A formidable amount of ‘red tape’ in the form of official certificates and approvals as well as formal records and documentation apply from start to finish of a building project, says Uwe Putlitz, CEO of the Joint Building Contracts Committee (JBCC), who cautions that even a completed building needs written civic approval before a single tenant can move in.

Formidable red tape to comply with on building projectsJBCC is a non-profit company that represents building owners and developers, professional consultants, and general and specialist contractors who all provide input for the compilation of JBCC Agreements (contracts) that portray the consensus view of the committee’s constituent members.

“All standard form building/construction contracts (SFC) stipulate that the parties must comply with the law. In the contract data of the SFC, the law applicable to the project must be filled in: the law may apply to the country where either or both parties are based - which may not be the location of the project. All business entities must be registered to conduct trade where a project is located. Generally, this is an activity and cost outside the project execution.”

Putlitz says assuming that a building/construction project is carried out in the “conventional manner” (where the employer undertakes feasibilty studies including selection and/or purchase of a suitable site and/or existing building(s), obtains geotechnical information and applicable environmental approvals, and schedules project requirements), the employer then appoints professional consultants to prepare designs in accordance with the project brief.

“These consultants must apply for statutory approval from the local authority, including town planning and building plan approvals. Concurrently, the consultants must complete tender documentation as part of the procurement process. It is up to the consultants to guide the employer in the selection of a contractor with appropriate skills and experience at a just fee for the work. The selected contractor is appointed by the employer, using a recognised SFC to formalise the agreement.

“It is important that all design documentation and staturory compliance certificates are filed systematically and safely so that they can easily be retrieved and shared with members of the project team. Before the contractor can start work on site, the SFC and other documents comprising the agreement must be compiled, agreed and signed by both parties – including securities for performance, payment and advance payment, proof of appropriate insurance and a works programme.

“The employer must then also apply for and obtain a construction permit from the Department of Labour. The contractor in turn must submit his or her company’s Health and Safety plan for approval by the employer. Usually SFCs allow about a month to comply with these administrative issues before the contractor can be given possession of the site – and the construction period can commence.”

Putlitz says during the construction process, all members of the project team must comply with the adminstrative requirements of the SFC. This includes all notices, minutes of site meeting, contract instructions, etc, as well as compliance certificates as various trades are commissioned before such services or equipment can be put to use.

“Once the contractor’s specified obligations have been completed, the contract administrator must issue a certificate of practical completion. Thereafter the employer must apply for an occupation certificate from the local authority before the completed building may be occupied. Occupation without such certificate is illegal and any damage will not be covered by insurance.

“It is generally accepted that a project is not complete until all relevant paper work has been done. This applies to as-built documentation, as well as all product or service warranties and operational information to use and maintain a building competently over its lifespan. Such information must be safely stored so it can easily be retrieved and passed on to successive owners,” Putlitz adds.

• For more information and details of the JBCC training programme for 2018, phone 011 482 3102 or email info@jbcc.co.za.