEC3 Supervisor been appointed, this incorrect technical detail would have been identified on site and the incident therefore prevented. As we know, correcting defects post-completion is always more expensive to for the contractor and causes significant disruption to the client and end users.

The increased use of NEC3 Design & Build contracts, together with contractors’ ability to self-certify works, the use of multiple sub-contractors on-site, and the continual pressure to complete projects on-time, all too often leads to shortcomings in quality of workmanship. The NEC3 Supervisor can alleviate this, easily identifying defects and notifying the relevant parties via weekly/monthly reports.

Checking Defects

The issuing of the Defects Certificate is an important activity undertaken by the NEC3 Supervisor at the end of the defects correction period. This is critical, as it details any project defects and can only be issued once ALL notified defects have been corrected by the contractor. This ensures a building which is built in accordance with the Works Information, is fit for purpose and is defect-free.

The Client’s Independent Eyes and Ears

The NEC3 Supervisor adds value at all stages of the construction project, provides independent inspections on site, and ensures the works are constructed in accordance with the Works Information, using the correct materials and to the correct quality standards. You might call them the client’s independent eyes and ears throughout all stages of the construction project!

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