I get asked from time to time, mainly by potential customers, but also friends, family and colleagues, about our process. How do we get work? What do we do when we get it? And what happens after the project is fitted or delivered?
Because we are diverse enough to work in many different fields, we have to adapt our service to suit what each particular industry requires.
We recently finished on a project which due to Covid 19 (You may of heard that word flying around a bit in the news……) went on longer than originally planned. But this project is the perfect example of what we do within the field of new buildings and producing work for main contractors or building contractors. I hope this post sheds light on what actually goes into a project here at JFW Ltd.
‘The tender’ stage as it is usually called, is the part where the client, in this case; Deeley Construction a company we have enjoyed a healthy working relationship with for a number of years, sends over ‘tender drawings’, these drawings are usually a basic elevation drawing with a small specification giving just enough information to work out a quotation to submit to hopefully win the contract. For this particular project we were sent the following drawing:
This drawing shows plans and elevations of a lobby area to a new sheltered accommodation building in the centre of Coventry. The items that are relevant to us are highlighted with a red cloud-like bubble. In this case we were asked to price to supply and install two ceiling features with decorative baffles, wall paneling to match and a fixed sofa.
From this drawing we have to develop a solution to carry out the task set, research materials required and put a cost to them and then…… This is the tricky part…… Estimate how long it will take to do everything involved and put a cost to it, now between you and me this sometimes goes right, and sometimes goes horribly wrong!!! Because of the nature of our work, the projects we do vary so much that sometimes there is no way of knowing just how long it will take, so trying to be competitive with price whilst planning for the worst and ensuring you are covered with everything leads you down a very tight path……
So. After the price is worked out, a written detailed quote is scribbled out and handed to Paula (The Accounts Manager and Admin Manager here at JFW, a vital cog in the machine) , who then does her best to decipher my fine handwriting………. Ok…… My mostly unreadable group of weird symbols and squiggles, scrawled out at pace onto a piece of paper, which is then typed up into a document which is then sent to the client for them to make a decision.
Fortunately for us we were successful with our quotation. Which means a site meeting to sit down with the Quantity Surveyor, the Contracts Manager and the Site Manager. Collectively the people are responsible for this particular project. In this meeting everything from prices to the use of toilet facilities is agreed and both parties involved sign a contract. We then usually take a tour of site to see where the item we are going to produce will go. More often than not there really is nothing to see, but it does give you an idea of access and also helps paint a mental picture of what it is actually going to be like. Unfortunately I don’t have any photographs to show you exactly what this one was like, but it was a shell of a building with exposed block walls and part of an alcove where a sofa was going to be. I hope that paints a bit of a picture of what we have to work from, if not I am sure you will be able to get an idea from future posts. So from there we agree dates to get firm site sizes and then a date for installation and all parties involved do their best to stay true to those dates.
The way most projects seem to go these days is a design and build route, which basically means a principal designer or architect sets out a desired goal and it is then the job of the builder, fabricator, manufacturer and supplier to do their best with the budget given to them and the materials available to deliver as closely as possible to the desired goal.
So, with the tender drawing shown above in our possession we set about producing our own drawings. Sometimes you get more detailed drawings but this is rare. The architect is a very busy person who has the whole building to consider so doesn’t really have time to produce more detailed drawings, so we shan’t hold it against them. Also it gives us the perfect opportunity to design it how we want to make it. Our way. What we believe to be the best way!!
This particular project required some liaison with other trades on site, such as electricians, mechanical service engineers, partition and ceiling contractors and also plasterers. It made sense that we were all singing from the same hymn sheet. So the Contracts Manager, a guy we have worked with on a few projects now, who knew our methods and what we were about, thought it would be best for us to do all the setting out and produce drawings for the other contractors to work to.
Usually the specification with tell you what materials and fittings are to be used, these are more often than not specified by the designer or architect who has little knowledge of the cost. Which is perfectly understandable as they have no real way of knowing as they do not have access to trade accounts or product catalogues. Usually a sales rep will pitch their product to be used in an upcoming project. As nice as some of these products are they can potentially push a relatively affordable job over the edge in to downright extortion…… For example, a well known hardware company sells numerous bar handles. Most of the time the most expensive handle is specified for the project. At £83.00 +VAT per handle this really does test the budget, but it is our job to source alternatives, the same well know hardware company sell an alternative for £5.30 +VAT, the difference? One is aluminium, one is stainless steel, oh and £77.70 +VAT and whether the job goes ahead or not…..
Luckily for us with this project we had carte blanche to propose materials, which included a faux leather, a bronze effect laminate and an acoustic baffle, all of which were researched and proposed with data sheets and samples. All were given the OK to be used.