For Commercial Managers, the essence of the monthly approval of the trades’ payment applications is knowing that the work claimed to be concluded during the specific month period has truly and safely been done, completed with no loose ends and according to plans and specifications to the required level of quality. In order to be able to accurately evaluate whether payment should be made and the value for each of the trades on the project, quite a large amount of information needs to be gathered from various sources and then compared, coordinated and assessed.
In addition, all possible evidence needs to be documented with clear visual supporting documentation to serve as references so that possible disputes are minimized.
The Buildots AI-based construction process management system was designed to enable maximal control of construction processes at minimal effort. With hard-hat mounted 360 cameras, Buildots scans the site and turns every site walk into actionable information from the project. Each video is compared to the BIM and programme schedule to result in a clear, consolidated and objective view of the current project status: task durations, activities in progress, pace, percentage complete, loose ends, errors and more. Users can choose to view a complete project or drill down to review information for a specific location, across a whole floor or review a trade’s performance.
With Buildots, monthly valuations can be concluded in a fraction of the usual time and with an extremely high level of certainty. This frees up time and capacity for commercial managers to focus on other tasks, such as procuring and appointing trades for the next work packages or “digging” into some of the more complex disputes. Let’s see how.
Validating completion and compliance
Traditionally, a Quantity Surveyor would find themselves walking around the site at the end of each month taking photographs and scribbling handwritten notes. Upon returning to the office they would begin to compare their notes and photographs, ask package managers specific questions and review site team record keeping; and only then begin to manually apply completion percentages to the payment application to establish their interim payment or check an interim payment. Analyzed information is then consolidated so that Commercial Managers would be able to issue the interim payment certificate.
With Buildots, the data is automatically collected from the site, analyzed and automatically cross-checked with the 3D BIM model and programme for the project, resulting in a clear understanding for the Commercial Manager of all actual work performed, gaps, loose ends, percentage complete and more – all per trade, per location and for any specific date.
Now, Commercial Managers can immediately establish if the project is on programme and what percentage of work has been completed up to that point, allowing them to further establish a fair amount for an interim valuation payment. Your team will be able to spend less time on the site leading to increased productivity and time for more value-adding tasks.
The system also minimises friction around the processing of payment applications, which are always sensitive as neither party wants to overpay or be underpaid. As a Commercial Manager, you can now enjoy objective, unbiased, and accurate 3rd party data, which ensures that the trades and yourself can remain friends!
In the event that work has not been completed, Buildots will automatically indicate what are the ‘loose ends’ for the trade and work package, causing the defined work to be incomplete. Each of these incomplete tasks can be investigated and drilled down to view the actual missing element or activity and indicate its location on site for action by the trade.
Record keeping and site instructions
The majority of disputes in construction are fueled by verbal conversations often not substantiated with sufficient evidence or record keeping and resulting in unnecessary clashes, but many of these would not have been claimed or would have been easily settled had clear and objective evidence been available.
The Buildots system can provide objective evidence to clear up potential claims or disputes. The use of its camera technology, as well as the automatic flagging of issues as soon as they arise, can even prevent the issue from being raised as a potential dispute in the first place.
Therefore, resolving a dispute before formal dispute resolution processes are required, such as arbitration, will save significant legal costs from being incurred by all parties. This can also help protect the working relationship of all parties involved on a project.
Quality and Safety
Validating whether a work package has been completed or not and to what extent is indeed the largest portion of the monthly evaluation process, but another aspect to validate is whether the work performed was correctly done and with the expected level of quality and safety. Here is where Buildots can also help provide a clear answer.
Buildots provides a first layer of visual quality assessment, identifying many issues as they happen. Common issues we see on sites are “forgotten” elements, building to outdated plans, or misplaced elements. This first layer helps drastically reduce the number of snags during handover, and helps the commercial team push to mitigate those issues early with the trades.
In addition, Buildots can help trigger a human quality check, either through in-app workflows, or connecting to other platforms such as BIM360 Field and similar. In this type of configuration, the information regarding the quality check would be reflected on the commercial report so it could be taken into account.
Managing variations and claims
It can be difficult at times to assess the true value of a variation or a claim. Assessing what was the initial cause? Was the work instructed? What was the actual impact on the programme? Did it have any effect on other trades? Did we have to contra-charge? Is it recoverable? The Buildots system helps reform this process by allowing accurate figures to be generated for claims and helps the Commercial Managers to justify the reasoning for the size of the claim, by providing them with accurate data.
Clearly, there will always be cases where Commercial Managers will need to spend time investigating these issues with the trades. But at least you will actually have the time to do this properly if 90% of your monthly valuation takes only 10% of your time, freeing up extra bandwidth for client financial reporting, procurement and final account agreement.