Cover Image
close this bookThe Community Builders: A Practical Guide where People Matter (GTZ, 1989)
close this folderSection C
View the documentC1: Construction Information
View the documentC3: Pricing the Work

C3: Pricing the Work

Finding a builder

and setting out the basis for pricing the work, takes time and trouble as well as skill and experience. Here we follow the steps, like completing a jigsaw, so that everything fits and no part is left out. If we succeed, there should be no disputes that later discrupt the job, cause delay, and increase the cost.

We must now
The Building Committee first approve the basis for pricing the work. Then, organizing the job ourselves , we spell out the organization, materials and labour, etc., and prepare the self-build budget and, using a contractor, we prepare a tender list and specify the conditions for pricing. The Building Committee examine the prices and make a recommendation to the Executive.

The Building Committee discuss the pricing

Our committee last met formally when recommending approval of the detail proposals to the Executive (Section B5). Having completed everything concerning the construction of the building, we must now prepare the documents for pricing the work. This is important for, if we are organizing the work ourselves, we must know that we can complete the job with the money in hand, or, if we employ a contractor, we must make clear the contractual requirements in pricing the work.
Before pricing the work the Building Committee must meet to consider:
1. Look over the construction information (section C1), noting any changes;
2. Check through the preparation and organization for the work (section C2) and approve;
3. Approve the maintenance period proposals (section C2);
4. Approve the basis for pricing the work (section C3),
-organizing the job ourselves ,
- conditions of tender using a contractor and approve tender list ,
- self-build techniques,
5. Confirm that the money is to hand to pay for the work.
The building agreement. In organizing the job ourselves we naturally expect to have everyone's co-operation in achieving success. We seek to share the work round and assist one another for our common good. However, when working with a builder having a 'contract', we assume we can leave everything to him. Whatever goes wrong he must put right. Such an approach works against community building.
Building is always a complex process. It is not made any easier by adopting a community building approach. Instead of thinking in terms of the conventional building 'contract' that reinforces the professional boundaries of client, architects and builder, let us refer to the 'building agreement', placing emphasis on mutual support and co-operation, rather as partners do in managing a business. It is only then that community building becomes a reality.

Our Story - A building partnership

For once Ralihaha is working on his own. There has been a lot of discussion about how the job will be organized, but now he has to make this into a proposal that can be approved by the Building Committee. It must be brief and to the point.
It is important that everyone has a clear understanding about who does what in support of the job. He and Fr Pierre must share the work between them, Fr Pierre buying the materials and Ralihaha supervising the work. However, there are many other things that have to be done. Who will recruit the extra labour that is sure to be required? Organize the temporary removal of the clinic? Report on the expenditure? And much more. Perhaps at this stage, he thinks, it would be a good idea to have a meeting with Fr Pierre, his foreman (with whom he has not yet really discussed the job), and Malichelete the bookkeeper, for, between them, everything has to be dealt with. Building is always a complex task and may seem daunting at this stage, but Ralihaha knows that the more he can get agreed beforehand the smoother the job will run when work starts.
So the four of them get together to discuss the running and organization of the job. Ralejoe is the Mission foreman, his father built all the original buildings with Fr Pierre. Ralejoe tells Ralihaha he is pleased to be working on the clinic, following in his father's footsteps. This will be a challenge for him and his men.

Malichelete is silent. "I am asking Ralejoe to work full time on the clinic renovation," says Fr Pierre, "and I will take over some of his supervision for the duration of the work." "What men and skills do you have available?" asks Ralihaha. "Well I am a carpenter," replies Ralejoe. "We have two bricklayers, a plumber, father here does the electrical, and there are some labourers. They have all been with the Mission a long time and can turn their hand to almost anything."
"Let me explain the drawings," and Ralihaha gets them out. "You see the squares," he says, "each one represents 250mm." They look through everything, ending with the Building Work Description. "I now have to measure the material quantities for Father to buy them. Our objective, at the moment, is to price the work based on the way in which we will do it. When that is approved by our Building Committee and the Mission Board, we can start work."

