Reference Criteria for Consulting Services
for Infrastructure Projects

Organization of American States
General Secretariat
Unit for Sustainable Development and Environment

USAID-OAS Caribbean Disaster Mitigation Project
September 1999

This report was adapted by Leonard Shorey from the Manual for Consulting Services for Infrastructure Projects, with the permission of Mr. Tony Gibbs, Consulting Engineers Partnership Ltd., Barbados

Table of Contents

Executive Summary


Part 1: Guidelines for Owners

Part II: Guidelines for Maintenance

Part III: Notes for the Consulting Engineer


Executive Summary

Reference Criteria for Consulting Services for Infrastructure Projects is intended as a major resource document for use by Owners of infrastructure (i.e. from the ground up) projects. The document will fill a void that has long existed and provides the Owner with guidance on important aspects of the entire process from conceptualization to completion.

Part I focuses on activities directly relating to the structure itself and leads the Owner step by step through his/her responsibilities in the complex processes involved in the design and construction of a project, whether large or small. It clearly outlines the role and responsibilities of the Owner, and then indicates the kinds of resources likely to be needed.

The document considers and advises on such important matters as: procedures and criteria for selecting consultants, conditions of engagement, how best a consulting team should function and how consultants should be monitored. The document further draws attention to important components of the monitoring process and identifies specific responsibilities both of the Owner and of consultants employed. It indicates, as well, the kinds of information and feedback which the Owner should receive, and the procedures he/she should follow in ensuring that the full range of requirements is met by persons contracted for various purposes. It thus takes the Owner through various essential activities in the Construction Stage and deals as well with requirements for Maintenance and for Damage Mitigation.

A very important component of the guidance provided in the document is its emphasis on the necessity to provide against natural hazard events like hurricanes, earthquakes and torrential rains. In addition it offers specific advice as to steps which should be taken to ensure that the structure to be built is designed with these hazards in mind.

Part II is essentially a handbook on maintenance for the Owner, and sets out in detail the kinds of actions that must be taken regularly if proper maintenance of a building is to be achieved. A very important feature of this section is the detailed check-list of items to be dealt with, as well as the frequency with which specific checks should be carried out.

Part III of the document is intended for the Consulting engineer and serves to remind the Engineer of factors that need to be taken into account, especially in protecting against natural hazard events. It identifies critical aspects of engineering activity and draws attention to the specific provisions that should be borne in mind in designing against such natural hazards as hurricanes, earthquakes, torrential rain and storm surges.

Finally, the Engineer is provided with a carefully detailed and comprehensive check-list of items that need to be take into consideration in the design process. In summary, Parts I and II of the document should be studied by the Owner while Part III is intended to be guidelines for the consulting engineer, but should be studied by the owner to assist him in discussions with the Consulting Engineer.



The document Reference Criteria for Consulting Services for Infrastructure Projects is in three parts. Part I is intended for the Owner of the Construction project and his/her representatives and provides insights which might not otherwise be readily available to the owner with respect to important aspects of any construction project. Part II provides detailed guidance for the maintenance of buildings and should be of invaluable assistance to the owner. Part III is intended, in the main, for the Consulting Engineer and should serve as a useful reminder of critical matters that need to be taken into account. A useful feature of these Notes is the detailed check-list provided.

The Need for Guidance

Like other regions the Caribbean is subject to natural hazards of various kinds and it is desirable that infrastructure projects be constructed to resist these as effectively as possible, but no single document exists to provide guidance nor criteria for such construction. These guidelines are intended to meet this need. Caribbean consultants (and foreign consultants working in the Caribbean) have been educated and trained in various engineering traditions and procedures and they are generally familiar with conventions that exist outside the Caribbean region. However, in many countries within the region itself there are few, if any, clearly established conventions to guide practitioners.

In addition, many Caribbean consultants have not benefitted from extended periods of training in well-established consulting firms before going into private practice as consultants. Such persons may therefore lack the kind and quality of office and field experience which can generally be expected of consultants in countries like Canada or the UK.

Moreover, prospective owners are not usually familiar with, and are seldom knowledgeable about the detailed requirements which such consultants should meet. As a consequence, owners seldom know what to ask for, or what they should reasonably expect from their consultants, suppliers and construction contractors in terms of quality of design and construction, or what regular feedback they should receive as construction of the building proceeds.

In the existing context, with the lack of clearly detailed prescriptions for the design and construction of infrastructure projects, there have been many instances of inconsistent, unpredictable and sub-standard performance in the construction of the projects, especially with respect to adequate protection against natural hazards like torrential rains, hurricanes or earthquakes.

Political and economic pressures (i.e. the desire to reduce project costs) have also led to reduction in standards, and it is generally acknowledged that work of less-than-desirable quality may be easy to disguise in the short (or medium) term.

These recurrent shortcomings have forced conscientious practitioners, concerned owners and financiers to recognize the need for putting the execution of projects on a more orderly footing to ensure work of higher quality while at the same time guaranteeing greater accountability.

