Summer Newsletter 2022

In this issue:

Martin Arnold Named “Leading Chartered Surveyors & Construction Consultancy”

Martin Arnold is delighted to announce that, once again, we have been named as the Winner in the “Leading Chartered Surveyors and Construction Consultancy” category of BUILD’s annual Design & Build Awards.

We are extremely proud of the fact that our team’s hard work over the past 12 months has been acknowledged by a magazine with global reach, putting us on par with other award winners spanning from Shanghai to Dubai.

The fact that we have managed to achieve this award in two consecutive years, during a period where the pandemic and rising inflation has put much pressure on all who work within the built environment, is a testament to our team’s dedication and our drive to go the extra mile to help our clients achieve their goals.

BUILD is a digital publication based in the UK which focuses on architecture, interior design, and construction. The annual Design & Build Awards winners are selected by BUILD Magazine’s in-house research team with recipients determined by an internal process of research, analysis, shortlisting and selection.

Leamington Court Demonstrates The Benefits of Effective Resident Engagement

Martin Arnold were appointed as Architect, Contract Administrator, Clerk of Works and Principal Designer for the replacement of all combustible elements within the external wall and for a full improvement of all internal firestopping to the 11 stories. All residents were to remain in-situ whilst the works were to be undertaken.

The block consisted of 58 apartments which were a mix of general needs and leasehold, all possessing a balcony which, for the most part, was affixed to a separate steel frame on the flanks of the building. A car park surrounded the building with the road leading from the top of Restell Close to a dead end and pedestrian access to the train station.

We developed a detailed specification of works and drawings for tender, we prepared a full planning application due to the building’s proximity to the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site boundary.  As part of our appointment, we produced the JCT contract and administered and delivered the scheme to our client’s satisfaction. Construction quality was monitored throughout the build by our expert site inspectors who coordinated inspections right up to handover using our gridline system. As per our client’s request, we had engaged 2 separate fire specialists to sign off the internal and external firestopping to which we coordinated, and continually assessed throughout the project.

Martin Arnold were integral in delivering the project to ensure the works were completed to the highest quality.

The first, and arguably most difficult, challenge was to organise the site set up which was highlighted early on but could not be resolved without contractor input. The primary issue was that our client did not own the land surrounding the residential block and could not request the parking bays without resident permission which proved to be an obstacle. To circumvent this, we proposed a floating gantry which spanned the car park allowing residents to keep their parking bays and providing a much-needed staging platform to deliver and store materials.

As the residents were provided limited space within the block to store large items, the client felt it was necessary to reinstate the pram stores. The fire consultants were initially against this idea as managing these areas would prove to be a residual risk as the Housing Association would need to be able to access every pram store to ensure no flammable materials are stored inside. After much discussion this was overcome, and an ongoing management strategy was put in place.

We proposed a new design for the pram stores ensuring that each one was entirely compartmentalised and would provide 60 minutes fire protection from smoke and flame including new riser doors with drop seals. The new design was approved by the third-party fire consultants and were installed on site to the approval of the residents.

Martin Arnold Celebrates Staff Promotions

At Martin Arnold, we believe that our people are our greatest asset. As such, we are delighted to announce that the following members of the MA team have been promoted:

  • Dr. Alex Arthur (Associate)
  • Janice Gilbert (Associate)
  • Joe Evans (Associate)
  • Simba Matapo (Associate)
  • Tanvir Snotra (Associate)
  • Keith Bowler (Principal)

Each of these promotions have been made in recognition of the significant contributions each person has made to Martin Arnold’s continued achievements. Each has demonstrated commitment in becoming experts in their respective fields and passion in applying that expertise to ensure that our Clients achieve their ambitions.

These appointments are a reflection of each person’s exemplary work at Martin Arnold, and their willingness to “Go the Extra Mile” to ensure enduring success for Martin Arnold. Their leadership and willingness to share their knowledge with junior members of staff has helped to bolster skill sets within Martin Arnold and resulted in their growing, and deserved, influence within the company.

Dr Alex Arthur joined Martin Arnold in 2019, having previously worked for other London based multi-disciplinary practices. He is a chartered project management surveyor with extensive industry and academic expertise in project delivery. He is a fellow of the RICS, an examiner of their Assessment of Professional Competency programme. As a Chartered Project Manager Surveyor, he is also a member of the Association of Project Managers. Alex is also an industry researcher and author. His latest publication is entitled “Construction Risk Management Decision Making, understanding current practices.”