Organizing the job ourselves

In deciding to organize the job ourselves we began by considering how we would build (section B5), discussing what was involved in obtaining the materials and recruiting the labour and how we could manage the work . We also agreed upon the architect's supervision and how he might assist the builder. In section C2 we then decided on the conditions to govern the preparation and organization of the work on the site. We now have to set out briefly but clearly just how we will carry out the work and who we will need to assist us.
An outline proposal for this should be drafted by the Building Committee, for it requires everyone's co-operative effort. The proposal should be made in writing so that it can be read by everyone, and approved by the Executive. In this way they may all know how we intend to proceed. Here are some headings that will prompt our discussion:
A. Co-operation. There are three sides to this that must work to form a partnership:
1. the architect providing supervision;
2. the building organizer concerned with running the site;
3. office back-up and accounting.
How we divide out the work in practice will depend on who is available, their skills and experience.
B. Supervision. Generally, the more supervision the work is given the better the job will be. If the Community Builder is em" ployed by the project full time, he may also be able to assist in running the site. However, if he is based elsewhere he may be able to do no more than organize the materials. Certainly, without his presence, there is a far greater burden of responsibility placed on the builder and project.
C. Organization. The building organizer must have a basic grasp of all the trade skills, be able to instruct the men, obtain materials, keep records, and so on. It is a job for a practical person. He will need a working foreman as his right-hand man. The builder achieves his best results when working with the close support and assistance of the Community Builder.
D. Back-up. Office back-up is essential, to hire the men, calculate and pay their wages, keep the petty cash, pay the bills, do the bookkeeping, make the budget reports, and so on. Without thus the Community Builder and building organizer cannot be as effective. Accounting advice will continue to be required when there is a tangle, and in updating the budget. A building surveyor or architect experienced in community building should be able to give some assistance.
E. The builder. Do we know of a suitable builder, or is there someone already working in our project who can be released from their normal duties for the duration of the building work? If not, ask round, make enquiries, obtain cross references, meet the person, go and see their work. It's far too important to be left to chance.
F. Training. Perhaps we could provide opportunity for work experience by students of the technical school, or for further training for men in our maintenance team?
G. Rates of pay. Make enquiries about the market rates of pay for the organizer, tradesmen, trainees, labourers, etc. We need these to be able to balance the size of our labour force with the budget. A method for calculating this.

Our Story -Ralihaha measures the materials

So their meeting continues. They talk about how Malichelete will keep the books, for, if the funding organization will accept a photocopy of these, it will save a lot of work. They discuss the removal of the clinic into the church hall, and where to store the building materials.
Now Ralihaha must measure the material quantities. He locks himself away where he cannot be disturbed. It's always a difficult task, and even more so for renovation and alteration. They need this so that Fr Pierre can price every item that is required. He will do this by going into town and making many enquiries; for the materials must come from many different suppliers. The total cost can then be calculated and a material budget established. As it is based on the A to Z of construction headings, not only does it indicate what is required for each stage of the Job, but also they will be able to check the sub-totals with the cash book by making a reconciliation (a bit like doing a bank reconciliation of the account).
Cement had long presented Ralihaha with a problem. There was never enough and it was expensive. However, one day he had observed that a floor slab was being laid with one side much thicker than the other and, when he checked, he found that this accounted for a lot of extra material. People had said the men were stealing the cement, but here was evidence of wastage. It was then that he came across the guide on the next page which was proving remarkably accurate.
Now that the foreman could check how many bags he was expected to use in the material budget, and by proper preparation of the base, there was no longer a problem.