The Need for Special Attention to be Given to Natural Hazards

The problem of how best to reduce/minimize damage resulting from natural hazards like hurricanes should be one of conscious concern to owners and financiers in the Caribbean. Its importance is easily demonstrated by brief reference to the following:

The possibility and indeed the probability of occurrences of natural hazard events - severe hurricanes, earthquakes and torrential rains - are constant threats and must be taken into account in the construction of infrastructure projects.

Because of the considerable increase in the number of settlements the potential for damage has increased proportionately.

Most standards and codes in common use do not pay sufficient attention to the importance of non-structural elements, viz: doors, windows, hoods, parapets and balcony railings, electrical and mechanical systems. [Non-structural elements are those features in a building not required for the support of floors and roofs. The non-structural elements usually account for more than 70% of the value of a building.]

With appropriate design and construction techniques it is feasible to protect facilities so that they remain in operation after a natural-hazard event such as any of those identified above.

It is equally important for the Owner to be aware that protection costs (i.e. the costs of adequately protecting an existing building) are relatively small compared with the likely replacement costs of the same building. The guidance provided in this document deals principally with projects in the design stage, not with retro-fitting of existing structures. The issue of protection costs is more complex than can be presented in simple comparisons such as: new versus existing; earthquake versus wind; high rise versus low rise. Typically, protection costs are between 2% and 5% of replacement costs and can therefore be legitimately described as affordable.

In addition, insurance costs may fluctuate considerably and affordable insurance may not always be readily available. Some insurers may provide substantial reductions in the cost of premiums when hazard mitigation measures are incorporated in the design and construction.

Design standards that are enforceable are essential. For certain developments (e.g. hospitals) higher standards than those applied to the design and construction of other buildings, such as hotels, should be required. It should be noted, however, that there are few civil/structural engineering design standards that are legally enforced in the Caribbean.

Purpose of the Guidance

The purpose of the guidance provided in Part I is to:

  1. inform the owners of the experience gained from previous disasters caused by natural hazards and from studying the vulnerability of facilities so that the owners may be aware of the causes of failures of projects from extreme natural events.
  2. identify specific measures for minimizing the effects of hazards by better and more effective reparation in the overall planning of new facilities;
  3. provide help/assistance for owners and their representatives in recognizing and understanding the nature and extent of the risks/dangers to which their properties may be exposed during extreme natural events;
  4. guide owners in reducing risks through informed decision making and careful and comprehensive planning;
  5. provide formal and structured guidance on briefing consultants and monitoring their work, and on developing design criteria and preparing detailed specifications for procurement/purchase of products not involving the use of consultants;
  6. identify specific problems/issues in connection with vulnerability analysis of existing facilities (i.e. identification of the components most susceptible to damage by severe natural hazard events) and the need for retrofitting (upgrading of a structure through use of new materials and techniques not used when the building was originally constructed) when this is necessary.

Part II - Guidelines for Maintenance - provides specific guidance to the owner with respect to maintenance of structures and provides detailed instructions as to proper maintenance procedures and the frequency with which they should be carried out. In addition the owner is provided with detailed, but simple to use, check-lists which will facilitate regular and effective maintenance.

The Notes for the Consulting Engineer in Part III deal with the analysis of the vulnerability of existing works and equipment; with identifying signs of deterioration for monitoring the rate of deterioration; and with determining/assessing the adequacy of standards and criteria used in the design and construction of projects;

The Notes also suggest effective ways by which vulnerability of existing works can be reduced, to institute better maintenance practices, for on-going monitoring of structures, to set priorities for retrofitting, and to recommend performance specifications for retrofitting.

Consultants contracted by the owner should therefore be aware of the positive and on-going contribution they have to make in ensuring that the structures erected perform in a reliable and predictable manner when they are exposed to hurricanes, torrential rains and earthquakes.

In the implementation of projects, problems often arise as a result of inadequate understanding between the owners and their consultants and suppliers with respect to the performance that can reasonably be expected of infrastructure projects. It is in the interest of all parties that this should not happen, and since infrastructure projects may require costly rehabilitation or repairs after the onslaught of an extreme natural event, the likelihood of unpleasant surprises should therefore be minimized. These Guidelines should assist owners to eliminate such problems and facilitate the required understandings.

The ultimate goal of the Guidelines and the Notes is to inform Owners of the steps to be taken to secure the required performance of infrastructure projects at affordable costs and hence reduce the possibility of surprise for the Owner, by indicating how buildings and civil works can be designed and erected so that their performance can be depended upon.

Part I: Guidelines for Owners

Role of the Owner

It is in the interest of the owner to require/insist that facilities be designed, built and maintained in such a way as to function with minimal damage during and immediately after hurricanes, earthquakes, torrential rains and other natural hazard events. The technical professionals who are hired as consultants are responsible for advising the Owner about the hazards to which facilities are likely to be exposed, and for indicating clearly the implications of choosing different design levels (i.e. how different structural requirements are likely to affect the ability of a structure to resist high winds, etc.)

