The world of practical completions and handovers is a tough place to navigate when you’re a contractor. That’s because the line between the two is often blurred – leading to confusion and frustration in equal measure. With that in mind, how are the two different – and when does one begin and the other end?
Do you have to complete all building works before practical completion is achieved?
Handover can begin as soon as work is substantially complete and once the asset (for example, a building) is safe to use).
Once practical completion is reached, what are the risks and responsibilities?
At handover, the building owner will pay for works completed. But you’ll need to come back and complete any outstanding jobs later.
Within seven days, you will need to:
Inspections don’t end when construction is completed. That’s why a building’s systems must be carefully reviewed, tested, and signed-off before handover.
Overall, site inspections should be impartial, data-driven, and never personal (tempting though it might be to level the score by punishing Dave in quality management for parking in your space last week).
Which building services should be signed off before handover?
Ventilation, heating, boilers, air conditioning, renewable energy, and security systems are just some of the services requiring sign-off before handover.
How are responsible parties tracked prior to handover?
Manual inspection forms and checklists will be used alongside digital auditing tools to create a trail. During this process, snags will be identified and logged so that all parties are clear on outstanding actions.
Once the handover is complete, building owners can move in. But the contractor is still responsible for addressing defects for 6-12 months. This is known as the ‘defects liability period.’
What happens at the end of the defects liability period?
Once this period has expired, a final inspection of the works will be carried out. If the responsible person is satisfied, they’ll issue what’s called ‘the certificate of making good defects.’
What if a soft landings framework was required by the client?
Then you’ll need to provide extended aftercare for a period of three years – which begins once the building is occupied.
Handover occurs once a project is complete. As mentioned, this doesn’t mean all tasks are complete – so you may be called back to complete outstanding jobs or rectify defects. This stage is about instilling confidence in the client – so they feel confident forward.
How can you ensure the handover goes smoothly?
Before the project begins, ask your client:
What sort of documents are required at handover?
This will depend on the size of the project. It could include O&M documents, health and safety files, or handover packs – and number in the hundreds. If the idea of manually planning and creating is causing you to break into a sweat – worry not. Because that’s where we come in (more on that later).
During the handover, the following items should be issued to the client:
The health and safety file must be given to the client at the practical completion stage of the project. It should include important information about maintenance, operations, any alterations, and more.
What information goes into the health and safety file?
This will depend on the scope of the project. You will need to agree with the client which inclusions are required before the project commences.
Generally, it will contain information about:
Is there anything I can exclude from the health and safety file?
Anything without bearing on future construction work can be omitted from the health and safety file. Permissible exclusions might include contractual documents, construction phase plans, and COSHH assessments.
O&M documents – also referred to as the building owner’s manual – stores data pivotal to the maintenance, operation, demolition, and decommissioning of a structure.
O&M manuals include:
Who is responsible for compiling the O&M manual?
Preparation is the responsibility of the contractor or sub-contractor (lucky you). Designers, engineers, and suppliers will also need to contribute.
When can the final operation & maintenance manual be submitted?
Not for several months. A draft version must be created first – so that seasonal readings can be recorded while the building is fully occupied.
In some cases, preparing a building user guide and logbook is wise – because it will serve as a guide for managers, maintenance teams, and external contractors. The document should assume no prior knowledge on the users’ part and employ clear accessible language.
These documents might include:
The meaning of the term ‘decommissioning’ will vary depending on the contractor. But, in general terms, it refers to the demolition of a structure. A plan must be formalised and agreed upon – and surveys completed – before work can begin.
This list is not definitive and the process must be monitored and evaluated to ensure successful completion.
In the works order or contract issued by your client, there will be a clause. It will define what certification or documentation should be provided at handover.
In most cases, these files would be issued with your final accounts and O&M manuals. But O&Ms can also be sent in phases prior to final accounts – for example, if multiple trades are involved.
From a legal standpoint, you must abide by:
Most trades are regulated by an accreditation body. This is to ensure procedures and processes are properly completed within each specific field of construction.
Larger accreditation bodies also exist that span multiple trades throughout the construction industry. Each will have its own unique way of logging works and submitting handover documents – making things that little bit harder for contractors (which is where we come in – a point we’ll get to shortly).
Some trades are more important than others when it comes to safety. The outcome of poorly installed electrics doesn’t bear thinking about, for example. This is why such jobs need to be commissioned and certified without exception.
Critical trades include, but aren’t limited to:
The handover process for critical trades will affect the amount of detail that goes into documents too – such as warranties, guarantees, and O&M manuals.
Digital documents can be compiled, branded, amended, and duplicated with minimal effort (plus – they’re always in the cloud, so you won’t need to panic if you lose the hard copy on the train).
A digital system will require less effort on the part of your teams – meaning they can concentrate on other important tasks that might otherwise affect the efficiency and productivity of your business.
It’s also important to make the right first impression with a client. Would you rather hand over a USB stick and some weighty folders or email them a slick branded product that shows how tech-savvy you are?
Our cloud-based system is highly effective on its own. When combined with simPRO, there’s nothing quite like it. Want to pull all your information through in one go and without copying and pasting? No problem. Just enter your simPRO job number. It’s that easy.
Do you really want to spend hours searching for information and attachments once the completion paperwork has been requested by your client? In an ideal world, you’d prefer to start adding that data from day one – so everything was ready on time. That’s where Dokkit comes in: a digital system designed to save you, your teams, and clients time you can’t afford to waste.
The information you need already exists. The objective is to prepare, collate, assemble (and even update) that data with minimal manual intervention. That’s why it’s so important to invest in tools that let you create and amend fully compliant O&M manuals, user guides, and technical submittals with ease.
Dokkit is one of a small range of online tools construction businesses can use to save time, money, and safeguard client relationships.
What makes our cloud-based system a better bet than rival systems out there in the digital space? Here are three reasons to choose us over them.
If you’re local, let’s grab a coffee and talk. If you’re not, then…let’s grab a coffee and talk anyway. We’d love to learn more about your business and make life a little easier for you.