The Material Budget

If we are organizing the building work ourselves or employing a labour-only contractor, we must obtain all the materials. Contractors conventionally price the job from a 'Bill of Quantities' prepared by a surveyor, and later measure their own material quantities. This, therefore, is of little or no practical use to us since it is of no help on the site in knowing what is required, when, in what quantity, or how it relates to our budget. Hence we must make our own material budget, based on the A to Z construction headings which relate to the progress of the work.
Our measurement of the material quantities is based on the construction drawings, the building work description , and site measurements if the building is existing. The more we can measure at this stage the more accurate will be our budget, the more we guess the more problems we leave over for the site, and delivery will be delayed. Over-measurement as a safeguard is wasteful, under-measurement results in material shortages which, if our site is a long way from the supply, will create further delay.
A typical page from the material budget in our story is illustrated opposite. Some materials are difficult to measure. Not only may they be obscure on the drawing, but their quantities are too 'frequently guessed on the site. Cement, paint and plaster are obvious examples. Guides to cement are hard to come by, the one reproduced on the next page has proved excellent in practice. With paint most manufacturers provide excellent guide's to coverage, but for plaster there is little alternative but to guess and hope for the best. By our stating the quantity for each job, the man on the site knows how much he is expected to use. Experience has
shown that, without this, one builder can use twice as much as another for the same job.
Plumbing and drainage may at first seem rather daunting items to measure. Yet, if we sit down with the plumber and make a sketch of the pipework we can identify every fitting that is required.. We then know precisely what to buy and the plumber does the job knowing just what he has to do. Once he gets the hang of this, he can do it himself and present us with his sketch. The same can be done with the electrician to identify the conduits and circuits. There then exists a valuable record for future maintenance.
Each item is a matter of application. Taken one at a time, in the order of the work as set out in the A to Z construction headings, it is not as formidable a task as it may seem. Of course, it is better done with experience and we might therefore wish to seek some guidance or ask someone to check it for us.
Next, we have to price the list we have made. Building materials are obtained from a wide variety of sources and so no one supplier can price the whole list for us. If we are working over a number of jobs we should keep an index of costs and suppliers. Pricing is not then a problem. To this price list we should add a percentage to cover error, waste, breakage, etc., the size of which will depend on the complexity of measuring the materials.
Using the materiel' budges, the materials are delivered to the site in the correct order and we can anticipate what is needed. The cover of the material budget gives the A to Z headings, grouped to each stage of the work , thus making it possible to check expenditure as the job proceeds (section D2).
Concrete materials (by volume)


Reproduced from 'The Weekend Builder'. Editor, Julian Worthington (by courtesy of Orbis Publishing, London).

The self-build budget (Budget C)

The budget we now make is the equivalent of the contractor's tender price. It's headings must relate to the work as we will actually carry it out, for it provides the basis on which we shall check expenditure as the work proceeds.
Unlike a contractor, whose profit provides a contingency from which to complete the work, we aim to do the job for precisely the money available, no less, certainly no more. We should therefore anticipate what action we will take if our budget became overspent and advise the Building Committee accordingly by providing a 'Risk Contingency' in the self-build budget . If unspent, this reduces the project contribution or can be used for additional work. The alternative to providing for this is the risk of not completing the building, having to draw on the capital reserves of the project, seek further funding, or omit work towards the end of the job.
Labour and materials. First we must budget the materials (see previous page), for on this we can base a guide to the labour costs. Using factory produced materials, the labour, as a percentage of the materials, can vary from 35% in straightforward repetitive work, to 60% or more for complex renovation of existing buildings. This we compare with a calculation of how many men for how long. Often there is a surprisingly large discrepancy between the two, usually because we have grossly underestimated the labour force required. The real cost may lie, therefore, somewhere between the two and thus we begin to establish the basis for a wage structure.
Inevitably we will need more men than we anticipated, and we must therefore also allow a contingency for some extra labour. Irrespective of the stage of the job, our team may typically consist of a working foreman, so many tradesmen, semi-skilled men and labourers. We leave the building organizer out of this calculation, as that is paid from site supervision and organization (see next page). Compute this labour force as a day rate and then multiply that by the expected duration of the job which we anticipated in making the programme in section B5. It may become clear from this that we need to employ more men, or allow longer for the work, but whatever, do not be tempted fo reduce the labour budget. We might also consider this opportunity to provide work experience for young men (and women) who are keen to learn, and can prove excellent value.
Set out the labour calculation as a record that we can refer back to in checking actual expenditure .
Provisional sums. These cover any item not included in the labour and materials, such as the hire of equipment, accommodation and travel for the men, water and electricity for the work, hired transport, insurances, etc.
Contingencies. In organizing the job ourselves this has to cover not only the usual unforseen problems of deeper foundations, delays due to exceptional weather, construction problems, and so on, but also the builder's loss of materials, delays due to late delivery, breakages, etc. Therefore this figure has to be higher than if we were working with a contractor, being between 15% and 25%, depending on the complexity of the work.


