Thursday, 27 May 2010

Best wishes to Richard North

Best wishes to Richard North for a speedy recovery after his recent scare; and he's right, an occasional reminder of our mortality is no bad thing. The V&A renaissance galleries used to have some wonderful little coloured wax momenti mori, putrescent cadavers with the flesh half flayed from the bone, that our forebears would keep on their desks to remind them of the fate of us all.

When Richard's up and about no doubt he'll be blogging over at Defence of the Realm on the FOI revelation in the Times today that feasibility work on the new FRES vehicle for the army has cost over £200m. Whilst not able to offer an expert opinion on this, I can share what we'd expect in the construction industry.

A design consortium in this day and age may get a fee of 9% of construction cost for an innovative and complex building. On top of this may have been feasibility work - Stage A & B in RIBA terms - which is usually time charged, but will be unlikely to exceed 2% of construction cost unless poorly managed.

The MOD's budget for buying the new set of vehicles is £2bn. Feasibility costs are therefore already at 10% even before detailed production design has begun. If this were a construction job, it would be time to change the team. The actual vehicle is not expected to enter service until 2013 / 2014, and a MOD spokesman said 'Considering the overall size of the programme and its importance in equipping our Armed Forces this is not an excessive assessment-phase spend.'

Perhaps the MOD needs some experienced construction managers to run its procurement programme.


Scrobs... said...

Well described Raeders.

Trouble is, some of the team (the "client"), changed on 7th May.

Just think of all those grubby little hands being rubbed yet again...

Richard said...


Many thanks for your kind wishes. And yes, I'm minded to write a piece on the Times report. In short, it is a master of technical illiteracy, completely and utterly missing the point.