The Owner is responsible for the facility itself, and must understand the implications and likely consequences of failure of any component of the structure erected.

The Owner is responsible for ensuring, through communication with the consultants and others as need arises, that the procurement of goods and services meets the requirements for resisting natural hazards.

The Owner is also responsible for ensuring that there is constant and effective dialogue among the persons involved at decision-making level with respect to construction of the facility. This dialogue can help to prevent misunderstandings and consequential errors.

Resources and Assistance

Infrastructure projects should meet certain standards of reliability and performance, and consultants and suppliers are usually capable of ensuring this. What is often lacking, however, is a clear articulation (identification and explicit statement to consultants and suppliers) of those standards, performance criteria and expectations by the Owner.

Owners do not generally use their in-house engineers to design new infrastructure projects. The design of almost all new infrastructure works is now contracted out to independent design consultants or to design/supply/build contractors. The Guidelines, therefore, focus on helping Owners with the contracting of external consultants and with the procurement of construction works.

There is, however, the question of how to reduce the vulnerability of existing works, equipment and services to the effects of natural hazards. The Owner’s in-house resources have a larger and more direct role to play in this area.

It is accepted that the construction industry has available to it civil and structural engineers and other professionals skilled in the general fields of design and construction. However, the needs of infrastructure projects encompass all those general requirements that are normally met by the building industry and, in addition, include the special factors peculiar to critical public facilities such as hospitals. These special factors need to be consciously identified and specifically stated in such a manner that there is little room for misunderstanding on the part of consultants and/or suppliers.

It is rarely sufficient for an owner simply to employ consultants and then leave them to get on with the work, just as it is rarely sufficient for an owner simply to order supplies from reputable manufacturers and leave them get on with delivery and installation. Adequate briefing of consultants and satisfactory procurement of supplies require the making of informed choices. Such choices should be based on a clear understanding of the implications and consequences of using differing criteria for costs and performance, i.e. the owner must clearly understand that use of differing criteria is likely to affect both the cost and the performance of the structure.

Quality Assurance

The system of Check Consultants, such as the bureaux de contrôle routinely used in French territories, is an example of an effective quality assurance system for design and construction. Such a system is also used, with variations, in Colombia, Mexico and Germany, and in the UK for dams, bridges and tunnels. It has also been used on several major projects in the Commonwealth Caribbean, usually at the insistence of catastrophe-insurance providers.

The check consultant is employed by the owner to review the construction documents and advise the owner on the acceptance of the construction documents with respect to the design of the facilities to resist natural hazards, and their compliance with the accepted standards. The check consultant also reviews the construction and advises the owner whether the arrangements for construction will allow compliance with the construction documents.

However, it must be clearly noted that check consultants are separate from and independent of the design consultants. Moreover it is well recognized that quality assurance is more effective where checking is done independently of those responsible for the actual construction. The system mentioned above formalizes the process and separates the roles and responsibilities relating to "construction" and "checking". The use of an independent check consultant is strongly recommended for lifeline infrastructure projects.

Information about Design Criteria

The owner should study carefully and pay strict attention to the consultants’ recommendations with respect to the design, construction and maintenance of facilities, particularly their proper functioning during and immediately after hurricanes, earthquakes, torrential rains and other natural hazard events. The consultants’ recommendations should therefore be clear, concise and understandable by the owner.

Role of the Funding Agency

Most infrastructure projects are financed by organizations such as the Caribbean Development Bank, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, commercial banks and, in some cases, insurance agencies. Certain responsibilities therefore also fall on the particular funding agency, which should:

  1. Protect its investment by encouraging the owner to have in place the appropriate administrative and decision-making mechanisms to permit the orderly and timely implementation and execution of all phases of the project.
  2. Confirm that the owner has contracted the services of knowledgeable, experienced and adequately-staffed consultants and builders to design and erect the building and inspect the project during its construction.
  3. Confirm that the owner has understood, accepted and agreed to the design criteria, and has also accepted their implications.
  4. Confirm that the project is conducted in such a way as to comply with recognized quality assurance practices. [Guidelines are to be found in ISO 9001]
  5. Confirm that the design specifications adequately take into account the possible effects of severe natural hazard events.
  6. Monitor the project through reviews of the following formal reports:

These matters are explained in the section on Design Stage I

Insurance Issues

To achieve the best relationship with the insurer, the owner should discuss insurance coverage and related matters with the insurer during the initial planning stages of the project. This is certainly the approach adopted for projects which are to be insured through the Factory Mutual system [1] which offers the most-favourable premium rates.

The role of the insurer is to provide protection to the owner by providing coverage for damage and/or losses from perils, including natural hazards. Insurance premiums should logically be related to such matters as the level of quality control during all phases of construction, as well as to adequate maintenance during the useful life of the facility.

