Another important point is that after the architect has obtained the consent of the building authorities, and also the approval of the client, then he may have to fight the adjoining owners with regard to ancient lights, or air space, or party walls. In the city of London these last difficulties often mean the suspension of the work for a long time, and a great loss to the client.
If the site is a large one, or the nature of the soil uncertain, trial holes should be sunk directly the sketch plans are approved. (See Foundations.)
Where the property is leasehold there are always at this stage negotiations as to obtaining the approval of the senior lessors and the freeholders; these having been obtained, the architect is then free to serve the various notices that may be required re party walls, etc.
The contract plans should be very carefully prepared, and sections, plans and elevations of all parts of the buildings and the levels from a datum line be given. In addition to the general set of drawings, larger scale details of the principal portions of the building should be given.
If there are any existing buildings on the site these should be carefully surveyed and accurate detail plans be made for reference; this is especially necessary with regard to easements and rights of adjoining owners. Also in the preparation of the site plan the various levels of the ground should be shown.
The plans having been approved by all parties concerned, the next operation is the preparation of the specification. This is a document which describes the materials to be used in the building, states how they are to be mixed, and how the various works are to be executed, and specifies every trade, and every portion of work in the building. The specification is necessary to enable the builder to erect the structure according to the architect's requirements, and is written by the architect; usually two copies of this document are made, one for the builder, the other for the architect, and the latter is signed as the contract copy in the same manner as the drawings.
From the specification and drawings usually an approximate estimate of the cost of the proposed building is prepared by the architect, and the most general method adopted is to cube the building by a multiplication of the length, breadth and height of the building, and to multiply the product or cubic contents by a price ranging from fivepence to three shillings per cubic foot. In the case of churches, chapels and schools, the cost may be roughly computed by taking the number of seats at a price per seat. In the case of churches and chapels, taking a minimum area of 8 ft. each, the cost varies from £10 upwards, the difference being due to the amount of architectural embellishment or the addition of a tower. Schools may be estimated as averaging £9 per scholar; we find that, taking schools of various sizes erected by the late London School Board, their cost varied from £7:12:4 to £10:1:10 per scholar. Hospitals vary from £100 per bed upwards, the lowest cost being taken from a cottage hospital type; while in the case of St Thomas's hospital, London, the cost per bed, including the proportion of the administrative block, was £650, and without this portion the wards alone cost £250. The Herbert hospital at Woolwich cost only £320 per bed.
The bills of quantities are prepared by the quantity surveyor, and are generally made to form part of the contract, and so mentioned in "the contract." The work of the quantity surveyor is to measure from the drawings the whole of the materials required for the structure, and state the amounts or quantities of the respective materials in the form of a bill usually made out on foolscap paper specially ruled, so that the builders can price each item, together with the labour required to work and fix it, thus forming the building. The idea is to be able to arrive at a lump sum for which the builders will undertake to erect the building. It is of frequent occurrence, in fact it occurs in four-fifths of building contracts, that when a building is commenced, the client, or other interested person, will alter some portion, thereby causing deviations from the bills of quantities. By having the prices of the different materials before him, it is easy for the quantity surveyor to remeasure the portion altered, adding or deducting as the case may be, and thus to ascertain what difference the alteration makes. This method of bills of quantities and prices is absolutely necessary to any one about to build, and means a considerable saving to the client in the end.
For example: - Suppose that bills of quantities are not prepared for a certain job by a quantity surveyor, and, as is often done, the drawings and specification are sent to several builders asking them for a quotation to build the house or factory or whatever it may be, according to the drawings and specification. The prices are duly sent in to the architect, and probably the lowest price is accepted and the successful builder starts the job. During the progress of the works certain alterations take place by the owner's instructions, and when the day of settlement comes, the builder puts in his claim for "extras," then owing to the alterations and to the architect having no prices to work upon, litigation often ensues.
Before the work of erecting a structure is entrusted to a builder he has to sign a contract in the same manner as the drawings and specification. This contract is an important document wherein the builder agrees to carry out the work for a stated sum of money, in accordance with the drawings and specification, and bills of quantities, and instructions of the architect, and to his entire satisfaction; and it also states the description of the materials and workmanship, and the manner of carrying out the work, responsibilities of the builder, particularly clauses indemnifying the employer against accidents to employees, and against numerous other risks, the time of completion of works under a penalty for non-completion (the usual allowance being made for bad weather, fire or strikes), and also how payments will be made to the builder as he proceeds with the building. This form of contract is generally prepared by the architect, and varies in part as may be necessary to meet the requirements of the case.