1. If you depart from the drawings, you also change the quantities.
2. Check for yourself that every item necessary to complete the work is included.
3. If an item does not include delivery allow for this in item C.
4. Add tax to the total of each section.
5. Before ordering you must check site measurements wherever possible.
6. Record actual spending in the last column. This will alert you to savings or overspending.
Material budget

Continuing our self-build budget

Site supervision and organization. Herein lies the secret of a successful job; spending time and effort on the site with the men, rather than directing the work from an office. This is far too often underestimated and we must ensure we do not make this mistake. How we budget this will depend on who we have available, either an architect, or a builder, or both. Whichever, the cost may not be easy to estimate.
There are three basic ways to estimate the cost of the architect's supervision of the work:
1. On completion of the builder's information (sections C1 and C2), the architect's work can be assumed to be about half done. The cost so far, therefore, gives a guide of what is to come. We must add between a half and a whole of the cost of the supervision to cover the builder's organization, whether by the architect or someone else. We then have a budget for the supervision and organization of the work;
2. Estimate how many days per week (or month) we want the architect to visit the work and is required for the organization;
3. If the salaries are made up from a number of jobs, apportion these between them and see how this looks in terms of our job.
The budget will of course be further influenced by whether the Community Builder is resident on the job, or has to travel, and how he gets there.
Administration costs. This provides, for all the expenses of running and organizing the job, post; telephone, bookeeping, bank charges, paid holidays' sick leave, insurance, etc., as well as the architect's use of a vehicle, photocopies, etc.' not normally part of the professional fee.
Here, too, you might also consider some pro" vision for training, of providing subsidized hand tools, and so on. In this way the men may be drawn into the spirit of the work, realizing that there is more in the job for them than a wage packet.
Administration costs are based on the whole of the job and will vary with what is included. This can vary between 15% and 25%.
Professional fees. Now that we have decided just how the Community Builder is to be involved in running the site, we should check the fee calculation/time basis on which he will be employed. Here is a check list of the additional services he may be providing:
materials -measuring quantities, ordering, arranging importation, organizing delivery;
labour - hire, organize, calculate wages, instruct;
cost control -monthly reports of expenditure compared to budget, check invoices.



Pricing our self-build budget (Budget C)

On the opposite page is the self-build budget prepared for the clinic in our story. Each item has been carefully calculated and a framework established for organizing the job and measuring its progress. This total we now check back with the budget we prepared in section B5. These budget headings are carried forward in the cashbook to the financial report in section D2 .
If this self-build budget is over our cost limit, we must first understand why this is so. Has the building changed significantly, is it in the pricing, or was the budget reduced perhaps to fit within the funds available for the job? On the right hand side of the budget sheet is a spare column. This we use to record the reductions we make, and to the budget we
attach a break-down showing how each saving is achieved. Thus people can later be reminded what was left out.
If, on the other hand, our new budget is lower than the original costing, then we should examine our price to see where it may be underestimated.
It is no good being cheaper than a contractor unless you can prove it. So, at the bottom of the budget opposite, we compare our price with that of using a contractor which we previously estimated (section A4). This, of course, is updated to take into account any changes in the building. The difference is the value of the self-help which we and the community are contributing to the job.

FIGURE Completing the self-build budget.

Our Story - Work at Mission Clinic can start!