Selecting Consultants

General Considerations

Precise professional performance specifications, to cover all eventualities, cannot be written. Moreover, interpretation of terms of reference will vary from firm to firm and from project to project, so different levels of service are inevitable. Successful consulting engineering services depend on a sufficient amount of time being spent on the assignment in an efficient manner by competent and knowledgeable persons. This translates into adequate compensation. Such compensation should be based on the fee scales recommended by the Council of Caribbean Engineering Organizations (CCEO)

The contract between the owner and the consultant should reflect the detailed scope of the work to be done, the time schedule for the delivery of the drawings and other services, and the fees and estimated expenses for such work

Selection Criteria

Selection of a suitable consulting organization is one of the most critical decisions to be made by the owner, since effective design and erection of the structure, and expeditious monitoring of all the related activities are essential if the final product is to be efficient as well as cost effective. It would also be desirable for the project to have aesthetic appeal.

The following are the major factors to be taken into account in making such a selection.

  1. Qualification and experience of firms and/or principal participants
  2. Applicants for the project contract should be required to provide detailed information about their track records as well as about their personnel resources, such as qualifications and experience.

    Members of the design team should possess specific knowledge and experience in designing against natural hazards.

  3. Capacity and work-load of consultants
  4. Both of these factors must be taken into account to ensure that the team engaged for the job is able to devote sufficient time to the requirements of the project.

  5. Local knowledge and presence
  6. Consultants contracted for the design of the project (contractee consultants) should themselves be knowledgeable about local conditions or should be associated with fellow professionals who possess such knowledge. Those involved must be able to ensure on-site presence of senior personnel as often as is considered necessary by the Owner and consultant. This need should be made explicit in the contract between the Owner and the consultant.

  7. Professional independence and integrity
    There are no adequate substitutes for these, and these criteria should rank high on the check list of desiderata when the selection is being made.

Selection Procedures

It is important that a clearly defined and understood set of procedures is followed in implementing the selection process. The following guidelines should therefore be followed very closely as they are designed to prevent omissions of important steps in the process.

  1. Draft the terms of reference.
  2. Draw up a short list of not more than four consulting firms.
  3. Request proposals. These should contain information about:
  1. Assess proposals received, negotiate with the selected firm and conclude an agreement.

As an alternative to the competitive method outlined above, the Owner may wish to choose a consultant based on first hand knowledge and past relationships. This may not be in accord with the procurement policies of many financing agencies, but very often choosing a consultant on this basis may be the best approach.

Conditions of Engagement

Several forms of contract documents are in use in the Caribbean. It is better to use a generally-recognized document than to seek to develop a unique contract for the specific project. Not only will this save time and money, but there will be a greater sense of comfort to all concerned if a familiar form of conditions is used.

A suitable document is The Conditions of Engagement of the Association of Consulting Engineers [2] which has been in use in the Caribbean for several decades for public and private projects. In the 1970s the Council of Caribbean Engineering Organizations formally adopted these conditions for use by its members.

The essential components of the conditions of engagement should include: [3]

General Conditions: These should specify such matters as duration of the project, ownership of the resulting documents, and provision for settlement of disputes that may arise.

Obligations of the Consultants: The statement on Obligations of the Consultants should indicate specific responsibilities including preparation and submission of designs (plans, reports, etc.), as well as provisions for site inspections and for any additional services that may be found necessary.

Obligations of the Owner:  These are the responsibilities of the owner, such as reviewing the conceptual plans, discussing and agreeing with the design criteria, supplying information to the consultants as may be required, as well as meeting the contractual obligations with respect to payments to the contracted parties and suppliers.

Agreement on Fees and Expenses: It is suggested that clients should examine the fee scales recommended by the Council of Caribbean Engineering Organizations (CCEO). This fee scale has been based on the experience of engineers and clients and provides the consultants with a fair fee for the services to be provided. The fee scale would also provide the clients with the assurance that under normal circumstances, the work described in the contract will be carried out for the fees agreed.

It has become practice for Governments and Financing Agencies to request detailed financial proposals separate from the technical proposals. The fees quoted in the financial proposal should be commensurate with the quantity and quality of professional work required for the completion of the technical proposal. This needs careful examination by the client and by the Financing Agency, to avoid accepting proposals that may provide for less work by the consultant than required for the project, or for personnel being used that may not have the requisite experience for the work in hand.

The best interest of the client is served when the fee to be charged by the consultant represents fairly the amount of work required of the consultant for the design and inspection services for the project. The client should bear in mind that the fee to be paid for these services is in fact a relatively small percentage of the cost of the development, while inadequate consulting services may turn out very costly to the client over the lifetime of the project.

Consulting Team

Owners should discuss with their design professionals (engineers, architects and planners) the allocation (or reallocation) of responsibilities. A major objective of such discussion should be to eliminate gaps in the process, e.g. by providing for specific attention to the performance of non-structural components of the building envelope. Any resulting reallocation of responsibilities may well lead to, and may require, a reassessment of the traditional apportionment of the overall fee. An example of what may be required is given in the following paragraphs.

