Last edited 24 Nov 2020

Manual of the BPF system


[edit] Introduction

In the early eighties, during a construction recession, The British Property Federation (BPF) formed a committee to review the way its members procured construction contracts. This was motivated by a disillusionment caused by the tendency for building projects to overrun in cost and time.

The committee was chaired by Stanley Honeyman of the English Property Corporation and comprised senior representatives of the larger property developers. Dr Martin Barnes CBE and David Trench CBE (two independent project managers) were seconded to the committee as external advisers. The objective was to produce a manual that set out a procurement system to address the issues that caused overruns and disputes. This was to be followed by the publication of a building contract reflecting the system described in the manual.

[edit] Essence of the system

The committee concluded that :

The resulting system proposed that initial design should be carried out by a design team under the control of the client, developed to the extent that:

So for example a wharehouse could be tendered on the drawings submitted for a planning application whereas a city office block would be fully detailed other than design to be detailed by specialist subcontractors. So it was flexible as to when the client handed over design responsibility to a contractor. There remained an option for the client to stipulate whether the contractor employed its own designers or the client's designers under novation. Either way the contractor was contracted to adopt and accept liability for the design upon which it based its tender.

[edit] The contract

The BPF initially joined forces with the Association of Consultant Architects (ACA) to produce the BPF/ACA Contract. When published it was received with great hostility by the construction industry which perceived it as a way of transferring development risk to the contractor. This was seen to be unfair when developers worked on profit margins as high as 20% while contractors were hard pressed to make 5%. Ted Potter, CEO of Higgs and Hill, pointed out at the launch of the contract at the Lancaster Hotel, that if design was fully developed prior to tender there was no opportunity to recover potential losses by design modification and therefore there was only downside risk for the contractor.

In view of this hostility and because the industry became more heated due to the impending deregulation of the financial sector the BPF/ACA contract was put aside. Instead those developers that wanted to experiment with the system turned to adapting JCT 81 with Contractor Design by means of 32 amendments, not least of which was the principle of the contractor adopting the design. Interestingly the JCT went on to produce amendments and a supplement to its standard contract that closely accorded with the BPF Manual.

[edit] Enacting the system

Land Securities were the first to use the system on a major £16m refurbishment to Kingsgate House in Victoria Street using Taylor Woodrow Construction. The success of this project led to a much more ambitious undertaking, replacing Grand Buildings in Trafalgar Square, which included £7m of carved stone, a major atrium, a basement car park (above the Circle line) and high quality finishes and services. The tenders received were substantially higher than the project estimates and it took a lot of negotiation with Higgs and Hill and the Bath and Portland Stone company to bring the cost down to anything near the budget level. However once the contract was agreed the project was extremely successful for all parties. The project would have been completed on time were it not for pole tax rioters setting fire to the site offices, causing a large element of the stone cladding to be replaced. With insurance contributions and an extension of time Grand Buildings was completed on time and within budget. Very few people would believe that a building of this quality was procured on the basis of a design and build competitive contract.

[edit] Conclusion

On the basis of four projects with a value in excess of £200m (2013 value) that were project managed using the system (albeit with an amended JCT contract) by the author of this article, the following advantages were noted:

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki

Designing Buildings Anywhere

Get the Firefox add-on to access 20,000 definitions direct from any website

Find out more Accept cookies and
don't show me this again