We have two new members of our Building Committee attending their first meeting. They are Ralejoe the foreman at the Mission, and Alice one of the village health workers. They are naturally rather quiet at first and, being newcomers, wait to see what this is all about.
Prior to the meeting Dr John has been talking to Fr Pierre from whom he learned of the apparently high cost of the materials. This seemed to him disproportionate to the budget, and without referring to Ralihaha he had been greatly troubled that the job would prove to be far too expensive. Why all this bother, he asked himself, it would be much easier to get a local builder to relieve us of all this. So Dr John arrives at the meeting looking rather worried. Ralihaha can see that he will have to proceed by carefully explaining the self-build budget for him.
The Committee sit down to begin their discussion of the self-build budget that we see on page 128. Ralihaha explains it item by item. Dr John asks Ralejoe what he thinks, but he only comments that it should be OK.
The material budget is there for everyone to see, clearly itemized. The labour, however, is something of a guess. "How did you calculate this figure?" asks Dr John. "Well, I did it two ways," responds Ralihaha. "First I took it as a percentage of the materials, somewhat higher than for new work to allow for the renovation and alterations. Then I went to Fr Pierre and we sat down with Ralejoe. I asked them how many men they
thought they would need to employ. That estimate proved to be obviously too low. It is often difficult to believe one will need so many men. We mapped out a labour force for the job that started with only a few skilled men, but which built-up as it progressed. We then allowed a fair contingency, should there be need to make-up on the production.""I see," says Dr John, impressed that it had been so thoroughly worked out.
The removal cost, they note, is included in the detail budget which they approved in section B5 , and so does not appear in the self-build budget.
The item for risk of over expenditure causes them some concern. "Why this?" asks Dr John. "Well," replies Ralihaha, "we have calculated we can complete the work for 8,337 Maloti. However, unlike a contractor, we do not have any profit or working capital on which to fall back if there is a problem in completing the job. For example, this might happen if there is heavy rain and we cannot get the materials delivered in time and the men are not kept occupied. It could occur for various reasons, many quite beyond our control. It is not like the contingency that is within the budget, but rather a reminder for the Mission Board that they must bear in mind that overspending is always a possibility in completing the building. It is something that we would hope to foresee and decide on before it occurred."
So it is that, after much debate, they pass a resolution saying that, having considered the self-build budget in some detail, they request the Mission Board for authority to proceed with the work.

The Building Committee recommend acceptance

Finally the Building Committee must consider the builder's price and recommend acceptance. It is for the Executive to establish who is authorized to sign the contract or take the decision to proceed.
Our committee meet to discuss the self-build budget. They hear the architect's report, noting the element of risk . They then recommend acceptance of the budget to the Executive and seek authority to proceed with the work.

Check box

Has our committee thoroughly examined what is involved?
Just how will the materials be obtained?
Where is the skilled labour coming from?
Who will be in charge of the site?
How does the builder's price relate to Budget B?
Has our committee made a clear recommendation to the Executive?
Have we seen and read ourselves the Executive minute approving the work?
What should we be doing next?


If for some reason of your own, at any stage
of the job you decide to dispense with the
service of your Community Builder, you
a) discuss the matter with him and reach
b) pay in full what you owe him.

Until you have done these, you may not make use of what he has done or helped to prepare. This situation may seem improbable, but it does, and can happen. For example, when there is a new person in charge of the project who has yet to learn of the benefits to be gained from community building.

Our Story - Looking for local builders

Fr Pierre and Ralihaha met Mr Pitso, the boss of Mountain Contractors, a while ago . Now that they have sorted out the job and know just what they want the contractor to do, they must seek other contractors and make up a tender list.
Meanwhile, Ralihaha receives unexpectedly an offer from a builder unknown to him. It simply says:
'Quotation' -
Proposed work at Mission Clinic
M. 6,750.
signed 'J. Malebone'

"Oh dear," sighs Ralihaha, "where did this come from? It gives no indication of what it includes, or does not include for that matter." When Ralihaha sees Fr Pierre, he asks if he knows anything about it. "I've been talking to various builders," he says, "but none was to give a price. Let me see the name. No, I don't know that one." (Later it turns out that Dr John was talking to this builder and sent him along to the clinic, where he met Nurse Lerato. Nobody knew what his work was like.)
Fr Pierre has a number of names of builders that Ralihaha can make enquiries about. "I don't know them," he says, "except as members of my congregation. I can show you where they live." It turns out, however, that these local people are village builders' working in rough stone with soil bedding. "One or two of them are doing some quite neat work," comments Ralihaha, "but do not really have the right kind of experience for our job." One Ralihaha recognizes, for he was building a new toilet at one of the other clinics belonging to Khotso Hospital.


