The contractors initial work

The contractor's agent will probably come to site with a small nucleus of permanent employees, and his main aim will be to get started on the actual work of construction as soon as possible. He will have to visit the local employment office or employment agencies to make arrangements for taking men on site. The agent will find it necessary to have some clerical assistance on site from the start; for preference his site co-ordinator and office manager will accompany him and will start getting to site a wide variety of equipment, machinery and materials. Some of this will be sent out from the plant and equipment depot of the contractor's head office, but a large amount of supplementary equipment may be required from local sources. Consumables will be required: a term meaning all those things - picks, shovels, tools, fuel, timber, office stationery, protective clothing, lighting equipment, temporary fencing, furniture, canteen equipment and a legion of other items - which are not plant nor large items of re-usable equipment. A visit to the local bank manager may be necessary to make arrangements for withdrawing money for cash payments.

Plant may have to be hired for the work of digging trenches to lay water supply and drainage, and a dozer for site clearance. A gang of men may have to be set fencing off the site area, another gang on making foundations for huts, and a third gang on access road requirements. A site engineer will quickly be necessary for the setting out of levels and for producing sketches so as to direct the foremen and gangers what to do.

The agent will need to start arranging for delivery to site some of the materials required for early incorporation in the works, particularly the aggregates proposed for concrete, or samples of ready-mix from local suppliers. Such samples will have to be made into cubes and tested. This sampling and testing can take a long time, so must be started early if good quality concrete is required early on the job. The agent may visit - probably with the resident engineer - local suppliers of ready-mix concrete to observe their quality control, and to discuss rates of supply and qualities of concrete required.

It depends on the location of the site, the standing of the agent, and the policy of the contractor, how far materials for use in the works are ordered by the agent or by the contractor's head office. The supply of major materials for which head office already possess quotations would probably be ordered by head office. But the agent may need to order some supplies locally. He will probably seek to avoid entering long-term supply agreements with a new supplier for materials until he is confident the supplier will not default on deliveries or on quality of materials supplied.

It sometimes requires the combined efforts of the agent and resident engineer to get early installation of services such as telephones, power lines, sewer connections and water supply. On overseas projects the procurement of local materials, and the checking and steering of imported materials through customs often forms a major departmental function within the contractor's local organization.

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