Drawing a blank

With the introduction of electronic drawing portals and online repositories it has become easy to ‘share’ files. BMS companies are frequently sent enquiries typically with `Dropbox` type emails, which contain literally hundreds of ‘zipped’ site drawings and no meaningful specification. The vast majority of these drawings have no significant content for the BMS companies, they are merely sent ‘just in case’ there is something on the drawings for them to include for.

Tender (and subsequent contract) documents put the onus on the controls company to have read and understood all the documentation to ensure they have made allowances for all requirements. But to bid for a contract, the controls company must trawl their way through dozens of irrelevant documents (plumbing, brickwork, roof, tiling, drains, etc) just in case some reference to controls or BMS is made. Most tender packs do not summarise the controls requirements but disperse them among the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning under control. There is no obvious numbering system to drawings and while they might include mechanical and electrical drawings, specific BMS/controls drawings are rarely included. At best there is a generic spec – much of which is repetitive and not relevant to that specific contract. Assumptions then have to be made, the requirements are uncertain and this subsequently raises questions for the consulting engineer, who very often does not know the answers. This can result in a small contract varying in cost, say from £25k to £45k with options. This is bad news for the client!

So, what is the solution? Perhaps by liaising with other organisations a uniform referencing/look-up regime could be adopted for drawings and specifications that allowed indexing to find the relevant bit then the specification could be written properly to clearly detail what is required. Having a more common numbering system as well as having separate drawings for the BMS contractors would save a lot of time – and therefore costs – on projects. We already have drawings for the mechanical and electricals – why not have a third for BMS/controls and the dreaded metering?

It is no wonder that ‘design and build’ becomes ‘design as we build’ and the client ends up getting something quite different to what they wanted.