Ever wondered what it takes to build the best sporting grounds in the country? Three surveyors talk buildings and football.
'The credit crunch has had a big effect on construction sites’
Quinton Dreyer, 29, a chartered quantity surveyor, joined Crane cost consultants, based in South Africa, in January, after five years working for AYH, the costs consultants on Arsenal’s Emirates stadium. He’s currently working on the new 45,000-capacity stadium in Port Elizabeth, built principally for the football World Cup in 2010, and due for completion early next year.
My role is to take care of quantities, check materials on site, and be the on-site representative for the five quantity surveyors involved in this project. Each one has been apportioned a part of the job, such as groundwork, piling, concreted structure, and roadworks. During the day, I’m based in the site office and walking around the site signing off materials as they arrive: this may be steelwork, pre-cast concrete and other materials. I also have to go through what are called site instructions, and see if they have cost implications. For example, an instruction might be given to the contractor to use a specific paint or type of tiles in an area. I then need to check if that is a confirmation of something that was originally in the contract, or a variation, which might have a cost implication. The credit crunch has had a big effect on construction sites. The cost of materials, such as steel, and fuel have rocketed, so we’re seeing a lot of budget overruns on steelwork and balustrading, which has blown the budget to smithereens. But there are provisions in the contract for fluctuations like this.
'Because of the different people involved, stadium projects can be complex'
Stephen Jepson, 32, a chartered building surveyor, is a partner in the sport sector of Drivers Jonas, the construction consultancy with, among other things, a pedigree as project managers on new football stadia. Current and recent examples include new grounds for Southampton, Stoke City, Colchester United and Middlesbrough football clubs.
The role we perform on stadia projects is project management, and building surveyors often have a good grounding in all the specialist areas, since their traditional role is to survey existing buildings. It’s fair to see building surveyors as generalists. We are often involved on feasibility study work, assessing a few sites and deciding which is most suitable, bringing in aspects such as planning, transport and working out overall costs. At the end we’ll come up with a feasibility study. And then we’ll often be retained in the role of project management when the stadium is built, which involves overseeing the whole process and knitting together all the consultants. Stadium projects, even though they are usually quite simple buildings, can be quite complicated projects because of all the different people involved: from the owner, often a council, to the club that’ll be using it, and then there’s highways and planning authorities, and all the bodies involved in issuing a safety certificate for its use: police, fire, ambulance, etc. The thing I like most is starting at the beginning of the project with people’s dreams, but also ultimately making sure they don’t get carried away and ensuring they still build something they can afford.
‘I really enjoy working on high-profile projects that people have heard of’
James Woodrough, 36, a chartered quantity surveyor, has worked for the international construction consultancy, Davis Langdon, for 19 years. Now a partner in the firm’s sports sector, he’s engaged on Liverpool Football Club’s new stadium, for which Davis Langdon are project managers and cost consultants. Work is due to start on site by the end of the year.
On stadium projects, we specialise in giving high-value early advice. In general, the quantity surveyor estimates the cost of the building for the client, and, as the design develops, we control the costs to make sure they don’t exceed what’s in the contract. We also manage the materials procurement process during the building process. At the very early stage, our estimates could be based on the surface area or number of seats. As you get more information on paper from more detailed designs, you start to make estimates based on specific measurements. On large and international projects, the materials and products are internationally sourced, so you don’t see much difference on cost between different geographical locations. But labour costs do vary from place to place. I really enjoy this job for two reasons. First, I like working on high profile projects that people have heard of and are in the papers. It’s great to read about your work in the media. And second, the interesting thing about sports projects is that they are generally buildings that people really want to go to, unlike railway stations or hotels.