Keith Bowler joined Martin Arnold in 2017, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience gained during his 40 years in the Construction Industry and has now been promoted to Principal Surveyor, specialising in Quantity Surveying. As a Chartered Quantity Surveyor, Keith leads his own team of surveyors providing a broad and diverse spectrum of pre-construction and construction stage services on a varying portfolio of projects from inception to completion.

Joe Evans is a Chartered Building Surveyor and Incorporated Member of the Association of Project Safety who joined Martin Arnold as a Trainee in 2012. Joe possesses specialist skills in new-build residential development, contract administration and contract mechanisms advice. Joe also has experience in Construction Management and residential refurbishment projects.

Janice Gilbert joined the practice in 2016 and has 13 years’ experience in a HR role. Janice is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development. She also holds a Certificate as a Mental Health First Aider with MFHA England. She provides an efficient, effective and customer focussed HR service which supports all aspects of an employee’s relationship and engagement with Martin Arnold.

Simba Matapo joined Martin Arnold as a Graduate Quantity Surveyor in 2015 and achieved his RICS Chartership status in 2019. Simba has a broad experience in New Build residential projects, specialising in the Employer’s Agent and Cost Management roles. As a Chartered Surveyor, Simba currently leads his own team that provides a range of cost-based services at all stages of the development process. As well as providing clients with advice and assisting with tendering and procurement strategies.

Tanvir Snotra first joined Martin Arnold on a work experience placement in 2007. Upon graduating, Tanvir re-joined Martin Arnold as Graduate Quantity Surveyor in 2014 and qualified as a Chartered Quantity Surveyor in 2019. Tanvir has worked extensively on commercial schemes and has built comprehensive expertise in administering bespoke commercial lease agreements and providing financial cost reporting for Cat A/B budget and TI contributions. Tanvir is also leading and collaborating closely with the Directors in innovating Martin Arnold’s cost estimating and cost planning services and launching a new set of benchmark data across all Sectors.

Pembroke House – Delivering Shared Ownership With Style

Martin Arnold has assisted Surrey Heath Borough Council, Berkeley Homes and Clarion Housing Group in delivering 25 new affordable homes for shared ownership, located approximately 1.5km to the southwest of Camberley Town Centre in Watchetts Ward at the southern gateway to the Frimley Road shopping area.

The development comprised the demolition of the existing building and the erection of a four-storey building to provide 25 modern and energy-efficient one and two bed apartments, each provided with a stylish kitchen and an allocated parking space. A flexible commercial floorspace at ground floor level has been leased by the Co-Op, providing the neighbourhood with a convenient supermarket for their day-to-day needs. In addition, the scheme benefits from associated car and cycle parking, amenity space, refuse storage, landscaping and other associated works.

Martin Arnold’s engagement at Pembroke House consisted of Employer’s Agent, Clerk of Work, cost consultancy services from inception of the scheme through to completion. Construction quality was monitored throughout the build by our expert site inspectors who coordinated inspections right up to handover with the client’s development team. Martin Arnold played an integral part in delivery of this project to ensure the scheme delivered on time and within budget.

Delays in getting gas and water connection caused a delay in testing and obtaining certification which was essential for handing over the units. Martin Arnold worked closely with the developer to ensure that handover was achieved without delay to Practical Completion and within the client’s required time frames.

Martin Arnold Rides Again

Martin Arnold are once again proud to be supporting the Royal British Legion Industries (RBLI) with their annual Ride with a Veteran event over the weekend on the 15th and 16th of July.

Our team will consist of Jim Martin, Tom Hopkins, David Powell, Chris Los, Sam Risby and Alastair Crundwell.

We shall be setting off on Friday 15th July for our 150-mile journey through the Kent countryside on Day 1 before boarding a ferry and heading over to France and Belgium to complete Day 2, finishing at the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing in Ypres where we will attend the Last Post Ceremony. After two years of cycling from Aylesford to the National Cycling Memorial near Birmingham, it will be a welcome return to Europe.

As always, the ride offers a wonderful opportunity to ride with the Veterans of the charity and hear their stories whilst raising a fantastic sum of money for the RBLI. With every penny raised, Royal British Legion Industries can provide safe, warm housing and ensure everyone has a fair opportunity to gain employment, regardless of health conditions or disability.

