8 tricks of suppliers and Workmen on your Construction Site

Impediments to success on your construction site can come in diverse forms. One of the notable challenges you may come across on your construction site are the antics of suppliers and workmen . This article highlights the 8 antics of suppliers and workmen on your construction site.

If you are not on site for your building project in our built environment, it takes a lot to get the best result. Building is serious work in this part of the world. If you don’t have the time, you should have the money or vice versa. You can be in want of this two things, otherwise you won’t get anywhere. The situation in the building industry make matters worse.

Some years ago a friend of mine – an architect, embarked on a project. He had made inquiries pertaining to blocks at the initial stage of the project, he found out blocks of 9 inches were sold for N180, but just before the start of the project he sent his staff to also inquire, he was also told it was N180. Note that this his staff was with him on the day he made the initial enquiry.

He eventually found out that just close to his site he could get blocks for N170 each. Therefore, his staff who confirmed the N180 price would have made for instance a million naira from N10 on every block, if an average of 1,000 were purchased.

You may say it’s an unwritten rule for contractors to have their own share, even at the point of contracting them. But is it right? You may ask, can’t my friend turn a blind eye and let go? After all it’s just 10 naira difference…And I ask; is it part of the contingencies that come with the business? Because I understand that even in supermarket and super stores some percentage provision is made for theft and all that. This is quite alarming, and kills business.

Without further ado, let’s examine some of the antics employed by suppliers and workmen on site, how to address them, as well as secure yourself or reduce your exposure to such antics. You may not be able to totally eradicate it, but you can reduce the occurrence in your case to the barest minimum.

Fundamentally, your choice of the contractor matters a lot. It determines how your whole project will pan out. Therefore, you must know the things you ought to take cognizance of when employing one.

Here are the 8 antics of suppliers and workmen you need to look out for or be mindful of on site;

1. Most contractors want to get the job at all cost. So once you have given them something for instance, they know it will probably cost N30,000 yet they will quote N17,500, knowing fully well that their competition will bring in a quote of N30, 000. This is just so he gets the job.

Then once he gets the job, he will tell you he forgot to add certain items. You are not the expert, you don’t know the things he’ll need for the job. He’ll leave these key things out, only to include them at the latter stage. By the time these latter items are added, the quotation would have come to N30,000 or more.

Now depending on how or who you engaged, you may not be able to back out at this point. Call it ‘a point of no return’

2. They steal out rightly. Between the contractor, supplier, and workmen, they can make you bankrupt if you don’t tread carefully. This act takes place in many ways, because they connive. That’s why it’s important you get a security house, a  storage where you can keep things and probably engage a security person. The parties involved act out the whole theft, cooperating with one another.

3. They work less for standard pay if not well supervised. The bricklayer has his daily pay which is given to me after a day’s job. Invariably, there is there is a standard day’s job and a standard day’s pay. If you don’t monitor them carefully they will be on your site for the eight hour duration of a day’s job, but will not do a day’s job on the long run. The implication of this is that, they will take a longer time to finish the project, and collect more money by so doing.

4. The contractors are fond of engaging inexperienced or unskilled people so that they can pay less. The ones who probably know the job, collect much more. So they take the contract and seek cheap and unskilled labour. I must admit that we have a problem with workmen in our country, because vocational institutions have not really supplied the appropriate skills for the industry. There again, there are still those of them who can do the job, but contractors bypass them and hire the unskilled workers for less pay.

I know of someone who wanted to fix tiles in her sitting room. She sought a professional for the job but the professional was going to charge her more money, as a result she looked out for someone who could do the job equally as well but with less pay.

She admitted that she spent more money with the second person than she would have paid the professional. The person in question charged her the first time and she paid, then came back later to include all other kinds of items he claimed he needed because according to him the price had changed.

Also, she had to supervise the person on the job, something she wouldn’t have done with the professional.

5. Suppliers deliberately supply your items in short quantities. For instance, there should be a standard supply of iron metals and sheets on the construction site, and usually because these building materials are purchased in bulk, one may not have the patience to count. A dozen for example will be stacked as eleven or ten unknown to you.

Another common one is the truck loads of sand, where you would be told this truck load is five, ten, or twenty tons, but they are never complete. So you always spend more for less. There have been cases where they spend more money and buy more, this may be as a result of inexperience or the person is just trying to play safe, and by so doing provision of building materials needed on site comes in surplus, resulting in a high quantity of unused materials at the end of construction.

Suffice it to say that in making quotations for building materials, you should always leave room for contingencies.

When this excess occurs, there is a way of dealing with them such that you can still get back some money. Be on your toes to ensure that your contractor doesn’t do this behind you, because he will pocket the money. Well, it could be appropriate, and it may not be appropriate, depending on the terms of the contract.

6. Contractors also deliberately purchase inferior materials, cheaper items or items not up to specification. Imagine a situation where you are to use a 10 mm steel, they may go for less. When you are supposed to use 12 mm they buy 10 mm, because 10 mm is definitely cheaper than 12 mm.  They pocket the difference without using the specified item for your project. This calls to question the integrity of the construction; one of the reasons the building collapse is on the rise.

7. If they get wind of the level of your documentation for the building, especially if its not complete or still being processed. Let’s take Building Approval in a place like Lagos for instance, they can actually employ fake government officials to harass you and extort money from you on site. Before you realise what hit you, you would have paid money to mercenary government officials. It happens a lot, therefore the need to be watchful and guard against it.

8. They short change some stages of the building process or requirement to save money. For example, if you want German floor, they will need to put certain things like nylon in place before pouring the concrete to seal off the water from contaminating the wall; even before putting paving stones to stop grass from growing.

They may have made quotations and collected the money for it, but if you are not there as at the time they are doing that, they can just swindle the money for that, and just go on with doing a bad job on the German floor. Imagine building just walls, then later coming to put German floors, its not standard process.

This list is not exhaustive, albeit it should enlighten you on the shady things happening on construction sites. All of these schemes are designed to make money off the person building anyway and anyhow. Don’t be deterred, there are ways of guarding against all these antics, or at least bringing the antics to the barest minimum on your construction site.