For example, the architect is typically responsible for selection of exterior windows and doors. These items can account for a significant portion of the overall project cost. Although the architect is not necessarily equipped to deal with the structural aspects of these components, the structural engineer typically has no direct involvement in their selection. Ensuring the integrity of selected components is therefore usually left to the voluntary "goodwill" of suppliers. This practice is unwise since the tasks of designing, specifying and checking supplier compliance with respect to wind forces on windows and external doors, flying debris and earthquake effects, are considerable. Consequently, if the work is to be done adequately, the owner and the consulting team must address these issues at the start of a project. [4]

There is therefore a clear need to identify as accurately as possible all such unspecified or "shady areas" of responsibility as presently exist in the Caribbean. Unless this is done at an early stage some of these responsibilities are likely to be overlooked, to the detriment of the project and to the dissatisfaction of all concerned. It is the owner’s responsibility to secure from the principal members of the design team - the engineer and the architect - clear statements of the responsibilities which each accepts.

The owner should also get the principal architect and engineer to identify in writing any other/additional services likely to be required from other persons (e.g. suppliers) for which neither engineer nor architect normally accepts responsibility. These documents should then be compared and agreement reached as to who will accept responsibility for ensuring that any "unallocated" matters are dealt with, and that the materials supplied by any outside source will meet desirable standards. This additional "monitoring" responsibility will involve an additional cost, but it is a cost which cannot wisely be avoided.

Briefing And Monitoring Consultants

Specific Discussion on Natural Hazards and Agreement on Performance Expectations

Experience has shown that owners cannot take it for granted that the project to be constructed will be satisfactorily designed against natural hazards. At the outset, the representatives of the owner should discuss such procurement with the consultants and should clearly set out the policy with respect to the resistance to natural hazards, and the expected performance of the facility in the event of attack by differing levels of severity of hurricanes, earthquakes, torrential rains and other phenomena. In addition, decisions must be made on the appropriate levels of safety for the planned facilities. [This matter is dealt with in Part III of this document.]

Steps In The Monitoring Of Consultants And Approval Stages


There are several critical steps in determining and setting up procedures for the effective and efficient monitoring of consultants and progress of a project through its various stages. The following items identify these critical components of a properly instituted and integrated process, and its programme of activities:

Inception Report: This initial activity sets out the consultant’s concept of the project: the objectives of the project, the Consultant’s understanding of his assignment, the initial investigations carried out, activities undertaken, and preliminary results and recommendations.

Understanding the Terms of Reference: This is a vital element in the involvement of the Owner since these Terms of Reference (TOR) set out (or should set out) clearly and exactly what each of the participating contractees will be expected to do, under what conditions and within what time frame. The Terms of Reference essentially provide a convenient check-list of what is to be done during the construction of the project. It is expected that the Consultant will provide his understanding of the Terms of Reference in the Inception report.

Changes to the Terms of Reference: This important component stipulates within what range, in what respect, and subject to what conditions, changes may be made to the original Terms of Reference. In carrying out the study of the project, the Consultant may come across certain aspects of the project which, in his opinion, require a change in the Terms of Reference for effective implementation. If this is the case the Consultant should discuss as early as possible, the need for a change in the TOR with the Owner. This may lead to an amendment to the Contract between the Consultant and the Owner.

Outline of the Programme of the Project: The Consultant should provide an outline programme for the remainder of the project in his the Inception Report. This programme constitutes the list of tasks to be undertaken and in what order/degree from the start of the project itself to its completion. The detailed construction programme will be supplied by the appointed contractor, but the outline programme prepared by the Consultant gives the Owner time frames for the principal project activities and allows preliminary judgements to be made on the implementation of the project and utilization of the facilities.

Procurement of Equipment and Prefabricated Goods

Procurement of equipment and prefabricated goods is often undertaken by the in-house staff of the owner. It is important that particular care be taken, when preparing tender documents for such goods, to specify performance standards for these goods with respect to resistance to natural hazards.

While it may be possible to have general specifications covering the supply of such equipment and prefabricated goods, care and judgement should be exercised to ensure applicability for each specific case. Where appropriate, consideration should be given for the employment of a specialist consultant to write the specifications for the performance of specific elements against hazards.

Design Stage I

This stage is the conceptual design stage and it is arguably the most important stage of a project. The fundamental decisions which will affect all future developments during the life of the project and use of the facility are taken during this stage. In particular, these decisions will have a significant impact on the costs of the facility during its lifetime.

The Design Stage I document is a formal report to the Owner and it includes all the items involved in the design of the project for which the Owner’s approval is needed. It typically includes the following:

Topographic and Hydrographic Surveys: All construction takes place in a defined physical context. The design of the project to be constructed must take into account the topography, viz.: the physical or natural features of the land surface including its natural and man-made features. Surveys of the sea bed (or river bed) and wave regime are also required for decisions on the design of port facilities and sea protective works

Geotechnical and Geophysical Surveys: Such surveys provide pertinent information about soil composition and structure, and are essential in determining characteristics of the foundations of a building or other structure. Where the structure is to be erected near or on the beach, such surveys would also include information about beach movements.

Soil borings can provide critical information about the sub-structure of the soil (clay, sand, rock, etc.) in which the foundations will be built and may therefore determine what, if any, additional provisions must be made to ensure that the foundations are solidly placed and appropriately implanted in the sub-soil.

