A surveyor on behalf of the investor
When does a surveyor cover the general contractor?
Many surveyors will probably think I have gone crazy writing an article denigrating my own industry. I have heard many stories when working for international investors for years about geodesists lowering the costs of commissions. As a result, they deliver duds which are hard to believe. However, this article is not a critique of geodesists. University authorities are having problems with their education, they let us know about it themselves. On the other hand, I will make it clear that I don’t support concealing or changing the measurements for the general contractor’s profit. This article was written for investors, to warn about the methods of geodetic companies!
Underestimated geodesist on the construction site
With this article I want to draw attention to the fact that many aspects of the building process depends on the surveyor. The costs incurred are a fraction of the loses which may occur during the building process. Unfortunately, a surveyor on the construction site is often treated as a necessary evil and the least important element. Immodestly, I will say that investors underestimate this profession and it works to their disadvantage. Here I will describe the most important matters to illustrate the scale of the problem!
Surveyor hired by the investor or the general contractor?
When should an investor be vigilant and make sure the geodesist hired by the general contractor is supervised? Why should you do it at all, if there already is a geodesist? I sometimes hear: “It’s just doubling the costs!”. However, when I present some arguments to investors, especially the ones with an ongoing construction process, they become pretty nervous. There is a strong likelihood that if something is incorrectly built by the general contractor, the mistakes might not be revealed. Why? The geodesist hired by the general contractor will have no interest in questioning the quality of work done by his employer. That’s why, especially with large investments, the investor should hire a geodesist himself. In that situation he is like a supervision inspector carrying out an audit.
Examples of geodetic mistakes
What mistakes are covered up by geodesists hired by the general contractor? I have heard on many occasions that after the building has been built, the investor finds out that the elevator shaft is not vertical and the elevator does not fit between the floors. I have repeatedly heard of a wrong foundation placement in relation to the property boundaries. In my neighborhood alone there has been a new 4 storey retail and service building for 9 months. However, an permission to use the building has not been issued because it was revealed in the measurement after building the building that the building had been staked out by the geodesist in the wrong place before the foundation has been laid.
Geodesist ready to “take a dive”
Another example, which resulted in a won Wroclaw developer court case, where we were the flat buyer’s advisors, is the risk of losing the professional qualifications by the geodesist. It turns out that the geodesist pressured by the developer created two plans of one premises [pol.: metryczka lokalu] for a couple thousand flats: one for the registration document (pol.: księga wieczysta) and one for the buyer. The latter of course had an inflated area. The buyer recovered 18k PLN after about 3 years of trial because of the inflated area. The geodesist lost his qualifications, and the developer went bankrupt because many similar cases were brought to court.
Examples as a warning for investors
Other stories, which I have heard or settled by investors’ requests, are constant division or support walls moved relative to the project, elevator shafts not being continuous on different floors; inconsistencies in the floor level when building annexes to existing buildings; confusing the way of arranging the walls across the floors; entrance doors in the wrong place; or the wrong placement of outlets or installation connections. Countless examples can be made, which I am in fact doing together with other real estate market experts in the book “1000 błędów inwestorskich nieruchomości komercyjnych I mieszkaniowych” – details at www.resources.geodetic.co/sklep.
Who is paying for the mistakes?
Unfortunately, it’s always the investor who pays for such mistakes. True, the geodesist can be held responsible. The question is: is he insured and financially viable? Over the years I have been asked to present an insurance policy of the company only a few times. Why don’t investors care to check if the geodetic company has such an insurance? What’s more important here is the fact that the investor is affected far more than the geodesist possibly held responsible! Delays in putting premises to use, many installation or construction corrections which interfere with the building and its aesthetic and generate additional costs. But the most important is the time, which works to the disadvantage of the investor. Investors often have signed lease agreements, when the building isn’t yet constructed. A few months delay in handing the premise over to the tenant can result in the loss of a client, who usually has the right to terminate the contract in case of fault on the landlord’s part. The effect of losing a tenant is obviously a lack of profit from the lease. Additionally, there are commitments to the bank concerning the investment carried out from a credit.
When should a geodesist monitor another geodesist?
What should you do now and when should you spend additional money to feel safe? An investor should monitor a geodesist hired by the general contractor. I will point out that there is no point in doing that throughout the whole building process. Speaking from my experience, I advise a geodesist hired by the investor to visit the construction site at least when the open shell has been built. It’s worth checking the following matters then:
- Verticality of elevator shafts
- Heights of particular storeys, ceilings, landings
- Level of the floor
- Slope of ramps and
- Positioning of the building in relation to property boundaries
- Checking the column grid
- Checking the verticality of tall columns
- Maximum height of the building
You have a tool for negotiating
Finally, I’ll talk about probably the most important aspect of such a policy. An investor monitoring a geodesist hired by the general contractor has, above all, a tool for negotiating and “pressuring” the general contractor. This is in order to make him maintain the quality dictated by the project. Such cross-checking, often performed by us at construction sites, revealed the shortcomings of the general contractor. They were later corrected by him as a matter of urgency, at his own expense. Alternatively, when he denied – he was replaced, and payment for the incorrect work was not issued. Thanks to this approach the investor is able to monitor and react in order to minimize losses. After the construction process is finished and the general contractor left the construction site, he can only demand corrections according to the warranty, make them at his own expense or start a court case. I can only give advice, but the choice of the policy is up to the investor.