This month saw the publication of IStructE’s Plan of Work which complements RIBA’s Plan of Work, considered the UK model of building design and construction process. We have looked at the Plan of Work to compare it with the way we work and how our process and values fit into this new guidance. We are pleased to report that SWJ Consulting are already implementing the best of its recommendations for best practice.  

The Plan of Work is broken down into a table that covers four stages of work – briefing, design, delivery and evaluation. Within those stages are seven parts of the process:  

0. Strategic definition 

1. Preparation and brief 

2. Concept design 

3. Spatial coordination 

4. Technical design  4.5 Product Information  

5. Manufacture and construction  

6. Handover 

7. Use 

Within each of these stages and parts of the process, there are 10 considerations, with notes on each.  

1. Contingency Assessment 

2. Design 

3. Interface 

4. Construction 

5. Management 

6. Statutory requirements 

7. Stage Outputs 

8. Information exchange 

9. Collaboration requirements 

10. Design assurance 

The IStructE Plan of Work was designed to clearly define the roles of structural engineers on building projects while delivering efficiencies and clarity for clients. 

At SWJ Consulting we go to great pains to explain to both professional and private clients our role within a project. We have recently printed a guide to using a structural engineer to help private clients understand when they might need a structural engineer and what the process is. SWJ Consulting are used to working in the design and build environment delivering efficiencies by value engineering every aspect of design. Read our series on value engineering 

Rob Paul of WSP wrote an article giving five reasons how the IStructE Plan of Work will deliver real improvements for both members and clients, which we are proud to say we already include in our process, all of which can be found in our blog What you are paying for when you work with SWJ Consulting – Is our quote for your commercial project more expensive? 

Rob Paul’s benefits include 

Clarity on scope –  

We ensure we understand the brief from the outset and then provide a quote and stand by it. When comparing quotes, it’s important to understand what is included; a scope of works that is delivered for the least amount of money may not include extras: additional site visits, 3D modelling, amends and alterations. We look to include everything we would need to deliver a project into our quote, this is to offer peace of mind to our clients and safeguard both them and the end-user.  

Clarification of sub-contractor designed elements –

When it comes to specifying any product, we encourage our clients to ask the question of the manufacturer as to why a price might be more competitive, and the implications of any variation in spec. We also encourage clients to run quotes past us and we’ll let them know whether a saving is genuine. We will always consider the implications and are happy to look at the different options available to help the client’s budgets. 

We really want to avoid client’s cherry picking the best prices and then wondering why it doesn’t all fit together, which may cost more in the long run.   Read more about our pricing ethos here.

Early engagement in the project lifecycle  –

The importance of getting everything right, at the right stages, is why SWJ Consulting does not cut corners, that is what is reflected in our process and our quotes. Completing projects in these clear stages means we are protecting the success of the project, the budget, and the client. Not identifying issues early on, because of a lack of investigation, research or asking the right questions makes clients vulnerable to additional cost and delays.  

Aligned level of delivery detail  –

From the agreed sketches we will develop the design with the incorporation of any comments. At this point, 3D modelled drawings can be shared with all stakeholders and more information on timescales can also be shared.   

The value of 3D drawings is that the client and architect can see how elements such as columns or arches can affect the space. They can then see if the actual size of the elements will, for example, foul the furniture layout. This is the client’s last chance to make any changes required.  

We will be reading the IStructE Plan of Works in more detail and improving our processes accordingly. Rob’s final point was that it is procurement neutral and so we are confident that every structural engineering practice will benefit from having a specific plan of works written for the industry regardless of where they are in the world.