ASSESSMENT OF VARIATION CAUSED BY BUILDING CONSULTANTS IN CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY OF NIGERIA
1.0 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The living standard in Nigeria generated many development opportunities in the manufacturing and building sectors. The satellite towns have accelerated as a result of high population growth. Large and complex projects have been built attracting contractors from all over the world. Most of these contractors appear to lack sufficient understanding of social, cultural and physical environment of Nigeria. This situation coupled with inexperienced consultants has led to inadequate design resulting in many changes to plans, specifications and contract terms. A construction contract is a business that is subject to variability Variation quality or quantity of the works as shown upon the contract drawings and described by or referred to in the contract bills. This includes the addition, omission or substitution of any (minor) work or the alteration of the type or standard of any materials or good to be used in the works and the removal from the site of any work materials or goods executed or brought thereupon by the contractor for the purposes of the works.
Variation as contained in the standard form of building contract in Nigeria (SFBCN) is defined as the modification of design or quantity of work as shown upon the contract drawings and described by or referred to in the contract bills. It includes addition, omission or substitution of any works. Its importance in the preparation of final account is further ascertained by Agbo (1993) who claimed that variations would occur in virtually every contract. Even though it could arise from the client, designers, contractors among other, the condition of the contract only empowers the Architect to issue variation orders, hence the attribution of variation in most cases to the Architect. Under clause 11.2 of the SFBCN, 1990 variations may arise under
- Circumstances that could not have been reasonably foreseen before signing the contract.
- Additional requirement by the employer.
- Compliance with government order or legislation.
- Correction of errors or omission in the contract drawings and contract bills.
- Non-availability of materials and goods specified in the contract.
- Substitution of materials, goods and workmanship specified in the contract.
Unfortunately, apart from the fact that any of these causes will affect the original contract sum, Udeh (1991) and Giwa (1988) submitted that consultants were in the habit of abusing the clause while for some it has become a face saving device for the inadequacies in their output especially design details, others are fond of issuing variation order so that their professional fees will also increase since a proportion of the fees is based on the final cost of construction. They further identified inadequate brief, design inconclusiveness, inadequate pre-contract planning, non-availability of materials labour specified for the work, unforeseen conditions and discrepancy between two or more contract documents and client’s intentions as the major factors causing variation.
Construction clauses relating to changes allow parties involved in the contract to freely initiate variation orders within the ambit of the scope of the works without alteration and substitution in the terms of the original contract..