France + Associates France + Associates

We are pleased to confirm that as a company, we are still able to meet all service requirements – with the exception of instructing a building contractor to commence construction works onsite.

Whereas current building projects are informed by the Government(under present guidelines) that they can continue onsite as long as they follow the strict guidelines with respects to construction (working outside, 2 metre social distancing – see reference here.), the reality is that many sites have been brought to a halt due to the difficulty of purchasing materials. In some cases, larger construction firms have temporarily closed as they feel unable to properly enforce the government’s operational guidelines, therefore ceasing work altogether.

Some of our construction sites continue whilst they have materials and availability of trades, but it is likely if the current climate persists that these will be temporarily halted too.

In cases where a construction site comes to a temporary halt, building contractors are likely to claim a “force majeure” event or a “frustration of the contract”, on the basis that the pandemic is outside of the control of all parties (Main Building Contractor and the Employer). This is likely to be a successful claim in instances when the constructions works commenced prior to the pandemic.

Unfortunately, where upcoming Building Contracts are concerned, no contract can realistically be signed in the knowledge of the current climate and it’s uncertainty – hence why no construction work can realistically commence.  

However, managing construction projects is just part of portfolio of services. Below are other ways we can help you:

1.       Accommodation Reports - we will carry out video conferences to “visit” the home, or defer a visit to a later time.

2.       Property Finding -this is normally done remotely until such a time as a visit is required. Property specific decisions would be made on any prospective visits, it is likely that video conferences would be undertaken of any prospective properties, to allow us to proceed to the next stage.

3.       Property Appraisal – we can provide opinion on the property in question. We can prepare drawing information using estate agent particulars, former planning applications, aerial mapping and any other desktop enable historic information.

4.       Surveying – we can visit a property if required to carry out land surveys and, in some circumstances, building surveys. We would ask that the property is either vacant for possession or that the present occupier stays in one room, isolated from our surveyors. This is reviewed on a case by case basis; however, we have carried out surveys of this type in the last 2 weeks.

5.       Feasibility Design – if the information is available, we are able to prepare feasibility drawing scheme and present design options to the Client. All design meetings are conducted via Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype or other forms of video conferencing. If using the above examples, we can “share” screens from our home offices, using 3Ds and other illustrative methods to talk through designs and presentations.

6.       Cost report – we can carry out full cost analyses either “in house” or using our Quantity Surveyor, who is also working from home.

7.       Planning Application – all local authorities remain operational and as such accept planning applications. We have several planning applications with local authorities and they are proceeding as expected. Where a meeting is to be held with the planning officer, we do so with the various forms of video conferencing tools.

8.       Technical Drawings – this is the most significant time-consuming part of the process. It relies on information such as surveys (asbestos, bat surveys, tree surveys etc), which for the most part remain operational. Again, the option of whether a specific survey can be carried out is dependent on various circumstances of the property and is reviewed on a case by case basis. Again, this process however can be progressed, and we can complete all technical drawings, specifications, finishes schedules etc. All design meetings, i.e. choosing finishes or styles can be one remotely. We have progressed two projects recently during this time of lock down up to “tender stage”.

9.       Tendering Projects – we can seek quotations from building contractors. In fact, Building Contractors are actively looking for work they can price to keep busy and plan their work once this pandemic and its restrictions have lifted. This will allow your Client to receive prices and make a decision on which contractor they would like to work with.

10.   Preferred Contractor – we can issue a contractor with a letter of intent, with the caveat that a commencement date will only be agreed once the restrictions ease off, and that the letter is not binding. It will provide the contractor with assurance of upcoming work, and will allow parties to commit to some matters being discussed and addressed prior to commencement – such as project planning resources etc.

 

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, France and Associates cannot:

1.       Appoint Building Contractors under a contract.

2.       A building contractor cannot commence work.

3.       Where work continues, we are choosing not to visit in person, opting for video calls and “touring” the sites. Fortunately, most of our building contracts have either ended in time or are temporary halted, whilst restrictions remain in place and the difficulty on purchasing building materials. It is unrealistic to monitor and supervise building sites over a prolonged period without visiting in person due to necessary checks required, and we would in time recommend for the works to be halted, or for the Employer/Deputy to make decision in the best interest of their Client.  

 

We hope the above list clarifies that most services on offered from France and Associates can still be provided for your Clients, allowing matters to progress as far as reasonably possible.  

We continue to work on a variety of projects and cases at different stages, and at this time is “business as usual”.

For more information, contact us on
01484 960560 or email us +

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