There are two stages to the completion of a building contract. The first stage, described as practical completion, is the acceptance by the architect of the building as complete and ready for occupation. The second stage is completion proper, which usually comes six months afterwards, when the building is inspected for defects, the necessary corrective work carried out and the final account settled.
Inspections for practical completion and defects liability should be careful and detailed. It is advisable to follow a fixed pattern in inspecting the building and, if necessary, to do it in several short periods rather than one long one, when through weariness or impatience the inspection may be prejudiced.
Bear in mind, when making your inspection for practical completion, that this is not the opportunity for catching up on points you should have noticed during normal site inspections, but that it should be specifically concerned with the correct operation of all equipment, completion of all finishes, and defective or omitted items. To obtain a consistent result the inspection should be made with an inspection schedule containing broad headings of floors, walls, ceiling, doors, windows, electrical equipment, services equipment, sanitary ware, joinery, or other items, depending upon the character of the building. The later, defects liability, inspection can be a second stage of the same schedule. Detailed consideration will need to be given to such things as:
General cleanliness of all surfaces.
Adhesion of plaster, tiles or other applied surfaces.
Completed decorative finish according to schedule.
Screws and fixings secure.
Signwriting or notices completed.
Mechanical and other services tested.
Ironmongery operation, and keys handed over.
Correct light fittings and lamps.
Electric switch plates on and secure.
Fire-fighting equipment complete.
Sanitary fittings complete, clean and working.
Gully gratings, etc., in position.
Doors, windows operating full arc.
Joinery junctions, scribings, etc., finished.
Earlier defects and making good generally finished.
The contractor should arrange for the final tests to be carried out on mechanical and other services either before or during this inspection. Ensure that you or the appropriate consultant attends all tests. Your client should be invited to attend or send a representative so that he will be fully acquainted with the operation of the services and equipment. Consultants must confirm acceptance of all work under their direction. Finally, check escape routes and any other conditions of consents, including party structure or adjoining owners’ work.