In this blog, we will highlight the information that consultants need from clients and the information that clients need from their consultants.
What buildings need to be surveyed?
To begin with, consultants need to know what type of buildings need to be surveyed and the location of the property. What is going to be included? Are we looking at one building, a main building or all the buildings on site? Some buildings on the site may be newer buildings so they may not need surveying. By highlighting these facts you give the consultants what we as consultants need to know so we can price up your asbestos survey correctly.
The easiest way to do this is rely on plans. They give a good overview of your buildings and what you want surveying. Failing that, provide details of the building sizes and descriptions of buildings.
What survey do you need?
Consultants need to know what type of survey you need. Is it a management survey, refurbishment survey or demolition survey? Talk to your consultant about what you need.
Site asbestos information
Tell us what else is on your site. What is the site used for? This can help us identify what we need to allow for within our quotation. It helps us to ensure we have the right PPE etc but also that we send out surveyors with the skills and experience needed for your requirements.
For example, there is a lot that goes into a confined spaces survey and that affects the price considerably. If you have a confined space, we may need to increase our personnel and the duration of the job. If a confined space is small and access is limited that can increase the time frame of the survey.
Tell us if there are any high spaces so we can bring the correct equipment.
Is the work urgent?
We need to know if any of the work is urgent. It’s always helpful for us to know how urgently you need your surveys carrying out. Are there any immediate emergency inspection works that need to be carried out?
Tell us if you believe there is an issue on site so we can look at that first. If you are looking at a survey lasting three or four weeks you don’t want to wait a month to receive important information.
Access permits and authorisation for accessing sites are also important. Some of the big sites we have visited have required us to take part in a half-day induction before we could even set foot on site. Consider whether we need personnel to escort us around the site? Is there any other specialist equipment that is needed? Are there any risks or hazards on the site? Are there any times we need to work around? Who do we see for keys? What time can we access certain areas as they may be restricted? If a door is locked and we cannot access it, who should have the key and who should we go to if that person is on holiday?
Highlight if you have large vehicles driving around and information about pedestrian walkways. Look at your own procedures for what you do on your site and pass that information onto surveying companies.
Tell us who is on the site. Are there children or vulnerable people? Is there security on site? Prisons are interesting as obviously when we take samples, we use knives and screwdrivers – things that you are not allowed to take into a prison, so we have to figure out how we can collect our samples.
We have worked on sites where there is top secret information and we are not allowed to take photographs. We collect our data on Ipads which have cameras on the back, so we have had to overcome the facts that we can’t take photos or we agree a protocol that we can take photographs.
Don’t forget about communication on site as asbestos is an emotive word. The precedent should be set and agreed prior to works being carried out.
Some companies are open about things like that and will send round a memorandum beforehand to explain the situation. In that instance, people have stopped us and asked us about our work. We have run briefings before work has commenced on site to give people the opportunity to ask questions and see what we are doing and why we are doing it. It helps to educate people about asbestos and makes them realise that it doesn’t mean they are at risk.
Sometimes, we’ve carried out surveys where the client doesn’t want to mention asbestos and wants to keep the information restricted to people who need to know. The problem is when you undertake the survey, you are only halfway through the job and little bit of knowledge is dangerous. Hearing the asbestos word, can scare people when there are actually no works to be carried out. Sometimes, it is better to wait until you have all the information and then you can deal with it accordingly.
To whom should surveyors report?
Who we should report to is also important. Sometimes, we are instructed by a property department, but when we get to site, the actual person involved may not be on site. Knowing how to contact the site managers and supervisors is really helpful as it means if we have any questions, we know who to ask.
Does the surveyor have the right skills and experience?
Firstly, are they capable of doing the job? What kind of experience do the surveyors have? Have they got the right accreditations? It is that information that allows us to undertake these kinds of works.
Ask about the individual surveyors who will be working on your site – don’t just look at the company overall.
Doing an asbestos survey sounds relevantly straight forward – you need to attend the site, sample materials, take them back to the laboratory and share the results with the clients. In reality, surveyors need to look at all the different materials, construction types and complexities and they need to have the right experience and qualifications to do all that properly.
Jobs are so vastly different and no survey is the same. Building types are constructed differently and there are different places to look and focus on. Particularly with refurbishments or demolition, you have got to have the experience of getting into all those places and knowing where to look.
What are your surveyor’s quality procedures?
Ask for evidence of the surveyor’s quality procedures and references from previous clients. Don’t just take a written reference, speak to previous clients as well to find out what happened on site.
Ask to see your surveyor’s insurances
You need to see your surveyor’s insurances. When asbestos goes wrong, it goes wrong in a major way and will cost a lot of money. Get that cover in place to ensure you are covered and that it is fit for your site.
If you have a site that has a high financial risk and the survey goes wrong and stops you being able to generate the money you normally do, you need to make sure that insurance cover is in place to ensure your company is covered. Look for professional indemnity cover and make sure that the policy covers what you need. For example, there might be cover for asbestos management surveys but does it cover refurbishments and demolition surveys?
Check the cost
You need to check that the cost is the cost – is it a fixed cost or is there a variance to those costs? We’ve seen surveyors charging for the cost of a survey and then a cost per sample or the survey includes up to 10 samples and then there is a cost thereafter. You should look for unlimited policies that allow for as many samples or surveys as required.
Consultants need to confirm to their client that they have understood what works need to be carried out. If there is a fully written scope, we can place this within your quotation to show what we are going to complete. However, if there an ‘up in the air’ kind of scope, we need to regurgitate that information back to you and you need to be satisfied that what we are stating is what you actually want.
Once that is all confirmed, we then provide a plan of works for the scope and survey. The plan of works shows when we are going to sample, when we will do the survey, times we will access all areas and has to incorporate all the hazards that the clients have brought to our attention.
We also need to mention what we are not going to do. If there is an area that we don’t need to access, that is fine, we can still add it to the report and make a note that we haven’t surveyed it.
Another thing that needs to be agreed and identified first and foremost is the report and the turnaround time. A lot of clients don’t ask how long the report will take. Some surveying companies may be able to get on site tomorrow but you may not get the report for three months. The survey is only half the job, it’s the report and other things that take time to process.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
The main issue is the more information you have the better and ensure you give it to the surveying company. Don’t be afraid to ask for and clarify things at the beginning. The turnaround is the biggest thing, if you urgently need this information, ask for a 24 hour turnaround – you may have to pay extra for it but you can get what you want.
We’re a professional asbestos consultancy helping businesses deal with asbestos compliance using asbestos surveys, asbestos testing, and asbestos removal. Please call one of the team, or use the online form to obtain your free quotation. If you would like further information or advice on asbestos and asbestos training, contact the team on 0844 818 0895 or email email@example.com .