Invitation to tender

It is part of the Community Builder's job to help you select contractors with care. Our aim is to draw up a list of those we can recommend to the Building Committee as suitable and willing to undertake the work. Do not invite anyone to price the job whom you would not want to work with, for tendering is costly and time consuming for the contractor. We can then invite those on the list to submit their competitive prices.
As an alternative you may prefer to negotiate a price with an experienced contractor whom we know and can trust. Such people are rare, especially in the Third World and may be worth hanging on to. We must, however, have some means of knowing if their price is a fair one, and here we refer back to the square metre prices we obtained in section A4.
Here are some points to guide our enquiries:
1. Seek builders by reputation. Look round and see who is building locally. Ask people who have had work done if they are satisfied.
2. Meet the person in charge of the contractor's organization and ask if they are interested in our job. Give them a few brief details about the type of work, an idea of the value, when it must be done, and so on. It may be that our project is so remote that no one will be interested or consider it worth while.
3. Ask where we can see their work. Inspect if for ourselves. Speak to the owner or the people in charge. Are they satisfied? How does it compare in size, complexity and quality with what we need? Would we be satisfied?
4. Discuss with the contractor the conditions of tender that we have in mind; phasing, completion date, retention monies, community involvement, etc. He may have some useful comments that could help us and reduce the cost.
5. The tender list should then be discussed by the Building Committee and no more than three or four names selected. This list, of course, is confidential so that the contractors remain competitive.
It is important that in competitive tendering everyone competes on identical terms, otherwise comparison may not be possible and we will not know which is the best offer. Worse still, we may not be sure precisely what one includes and another has left out.


Our Story - Talking to builders

Someone tells Ralihaha that a well known contractor in town might be willing to do the job, so he goes to see him. "Yes," the man says, "we could do it alright, but I fear it would be expensive. Why don't you try one of these local builders, they don't have the overheads we have and are better suited to working in the rural areas. Try Mr Taole."
Mr Taole turns out to be well established. "Yes I'll price your job," he says. "Send me the drawings and whatever you have. I only contract to supply all the labour, can you provide the materials?" he asks. "Yes," replies Ralihaha, "how do you price the labour?" "Oh no problem," responds Mr Taole. But Ralihaha guesses that what that means is that he employs a surveyor to work out his price for him. It may even be someone he knows, doing the work in their own time. That might be a better way to find some suitable local builders. "I would like you to visit the site before pricing the job," says Ralihaha. "You should ask for Nurse Lerato when you get there, or Fr Pierre. May I see some of your work?" "Yes," says Mr Taole, "I am working just round the corner from here. Come and have a look." Ralihaha is interested to find that the work is of a similar kind to that at the clinic. The site is reasonably tidy and shows some method in its organization. Ralihaha always likes to see a tidy site, it reflects on the approach to the work he says.
Ralihaha meets his surveyor friend to ask his advice in finding suitable builders. "Yes," he says, "it's a bit of guess
work sometimes, but I know the commercial rates for the full job, and so I can't be far out. They keep coming back to me for more pricing, so it must be working." "What conditions are attached to the jobs?" asks Ralihaha. "Well," replies his surveyor friend! "it has always been private work, extending people's houses and that sort of thing. But I notice a tendency now for government agencies to offer labour-only contracts. It must be working out cheaper, and perhaps, like you, full contractors are not really interested in this kind of job. The government, I see, is attaching the usual clause of 5% retention, reduced to 21/2% on completion. I think their other clauses are a bit inappropriate. Someone like you should be assisting them."


