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How To Cost Plan Commissioning Management

How to Cost Plan Commissioning Management

Quality, Consequences and the Construction Industrial Complex (part 310).

A project quantity surveyor (PQS) once told me, “you commissioning firms are like rhinoceroses, you are thick skinned and charge a lot”.

He was referring to the way commissioning costs on the project had escalated. I asked two questions:

  1. Why was there was no cost plan for commissioning when the project was planned or started on site
  2. Commissioning firms have no control over design, construction or factors of production, yet somehow, costs to get systems completed, running and verified as specified are “extra”?

It is the developers job to ensure that they and / or the design team, specify the commissioning scope of work in detail to ensure all costs can be accounted for at biding stage.

Frustration, arguments and conflict are outcomes from a lack of clarity.

Some firms like to live in the ‘grey areas” of ill defined scope and costs because that is where the extras to contract are found i.e. the ability to make more money due to other project players not doing their job.

I have reviewed several cost models published in UK’s Building Magazine and there is not one mention of building commissioning. I believe that all project plans need to incorporate a cost plan for building commissioning and commissioning management. This would be my approach to cost plan commissioning management (CxM).

CxM Cost Plan Influences:

  • Market forces i.e. boom or bust. There never seems to be any other market condition.
  • Financial viability and insurance capacity of CxM firms.
  • Skill shortages, which can be epic.
  • Building type & complexity.
  • Building use i.e. is it mission critical?
  • Green building certification target.

CxM Cost Plan Headings:

RIBA Stage 2 – Concept Design

2.1 Review and contribute to owners project requirements (project design brief for design team).

RIBA Stage 4 – Design Phase Commissioning

4.1 Commissionability design documents review and report.
4.2 Commissioning, TAB, O&M, Systems Manuals & close out specification sections.
4.3 Design phase commissioning plan.

RIBA Stage 5 – Static (no power) Commissioning

5.1 Factory acceptance testing (FAT).
5.2 Commissioning kick off meeting.
5.3 Commissioning logic networks & programme (schedule).
5.4 Construction phase commissioning plan using approved controls sequences of operation for FPT scripts.
5.5 Installation commissioning inspections on site (quantify number of inspections).
5.6 Review and comment on vendor plus contractor start-up & commissioning method statements.
5.7 Witness static installation tests (quantify number of tests).

RIBA Stage 5 – Dynamic (power on) Commissioning

5.8 Manage commissioning process (time based activity).
5.8.1 Witness equipment & system start-up.
5.8.2 Witness equipment & system pre-commissioning.
5.8.3 Witness CHW & HTG systems pipework flushing, cleaning & dosing.
5.8.4 Witness equipment & system vendor commissioning.
5.8.5 Witness testing, adjusting & balancing.
5.8.6 Verify Functional performance testing (FPT).
5.8.7 Verify Integrated Systems Testing (IST).
5.8.8 Verify specialist systems training.
5.8.9 Review O&M Manuals for general content and completeness.
5.10 Advise client on systems completion and building functional readiness.

RIBA Stage 6 – Handover & Close Out (12 months defects liability period)

6.1 Issue practical (substantial) completion commissioning report.
6.2 Complete seasonal and deferred testing.
6.3 Loop and fine tuning controls systems.
6.4 Review and advise status of commissioning related snags (defects) at 10 months.
6.5 Update & issue final commissioning report.

General CxM Cost Headings

  1.  Site office
  2. P.I Insurance
  3. General Insurances
  4. Allowable disbursements
  5. Overhead and profit
  6. Contingency @ 10% to 15% (prolongation, disruption, out of hours working)
  7.  Schedule of rates

CxM Procurement Notes:

  • Appoint early, preferably during design phase. YES!, commissioning begins during design phase.
  • Understand some commissioning actives are offsite and some are full time onsite.
  • Lead times:
  • Pre-qualification – 1 month
  • Bidding – 3 months
  • Negotiation and appointment – 1 month

Are there rules of thumb to cost CxM based on building size and complexity? Yes, but I am keeping them to myself. However, the costs noted above exist on every project. The choice is to recognize them early or be surprised by them late in the project, when the money has run out.

Your move PQS.

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