Team MA have our very own Just Giving page where Jim, Tom and the team have been updating the blog with their training pictures as we head towards July!

More information about the charity can be found at the RBLI’s website.

Tender Prices & Market Commentary

In our March newsletter the significant increases in build cost as a result of the invasion of Ukraine were just becoming apparent. As we are all aware, this has continued and is now a dominant feature in the construction market.

The BCIS have updated their forecast and are reporting an increase in tender costs across the last calendar year of over 9% with almost a further 5% inflation across the next calendar year. Their long-term forecasting rates have increased by 3.5% compared to when we reported in March. Their Building Cost Index, which tracks Contractor Input costs more closely, shows starker figures with a 13% increase across the past calendar year.

Looking forward, the leading forecasts still have further increases in costs over this year. However, most are now starting to take a more negative view on 2023 and are anticipating an economic slowdown which will, in turn, naturally check the increase in costs.

That said, contractor pricing, risk, supply chain influence, fluctuations, and inflation are still the dominant talking points in the industry and potentially for the foreseeable future.

For context, contractors are still evidently nervous about the impact of ‘super’ inflation and the ongoing supply shortages of various materials and/or sub-contractors. Whilst clients would sooner not bring in price fluctuation clauses or similar, they are faced with paying significant sums for main contractors to bear the risk under a fixed price D&B arrangement.

This, in turn, is pushing clients over the viability limit on live / committed schemes, given that construction premiums are so high and putting pressure on thresholds that previously gave comfort with regards to Value for Money (VFM).

It is considered to be one of the most difficult and volatile times for tendering, particularly through D&B procurement, for both clients and contractors. More now than ever, we are experiencing difficulty in assembling contractor lists for tenders, particularly single stage. This will start to re-shape how we procure certain projects in the future. The last few tenders received have seen a much higher resistance from contractors on higher risk-based items where material purchasing is volatile and/or sub-contractors are offering limitations to package pricing. Some contractors are showing a separate line for inflation in their returns and others are just building in a higher level of margin across certain packages to cover off some risk. In addition to this, we are seeing regular ‘re-negotiation’ led by contractors during the later stages of contract settlement.

Having spoken to many Tier One and Tier Two contractors, there is strong feeling that ‘fluctuation’ clauses or something similar will be pushed back into contracts. Although there will be resistance from the client side, we think it is inevitable that this will happen, and we are already seeing clients agreeing new bespoke clauses that offer a restricted approach to fluctuations on specific packages and activities. The compromise may be restricting the clauses to specific packages or specific materials and possibilities of working on a ‘cost plus’ basis.

Clients will need to think differently about their budgets and accept that there will be adjustment against the agreed lump sum.

VFM is always relevant to the point in time of the market and therefore as long as the price is in line with what the market is offering, you can always satisfy VFM. However, this doesn’t change the fact that you will be paying more for the same build as you would have done, say, 6 or 12 months ago.

Sadly, construction costs never seem to go back down after they have risen.

So, in summary, we are seeing:

  • An increase in construction costs and reliance on client goodwill,
  • Costs being influenced through the impact of Covid, Brexit and the war in Ukraine,
  • A rise in contractor insolvency,
  • The introduction of bespoke fluctuation clauses,
  • The operation of share ranges on specific packages (like NEC), through open book accounting or cost plus arrangements,
  • A change in client procurement through an increase in two stage tenders or direct negotiations,
  • The enhancement of tender packs, which will also be driven by the Building Safety Bill.

To conclude, clients that want to develop are building stronger relationships with key contractors to make themselves more attractive to work with. The clients that are able to be most agile will be more successful in development over the coming months and years.

Martin Arnold’s Drinks Reception in Brighton

We have always regarded our Drinks Reception at CIH Brighton as one of the highlights of the Martin Arnold year and so we have missed our annual seaside excursion after Covid forced our absence for three long years.

Last month, we were elated to be able to welcome our clients and colleagues, new and old alike, to join us at the Grand Hotel for canapés, conversation, and a cold drink or two.

We were delighted that so many of you were able to join us and would like to thank you all for helping us to celebrate our long-awaited return to the coast. In fact, the event was such a rousing success that we have already begin making plans for next year’s reception so keep an eye on our newsletter for details when we are able to share them.

We will see you again in 2023!