In all cases, relevant information is required to allow the consultant to determine the most suitable way in which the structure should be sited and constructed taking into account the need for adequate resistance to hazards and for effective environmental control.

Special Investigations: These generally include important information for decision-making with respect to the construction of new facilities such as:

  1. Environmental impact: This has to do with the impact which the new project is likely to have on the environment.
  2. Alternative designs: It may be a requirement of the TOR that the Consultant examine alternative designs of the project or components of the project so as to be in a position to advise the owner on the most appropriate system to be used.
  3. Oceanography: Where the project will be impacted on by the effects of high seas or movement of the beach, special studies must be made to determine the extent of the movements of the waves and beach. This study is usually an extensive one but must be carried out to ensure stability of the structures in the event of high seas.
  4. Hazards: Studies of the frequency, distribution and magnitude of the hazards that may affect the project.
  5. Preliminary Design Drawings: These drawings are provided at the outset of the project as part of Design Stage I. They provide for examination by the owner a visual representation, from different perspectives, of the architect/engineer's conceptualization of the project to be built. These drawings provide an opportunity for owner, engineer and architect to identify possible problem areas and explore differences in perception as to what are (or should be) the appearance and attributes (aesthetic, structural, functional and safety) of the final project. This decision-making stage allows for modification in the design of the project, where needed, before detailed analysis and drawings are done. It can thus avoid/eliminate the waste that might otherwise result if major structural and other changes were required and implemented after construction work had begun.
  6. Outline Specifications: Outline specifications describe what materials are being proposed but in less detail and usually focus on how materials should perform rather than on what they should be. Full specifications however, go into detail on factors such as the quality and strength of materials.
  7. Procurement Procedures for the Construction Contractors and Suppliers: The normal procedure for the procurement of construction contractors, is that tenders are invited for the construction of the project including the materials to be procured and used in the project. In some projects there may be special material requirements which are purchased directly by the owner, or nominated by the owner (on the advice of the consultants) for purchase by the chosen contractor. It is essential that specific agreement be reached with the consultants and the construction contractor on the responsibility for ordering and checking the quality of such material required for the project.
    There may be other procedures used for the procurement of construction contractors. For example, the procurement may be based on a sole source principle especially where it is considered that the contractor chosen has particular and singular expertise which can be brought to the project.
  8. Updated Programme for the Remainder of the Project: The purpose of such updates is to keep the owner fully informed about the progress of the project and the projection for the remainder of the project period. Such updates alert the Owner to problems that have been identified or that may be anticipated, and thus provide an opportunity to make informed decisions, in conjunction with the consultants, on changes to be made to the programme. During the construction of the project, updating of the programme is done by the construction contractor.
  9. Cost Estimates: Cost estimates indicate to the owner the most accurate projection of likely costs, in the light of all known/anticipated attendant cost factors: labour, management, supervision, materials, and provision for unforeseen and/or unavoidable delays. They represent the basis on which the contractual work is undertaken and are closely linked to other constraints, such as stipulated time of completion.

Owner Review, Discussions with Consultants, Revisions, Approvals

The documents previously identified provide (or should provide) the owner with a clear analysis of the requirements for the work to be undertaken, including possible constraints, essential provisions to be made, and projected costs. It is the owner’s responsibility to review the information provided and to discuss with the consultants (engineers and architect) the implications of the factors identified.

The owner must ensure that the implications of each decision made are fully understood by all members of the design team and by members of his staff who may be involved in the implementation of the project. Where there is disagreement on, or misunderstanding of any of the decisions made, the owner should request the design team to provide such modifications to the plans as may be considered necessary, including any cost implications and/or other constraints that may result from these revisions. Only after these steps have been taken should the owner give his/her approval for final plans (Design Stage II) to be developed.

Design Stage II

Activities in Design Stage II are based on the reports, discussions and decisions made in Stage I above. They include:

