In the construction industry, design, documentation and production happen in disjointed environments. The design team mostly works from the office, while the construction team is based on site. To coordinate the work, monitor progress and exercise professional control, it is essential for the design team to occasionally visit the site to keep tabs on the project.
For the project quantity surveyor, the construction phase of the project requires them to make occasional site visits. The project requires their participation in inspections, attendance of site meetings or visiting for assessing the level of progress and materials on site to prepare valuations and appraisals.
For the last six months, I have been working as a resident quantity surveyor on a project that involved the construction of school infrastructure. The site encompassed the whole county, with the select schools where the infrastructure was being built as the sub-sites (forming a total of more than 280 sub-sites).
Consequently, a lot of travelling was/is involved. Every active site needs to be visited to assess the volume of work done and for routine quality control purposes. When planning for site visits, I have my list of essentials that I take with me to every site. Join me in the following paragraphs as I share the items in my list in more detail:
Personal Protective Gear
The first thing I look at is the health and safety aspects. A construction site is a high-risk environment. There is traffic from the movement of construction workers, equipment and vehicles; and the risk of falling objects and sharp objects that can hurt you.
During my visits, I carry my personal protective equipment/gear with me. This includes a helmet (hard hat), safety boots and a reflector jacket.
The safety helmet helps protect my head in case of any falling object hits, by reducing the impact. If I accidentally hit my head against any surface, the helmet will absorb the shock instead of it acting directly on my head.
Further, a reflector jacket is for making you highly visible within the construction site environment. High visibility is important to avoid being hit by moving vehicles or spinning machine/equipment parts. The operator will see you from a distance and exercise the precautionary measures.
Also, it serves to make the dressing uniform and protect your shirt from dust or possible stains. The one I was using for the project had a compartment for slipping in the name tag with my identification details. Any new person/visitor would easily get to know my name and designation by reading the conspicuously displayed personal name tag.
Safety boots come in handy to protect the foot from the risk of being pierced by sharp objects, slippery and oily surfaces, muddy ground and hard surfaces such as surfaces of hardcore.
I have industrial-grade safety boots from ACE Safety Africa, a division of Umoja. They are made of comfortable leather, with a thick light sole and a metallic toe cap for protecting the foot from impact.
Measurement and Record-Taking Tools
Some of my reports require that I take actual site measurements, especially for works that are below ground and will be possibly covered (substructure works). Also, photographic records are required as evidence of work progress level, quality and construction techniques.
For taking measurements internally (and within short spans), I have a 7.5-metre measuring tape. This can fit in my pocket or anchor on my belt and hang from the side as I walk around the site. Longer spans I cover using the 100-metre measuring tape.
Notebook and Ink Pen
After taking measurements, I record them in my notebook. Currently, I am using a branded notebook I got from the Board of Registration of Architects and Quantity Surveyors (BORAQS) during the CPD seminars. When I need to sketch out some details, I do that in the notebook using a normal ink pen.
In addition to the measurements, notes and sketches, photos make a great compliment to the issues I wanted to capture on-site. Tying my notes with photographic records makes it easy to understand stuff when I am in the office writing my reports. Also, they are important in helping the head office QS get an idea of the level of work progress without having to visit the site.
I use my smartphone camera to take photos and record videos where possible. These I then transfer to my laptop for further processing and sharing with the head office on Google Drive.
Other essentials in my construction site visit list are project drawings, blank bills of quantities and previous meeting minutes/notes, depending on the purpose of the visit. I carry either hardcopy booklets or soft copies in my smartphone’s storage.
Although the contractor is supposed to keep a copy of these in the site office, I still carry my copies. Besides, the project has only one cluster project management office catering to the whole site, there are no offices in the sub-sites.
Previous meeting minutes and site inspection notes help us to track whether the actionable items discussed on-site have been worked on by the responsible parties.
In addition, I carry a small bag where I put the project drawings, bills of quantities, notebooks and pens, measuring tapes and other essentials. When there is a possibility of going too far and not being able to come back home the same day, I tuck in the bag my laptop, mouse, mouse pad and earphones in case I need them to work away from home/office.
Also, inside the bag I put a bottle of water, an umbrella (during rainy days) and a jacket (in case it gets cold) to keep myself hydrated, dry and warm.
Construction site visits are important trips we make to the site to assess the quality of work, general progress and level of mobilization of materials to prepare interim valuations or project financial appraisals.
Site safety requirements have to be met for anyone to be admitted to an active construction site. Therefore, personal protective equipment (PPE) is vital and has to be worn all the time. The basics include a hard hat (also known as a helmet), safety boots and a reflector jacket.
Another important everyday carry to a site visit includes measurement and record-keeping tools such as measuring tapes, notebooks and pens, a camera and a smartphone.
Also, project documents such as drawings, schedules, bills of quantities and minutes are required depending on the nature of the visit and planned meeting.
It is also important to remember to take good care of yourself by tagging along personal care stuff such as your water bottle, umbrella and jacket depending on the general weather conditions that day.
In this article, I have shared with you what I consider the essentials that I carry when I am going for a construction site visit. Is there anything important to you that I have missed? Let me know in the comments below.