Drafting the conditions of tender

Financial arrangements are not covered by the A to Z of construction headings, for they do not directly concern the running of the site. They are therefore included in the Form of Tender and will be considered by the Building Committee.
Retention money and maintenance. It is usual to make a deduction from all payments to the contractor. Its purpose is to ensure that we have some financial hold over the contractor in the event of poor progress, failure to complete the work, unsatisfactory work or whatever. Likewise, we should never pay in advance for the work, for this could result in an unscrupulous contractor disappearing with the money. It does happen!
If we state too much retention, small local contractors may be excluded because the burden will leave them with insufficient working capital to run the job. Being prompt with our payments will help of course, and we should bear in mind that returning to do maintenance: is costly, especially if our project is remote. So we must consider carefully how best to safeguard ourselves and yet at the same time help the contractor. There may be more we can do to help ourselves, reduce the cost, and provide opportunity for local builders. Here are some suggestions:
1. Normally 5% retention is withheld from all payments. Half is released on completion of the work, and the balance when the maintenance work is done. We can assist by stating a limit to the retention, and by reducing the maintenance period.
2. Rather than calling the contractor back everytime a door is sticking, we could attend to this ourselves, making the contractor responsible for a single visit at the end of the maintenance period.
3. Omit the maintenance period and release the retention money one month after completion. Thus we have time to check that everything is satisfactory.
4. Budget a contingency sum to cover maintenance work and ask the contractor to state his cost per visit. This would be used to pay whoever does the work, the contractor, ourselves, or a local man. Where we supply the materials and employ a labour only contractor, this could be especially relevant.
Contingencies. This is money set aside in the contract for unforeseen problems, for example, the foundations might have to be a little deeper, the contractor might be delayed by exceptionally wet weather, or a construction detail may have to be modified. In renovation work it must be higher than new because there may be hidden defects that only become apparent on stripping out the building. It is usually given as a percentage of the tender price, between 5% and 15%. It does not cover any extra work that we may request.
Provisional sums. These cover items of work that the contractor must provide but which we cannot yet fully describe. For example, there may be internal fittings about which we are still making enquiries, or items of supply on which we have not yet got prices but which the contractor will have to install. There could also be a sum to cover a structural defect, the repair of which cannot be decided until the building is stripped out. Provisional sums should, however, be kept to the minimum.
Bonus/penalty. We should encourage rather than punish. Building is always complex, never black and white, fault is always shades of grey. This is further complicated by there being community involvement and the relative inexperience of the local contractor we may be working with. Therefore bonus and penalty is not recommended.

Our Story - Ralihaha invites the builders to submit prices

Four contractors are invited to tender, only one wanted to pace the whole job, the other three are only offering to provide the labour. All are acceptable as builders, so that whoever gives the lowest pace can be contracted. The pace for the whole job may be compared with the others by checking them with our budget. So Ralihaha writes the following letter to ensure that they all price on exactly the same basis.


FIGURE To - Mr Pitso,

Mountain Contractors.
Invitation to tender for renovation and alterations at Mission Clinic.
Following our recent meeting I enclose the tender documents on which to base your pace for providing all labour. The materials will be supplied by the Mission, and I will be supervising the work.
You are to visit the site before pricing the work, so as to understand the full extent of the work. You are welcome there Mondays to Saturdays, please ask for Nurse Lerato or Fr Pierre who will show you round.
You are to submit your price on the attached Form of Tender, returning it to me not later than 13th August. Meantime I shall be pleased to answer any questions you may have.
Yours faithfully, Ralihaha

Enclosures: drawings -listed Building Work Description Form of Tender

Form of Tender

This ensures that everyone prices on the same basis and that the information on which it is based is recorded. Many smaller builders, who have practical skills, lack organizational expertise, and so it is essential to have their tender price confirmed. The builder also then has a copy of what is included in his price.
The list that follows covers everything concerning building contractors who undertake the full job, providing labour and materials. It also serves, however, as a check list for builders providing only the labour.
1. Name of job, project and place;
2. Retention sum and interim payments;
3. Maintenance provision;
4. Provisional sums;
5. Contingencies;
6. List of drawings and information;
7. Programme, start and finish, etc.
Close with a statement to the effect that:
I/we have inspected the site and allowed in our price for the conditions there, including provision for accommodation and transport for the workmen. I/we undertake to provide everything necessary and carry out the whole of the works on the drawings, Building Work Description and this Form of Tender,
for the sum of. signed and dated.
Or for a labour contractor:
I/we have inspected the site and have allowed in our price for the conditions there, including provision for all accommodation and transport for the workmen. I/we undertake to provide all labour, skilled, semi-skilled and manual labour necessary to carry out the work shown on the drawings, Building Work Description and conditions of this Form of Tender,
for the sum of ............................... signed and dated.

On receipt of tenders

If all goes well, the price will be within our budget. If not, don't take fright too quickly. Wait until our Community Builder has examined it and maybe met the builder to talk it over.
Only then, if the price is still too high, there are a number of alternatives open to us. Maybe the budget can be manoeuvered around a bit; omissions can be made after finding out where the major expenses lie; is there some of the work we can do ourselves; is there someone else who could tender more cheaply; or is there some item that can be left out until near the end of the job and built if there are unspent contingencies or further funding?