  1. The Iterative Process of Analysis and Refinement of the Designs: Analysis of the various factors to be considered in design continues during this Stage as well. The designs are repeatedly modified with greater and greater precision, to eliminate errors or, at the very least, to reduce them to negligible proportions. In most engineering work this involves, to a great extent, the detailed computational analyses of loads and structure responses.
  2. Construction Details: Construction of infrastructure projects requires that drawings be provided which set out in detail, and with precision, every facet of the structures to be erected, from placing of foundations, through thickness of walls, to positioning of conduits for water, power and communications cables and placement of power outlets.
  3. Technical Specifications: Another important requirement is the stipulation of the quality of materials required for the construction itself. Generally the works are described in words and pictures. Pictures (drawings) are preferred. However, words (specifications) are more appropriate in certain circumstances.
  4. Bills of Quantities: These specify in detail the quantities of specific materials required at particular stages of the construction process.
  5. Pre-qualification of Contractors and Suppliers: Decisions as to who will be selected as contractors and/or suppliers are critical to the efficient construction process and should not be dealt with in a haphazard manner. It is therefore advisable that before tenders are awarded applicants should be required to provide satisfactory evidence (through appropriate documentation) of their ability to provide the necessary services if/when called upon to do so. Securing this important information as a basis for determining the tender list is the essence of the pre-qualification process.
  6. Inviting Tenders: [5] Following the assessment of potential suppliers of construction services and goods, and based on the pre-qualification data received, decisions can be made by the owner on the advice of the consultants as to the agencies/organizations which should be invited to tender (submit prices) for various aspects of the work to be undertaken. The selectees are then invited to submit prices of the work which they will be contracted to carry out
  7. The Tender Period: This is the time allowed to potential contractors to prepare and submit their bids. This is also the period for the formal process of questions from those who tender and answers from consultants as well as for the pre-bid meeting and the possible pre-bid site visit
  8. Opening, Reviewing, and Reporting on Tenders: [6] As with all other aspects of the operation, actions with respect to the acceptance, review and award of tenders should be transparent, i.e. completely above board and beyond question. Provision should therefore be made for keeping tenders received in a secure place until they are opened and this should be done in the presence of selected officials of the owner and, in some cases, in the presence of representatives of the tendering organizations.
    The tenders received should be carefully examined with respect to such matters as the prices submitted, time constraints indicated, quality, sufficiency and delivery of materials specified, and payment provisions stipulated. Analysis of the information submitted should then constitute the basis on which the consultants will recommend the award of the contract.

Decision by the Owner and Contract Award

The decision as to who should be awarded the various contracts rests with the Owner. The tender report will inform the owner on the suitability and appropriateness of the tenders received, and the basis for the consultants’ recommendation for the award of the contract.

Construction Stage

When the construction contract is awarded and the work proceeds there are a number of activities with which the Owner should be involved or about which he/she should be informed. They are:

  1. Pre-construction Meeting

    There is need for a pre-construction meeting involving the owner and consultants to identify and resolve, where possible and appropriate, problems which the contractor or owner may have and which are relevant to the contract award. At the pre-construction meeting the dialogue between the contractor and consultant seeks to clear up outstanding questions not identified during the tender period. The contractor may also wish to introduce (in outline at this stage) alternative methods and materials for consideration of the consultant and the owner.
  2. Supervision (Technical inspection)

    There may be various levels of technical inspection of the project depending on the size and complexity of the project.

    Supervision-in-chief is generally performed by the architect and/or engineer (the prime consultant) who have/has designed the project and who will be expected to visit the site periodically. Periodic visits are made to the site during the course of construction to oversee the work of the resident engineer (where employed) and to establish that the works are being constructed generally in accordance with the drawings and specifications. The frequency of these visits will be dependent largely on the construction programme and on reports from the resident engineer.

    The resident engineer checks that the work complies with the drawings and specifications and that the construction is sound, especially those parts which will be covered up as the work proceeds.

    Finally, the clerk of works may not be a qualified engineer or architect, but must have experience in construction projects. The clerk of works, who is generally on the project on a full time basis, is in a position to identify deviations from the contract and report these deviations to the resident engineer or prime consultant for further action where considered necessary.
  3. Site Meetings and Progress Reports

    The purpose of these meetings is to provide for coordination of the activities of the principal participants in the project to allow on-site clarification of areas in which the plans may have been incorrectly interpreted or to identify any matters that appear to have been overlooked. These site meetings also provide for periodical on-site review of the construction progress.
  4. Shop Drawings and Approvals

    Shop drawings show details of specific components and are prepared by the Contractor or his subcontractors. Approval of shop drawings is the responsibility of the respective consultant.
  5. Variations and Additions to the Contract

    In the event that variations have to be made to the contract, these variations should be clearly and accurately documented and costed and approved by the consultant, (and owner where appropriate) and the revised contract signed by all the parties concerned. Very often the consultant has the authority within the contract to approve minor variations on behalf of the owner and to make the adjustments to the contract sum.
  6. Certification and Payment

    In accordance with the contract the consultant certifies the stage payments to be made by the owner to the contractor. The contract may stipulate that certification may be based on measured quantities of the work carried out or on a specific stage of the work completed. The owner accepts the consultant’s certificate and makes payment to the contractor within the time stipulated in the contract.
  7. Substantial Completion

    This phrase is used to indicate that the facility is reasonably ready for use. There may be minor work still to be carried out, but the owner and his/her consultants will have to be satisfied that the facility can be occupied or used safely pending completion of the remaining work.
  8. The Maintenance Period

    This is the period, usually 6 to 18 months, during which the contractor is responsible for making good any defects found in his work.
  9. As-built Drawings and User Manuals

    As-built drawings indicate exactly what structures and equipment are in place, particularly with respect to items such as water, mechanical and electrical systems. They include any variations from, or modifications to the original drawings.

    It is important to ensure that as-built drawings be produced for all projects. Such drawings are useful for vulnerability assessments, repairs, additions, alterations and post-damage assessments. All repairs and replacements should be documented.

