SA Affordable Housing July / August 2018 // Issue: 71 - Page 10

ASSOCIATIONS Principal agents make or break projects Successful completion of building projects largely depends on the competence of the principal agent and it is essential that this key role player is properly equipped to handle this vital role. “P oor principal agency functioning is increasingly causing disputes and disruptions in South African building projects. In many cases, the appointed agent does not have the necessary experience and is erroneously appointed,” says Uwe Putlitz, CEO of the Joint Building Contracts Committee (JBCC). “There is no specialised training course or recognised qualification that a principal agent must complete. But to properly fulfil his or her duties, the agent must at the least have a Bachelor’s degree in architecture, building science, engineering or quantity surveying. It is also necessary for the agent to have professional registration with a statutory body such as the South African Council for the Project and Construction Management Professions.” The training is vital – and so is the personality traits of the principal agent. “This is not a job for the meek and mild, nor the disorganised. Effective principal agents should be able to deal with all involved with the contract authoritatively and methodically. Contract administration requires the management of a vast amount information in a manner where it can be retrieved and monitored at short notice, using the appropriate technological aids to suit the nature of a project.” In carrying out the agency function, the principal agent must ensure that: 1. The parties to the contract have complied with legal and tender formalities; 2. The construction team have timeously been issued with all relevant construction information; 3. The construction team work at the required pace to complete the project by the specified date; 4. The construction team achieve specified quality standards; 5. The construction team is paid fairly – and on time – for work correctly completed; 6. Non-compliant aspects of the works are promptly dealt with as they arise; 7. Potential claims for a revision of the date for ractical completion is handled timeously; 8. Potential claims for an adjustment of the contract value is also promptly dealt with; and 9. The project is concluded as specified, all administrative and other compliance certificates are recorded, and all parties are paid their due. The principal agent must act proactively to avoid potential disputes. This requires regular monitoring of the execution of the works, liaison with all stakeholders, and dealing with all claims competently and within the time constraints of the standard form contract used. Here, the second professional obligation of the principal agent as laid down in court comes to the fore when the employer may have expectations not provided for in the contract documentation. 8 JULY - AUGUST 2018 AFFORDABLE SA HOUSING