Our Story - The contractor's tender price is accepted

On the day the tenders were due to be returned, Dr John heard from one of the contractors their price for the work. It was too much and, without checking with Ralihaha, he had gone to bed and worried all night. So next day when they met, it did not help to be told, oh yes it was wrong! The builder, he found, had not visited the site as required. So instead of basing his price on a building made of concrete blocks, he had assumed it was of mud and stone. This, Ralihaha told him, made quite a difference. So, as the other three contractors were asking for extra time, Ralihaha had agreed to give them until Friday. Dr John looked quite needlessly tired!
Before the Building Committee could meet to recommend to the Mission Board which tender to accept, Ralihaha had to make a careful comparison of the prices that had been submitted. The contractor providing labour and materials gave a price that worked out at M. 95 per square metre, which was more than the building surveyor's original estimate. Using our budget for comparison, the three other contractors providing only the labour, with us providing the materials, worked out at M.85, 83, and 77 per square metre. That of Mr Pitso from Mountain Contractors, is the lowest.
On the day set for the meeting of the Building Committee, the members expect to hear Ralihaha's report on the tenders. They listen carefully to what he has to say. The lowest, from Mountain Contractors, is within their budget and
can therefore be accepted. They have all seen Mr Pitso's work at the local school and know that he has got on well. They decide to accept his price.
Mr Pitso, Ralihaha reports, wants to start work immediately while he is still working at the village school. This, of course' will mean that Fr Pierre must order the materials straight away. So a special meeting of the Mission Board is called to approve the acceptance of the tender and authorize Fr Pierre to sign the contract on their behalf and obtain the materials. Ralihaha drafts the letter of acceptance which Fr Pierre will sign. Only then can work start on the clinic.
Now everyone begins to worry about when and how soon can they move the clinic into the church hall while the work is done.


The Building Committee recommend acceptance

Finally the Building Committee must consider the builder's price and recommend acceptance. It is for the Executive to establish who is authorized to sign the contract or take the decision to proceed. Our committee meets to consider the tenders and hear the architect's report, check with the budget, and recommend to the Executive that a price is accepted.
Architect drafts letter of acceptance. This must inform the builder that all correspondence is to be addressed to the architect and not the project. Executive states who is authorized to sign this.

Check box

Has our committee thoroughly examined what is involved?
Just how will the materials be obtained?
Who will be in charge of the site?
How does the builder's price relate to Budget B?
Has our committee made a clear recommendation to the Executive? Have we seen and read ourselves the Executive minute approving the work?
What should we be doing next?


If for some reason of your own, at any stage of the job you decide to dispense with the service of your Community Builder, you must
a) discuss the matter with him and reach agreement;
b) pay in full what you owe him.
Until you have done these, you may not make use of what he has done or helped to prepare. This situation may seem improbable, but it does, and can happen. For example, when there is a new person in charge of the project who has yet to learn of the benefits to be gained from community building.

Quote -The architect in the community

"There were many other building problems. The bricklaying foreman and I agreed that we must do something to improve the laying of the concrete floors. He would let me have a go. Somehow nothing went right. No-one had told the family they would need wheelbarrows; stores did not have sufficient reinforcement to issue to the family; the concrete mix could not be measured because there were no gauges; everyone was at sixes and sevens. It was the worst concrete I have ever laid. In the South African mines the local people had learned to wait on the white boss and do as he said. So everyone looked at me, which I found really tough. I retired to lick my wounds and reflect. How was I to get them to see that I was a human being like themselves and that if we could put our heads together and share our experiences, then we should make progress?
There I was, working as a builder with a site such as I had never seen before! As the architect, none of this was my work; I had no responsibility for the supply of materials, nor for organizing the labour provided by the families: that was the job of the stores and the community department of the TSU. Yet gradually I began to realize that in fact my own experience could help in relating these different activities to each other. It was up to me to devise a method of planning the work, so that our builders knew day by day where to work, the community department could instruct the family in advance, and the stores knew what materials they must have in hand. At first people accepted this system just to please me, but as the work became more co-ordinated so this 'paper work' as it was referred to' demonstrated its worth and became understood and accepted. In this I learned another lesson that I have applied to all my work ever since: to simplify the method as far as is possible, and then to simplify it yet again before trying it out in practice."
Iliff Simey writing in Appropriate Technology, December 1984