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Preliminaries

Preliminaries - usually shortened to prelims, is something that is often overlooked, particularly on smaller projects or those that are managed by the homeowners themselves. Probably because most people don't actually know what they are, even if they recognise the word.

My definition - Preliminaries are those items that are not specific to work elements or even individual trades but have an identifiable cost which is useful to consider separately in tendering.

To clarify, Preliminaries relate to the cost-significant items required by the method and particular circumstances under which the work is to be carried out, and those costs concerned with the whole of the works rather than individual elements within the project. These costs may either be 'one-off' fixed costs, such as the cost of site accommodation and welfare facilities, or 'ongoing' costs such as the provision of temporary light and power.

You can see therefore that something that may be required for everyone involved cannot be included in a specific scope of works for a particular trade. So these things are essential and have to be paid for, and are often forgotten until it is too late. Of course it may be OK and not cost much and not be too disruptive, but we don't like to work like that.

If we are going to manage the project properly we need to identify the Prelims and get them costed so we can have a more accurate budget. Now I am not going to give you a comprehensive list here, you can get that from the site when it goes live, but you should be thinking about things such as scaffolding - it is not just for the bricklayers. The carpenters, roof tilers, window fitters, painters all will need to use it. Welfare facilities, Health and Safety and many other items will need to be considered, depending on the scale and complexity of your project.

Once you have identified the prelims, you need to consider how they will be paid for. Maybe you will let the workforce use your WC and washing facilities. It may save you money but can you cope with the disruption? What about security? If you are having the roof opened up, who will be responsible for temporary weatherproofing? There is considerable scope in the Prelims for cost savings, if you undertake some of the responsibilities, but do consider carefully what impact it may have on you and your family.

More later

The Project Master