    As-built drawings should be duplicated "working drawings" and a complete set of such documents in good condition must be in the archives at all times.

    User Manuals are generally supplied by the manufacturers of mechanical and electrical/electronic equipment. The Manuals give information which will guide the Owner in the use and maintenance of the equipment.
  10. Final Inspection and Certification

    It is essential that a final inspection be carried out. The final inspection is designed to ensure that the work as inspected has been completed generally in accordance with the contract and that the certification of payment due to the contractor can be made.
  11. Completion Report

    The completion report prepared at the end of the project. This report is complied by the consultants and should contain specific information such as:

Post-construction Stage, User Feedback

After the work has been completed problems may arise or be identified which had not been anticipated. Most such problems come to light only after the facility is put to use. The problems may result from design deficiencies or they may be simple construction defects.

None of the consultants is likely to use the facilities on a regular and full-time basis and hence may not be aware of the deficiencies. Consequently consultants must depend on feedback from the owner (and actual users) about any shortcomings they have identified in the design or in the response of the facilities to natural hazards. Feedback from the owner (and users) is therefore important to the consultant and to the contractor in helping them to understand the operational problems found by the owner which could have been prevented or mitigated by improved or different design or systems.

Maintenance, Repairs And Replacements

It is important to ensure that an adequate maintenance programme is in place. The annual maintenance budget for a building should be of the order of four percent3 of the current value of the building and should include provision for:

Part II -- Guidelines for Maintenance -- gives more information on the steps to be taken to maintain a building effectively.

Annual Reviews

Such reviews are generally carried out for existing facilities, and the following steps should be followed carefully:

  1. Undertake a first, in-depth survey of the vulnerability of the facilities leading to recommendations and (if so indicated) retrofitting actions.
  2. Carry out annual reviews to check implementation of recommendations; identify overlooked items; benefit from new knowledge; identify deterioration; review maintenance procedures.
  3. Consciously allow in the annual budget (operating or maintenance) for the review process.

Support For Damage Mitigation Issues

Caribbean countries need to enhance their provisions against extreme hazards. Public owners can play an important role in improving resilience to hazards by example, as well as by giving support and encouragement to the efforts of others. In particular the following related activities urgently need specific attention and on-going support:

  1. Development and enforcement of suitable Codes and Standards.
  2. Research into the effects of natural hazards and how best to prepare for them.
  3. Promotion of and support for continuing education programmes for construction industry practitioners.
  4. Implementation of Natural Hazard Impact Assessments (NHIA) either as stand-alone exercises or as part of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA).
  5. Liaison with donor and lending agencies on developing and maintaining performance standards.
  6. Independent audits of infrastructure projects.

Background Reading

The OAS publication Primer on Natural Hazard Management in Integrated Regional Development Planning provides a comprehensive overview of the issues. Many of the OAS publications on natural hazards and on reducing or minimizing Caribbean disastrous events are to be found on the Caribbean Disaster Mitigation Project web site at

Another useful publication on the subject of minimizing natural-hazard damage to essential facilities in the Commonwealth Caribbean is the PAHO document MITIGATION. This document provides background information on natural hazards. In addition it provides a non-specialist's guide to design and vulnerability surveys, and it includes extensive comments on designs to protect against multiple hazards.

Footnotes (Part 1)

1. In summary, the Factory Mutual approach involves ensuring that the design, construction and maintenance of facilities comply with safety standards related to natural hazards, fire, explosion and other potentially damaging events. This is usually done through a process of consultation between the insurers and the owners' technical advisers. Sometimes independent checking is carried out, as happens routinely in the French territories referred to above.

2. The ACE Conditions of Engagement form the basis of agreements between the Client and the Consulting Engineer for different types of service. The five main types of service are covered by Agreements 1, 2, 3 (two sub types) and 4A and 4B. These numbers refer to the 1984 edition of the ACE Conditions of Engagement. This is the most recent edition consciously adopted by the CCEO for use in the Caribbean. (There are two or three later editions). The ACE Conditions of Engagement are published by the Association of Consulting Engineers, Alliance House, 12 Caxton Street, Westminster SW1H 0QL, England.

3. The procedures outlined represent good generic practice and do not refer to any specific funding agency.

4. Windows and external doors are not the only elements that have this common problem. Without claiming to be exhaustive, one could add for hurricanes: roof coverings, externally mounted equipment (e.g. airconditioning plant, solar heater panels, and non-structural wall cladding; and for earthquakes: suspended ceilings, pendant light assemblies, partitions, shelves, cupboards, and mechanical equipment.

5. The guidance provided in this document is of a generic nature. When projects are financed by multilateral agencies like the Caribbean Development Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank or the World Bank, their procurement guidelines take precendence.

6. Larger percentages are appropriate for facilities subject to marine environment such as docks, harbours and coastal defences.

Executive Summary | Introduction | Part 1: Guidelines for Owners | Part II: Guidelines for Maintenance | Part III: Notes for the Consulting Engineer | Appendix I | Appendix II

CDMP home page: Project Contacts Page Last Updated: 20 April 2001