In the building game, things do go wrong from time to time, it’s the nature of the job. Whether its as serious as theft or just inconvenient like unexpected obstacles to progress, as project managers, we are paid to keep those to a minimum, and as far as possible we should only be dealing with modifying plans for minor mishaps or unseen circumstances.
Imagine my sense of humour failure this week when we were on site, preparing to hand over after the second fix was complete on our latest project, a 12 storey block in the heart of an industrial zone in a big UK city. We knew that the timing was crucial, as there were some commercial kitchens being fitted throughout the building, and the client had been remarkable cagey, with the usual nonsense about non-disclosure agreements hampering progress at various points throughout the project.
Fortunately for us, completion was legally complete, so there was no comeback as far as we were concerned, but that doesn’t stop us wanting to help a client in their moment of need, after disaster struck less than half an hour after completion. The problem was those commercial kitchens were to feature oversized range cookers, as well as the Smeg models that had been included in previous discussions. At ground level, that can usually be solved by removing a window or using any available entrance to solve the issues. When they need to be installed some distance from the ground though, that’s an entirely different headache.
We’d gone to great lengths to learn about the appliances ahead of fitting the internal aspects of the building, even going to the probably more cautious than necessary lengths of installing oversized lifts, capable of hoisting heavy equipment to the upper floors. For common equipment, like those items we were aware of, you can just look up dimensions and weights, for example with Smeg range cooker reviews that are generous with the specifics. If we’d been able to get the information we needed (much) earlier in the process, there would never have been an issue, as it would all have been considered ahead of time and plans drawn up.
Of course, a solution was found, but that meant damaging the pristine finish of a brand new building, and a huge unnecessary cost of making good those areas afterwards. There will also be an ongoing risk that machinery will need to be replaced, and it’s going to be even tougher to take those items out and get replacements back in once the premises are occupied and operational. The moral of the story? NDA’s (in our opinion) are all well and good, but only when you really need to keep things secret. I don’t think our team of structural engineers, brickies and plasterers are ever going to be much of a threat to Gordon Ramsey or Jamie Oliver even if they have all the celebrity chef trade secrets!