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Small job management/risk

Small job management/risk

Small job management/risk

This is mainly for the structural and small-firm users, but I guess it branches into business practice and risk for small jobs:

Have you dealt with approvals for load testing (or similar calibrated field test)? I came across an opportunity for ongoing review of fall arrest load tests on buildings. Here are a few of my uncertainties:
1. Load test performed by calibrated equipment. How can I enforce/review the calibration and get that info from the client?
2. Load test performed on site by the qualified person. Results/report/info delivered to engineer for review/approval. Some OHS regulations are saying witnessing the test, etc. how to you find the compromise with this when generally not being on site during the test?
3. What is everyone's take on risk level of this type of project? Load test should be pretty good confidence on the rating, but the consequence of bad results, bad test, misinterpreting info, could lead to fatality.
4. How do you price this? Per 10 anchors? Per building? Bracket for number of anchors per building? Etc.

I approach things pretty conservatively being in the young part of my solo venture, but also would like to having a steady amount of work to bill for. I've also been told that this is "done all the time and for XXX dollars per review". I'm interested in hearing others take on this type of work and the pros/pitfalls of it...

RE: Small job management/risk

Some comments:
1. If calibrated equipment is to be used, then there must be an official calibration certificate. Get in the habit of requesting the calibration certificate for each and every individual project. The submission will become automatic over time and you will have the paperwork in each individual file. Perhaps even have them submit a photo of the calibrated equipment each time so that you can verity the equipment matches the certificate. You will have to agree to how often the equipment is calibrated.
2. The testing likely has to be carried out under your care and control. This doesn't necessarily mean you have to be onsite, however, it does mean that it must be someone who is trained and reports directly to you and someone that you trust. I am assuming that you should likely go out and work with the technician the first 3 or 4 projects to ensure they are doing the work properly and to your standards. Also perhaps a site visit down the road periodically to check in, and also for any non-standard roof anchor installations. Remember, if the technician makes a mistake, you will be responsible for it.
3. There is risk in everything. Establishing detailed procedures will help minimize this risk. The failure of roof anchors is relatively rare, although admitedly I don't have any hard data to back this up. Also, anyone using roof anchors must be supported by more than one anchor, which adds redundancy. If you do your homework and become an expert in the field, I feel the risk would not be all that great. Finding an experienced mentor would help greatly.
4. Fees - based on my experience, this might be problematic. If you have to compete for the work, I am guessing the fees will be pretty low and might not give you the time you would like to spend on each project. I may be wrong here, but unfortunately the industry seems to operate in this manner, a race to the bottom. If you can develop some loyal clients that want to work with you and you can negotiate a decent fee, that would be great. I think you need a mob/demob fee which would depend on travel time to site, etc... and would perhaps include up to perhaps 6 anchors. Add report time, management time, client contact time, then sit back and think about your risk. If you believe the risk to be high, then factor up your fee estimate to account for this. For roofs with more than 6 anchors, or roofs basins at different elevations, etc.... you add to your base fee as appropriate.

I have used roof anchors at lot with swingstages and bosun chairs and am familiar with them, but never load tested them. Engineering investigations and construction review of work being performed. I think it will be pretty easy to get up to speed with all the standards and testing protocol. It could be a revenue stream but would not be surprised that others in your are are doing it really really cheaply. Good luck.

RE: Small job management/risk

@Canuck65: Thanks for the food for thought. #1 and #2 especially. I'm gonna sit on this for a bit.

RE: Small job management/risk

2- I would like to visit site initially to witness tests if I am being asked to approve them. Then visit periodically. Get to know the person doing the testing, get a feel for how trustworthy they are.

3- there is risk in everything. Engineering judgement is the management of that.

4- pricing is time x risk. I usually give a fee estimate, not fixed prices. When the client hires inexperienced contractors, minimal consulting services from the architect or other professionals, they turn to you to do the professional heavy lifting. This is quite common. That's when my original fee estimate doesn't cover the expectations. You never know what a job is like until you're into it. A seasoned client will understand when they haven't allowed enough fees to cover their shortcomings in contractor/PM/architect selection. And an inexperienced client only can learn one way, the hard way, that my fees cost more in the end when you cheap out on every other front

RE: Small job management/risk

Do you have a written test plan or procedure?
Does it:
  • fully describe the equipment under test
  • itemize the equipment to be used to take measurements (including calibration)
  • have clear pass/fail criteria
  • define the responsibilities of every person with a role during the test
  • specify the safety procedures to be obeyed during the test
  • capture an approval statement from the person with authority when the test is complete
My test plans can get very meticulous. Even though I have tested many things in my time, some a bit dodgy, I haven't had any unpleasant surprises.

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