Of Project management, structural engineering, procurement, environmental sustainability and insurance - A Devtraco Plus Project PART 1

Sep / 21 / 2016

Devtraco Plus is an industry leading real estate developer that has successfully created a unique niche for its exclusive premium quality housing units in prime areas of Accra, Ghana. Carved out of the well-known echelons of the Devtraco brand, our company promises nothing but excellence in delivery and service. All our developments possess a signature style and character, expertly designed to effectively function with modern finishes, and built with materials that reflect our commitment to quality.

We sat with Michael Sodzi, who took time off his extremely busy schedule to talk about the work that goes on behind the scenes to create the unique brand of Devtraco Plus’ signature homes. Michael Sodzi is the project manager at Devtraco Plus and he is tasked with making sure that projects are undertaken in a timely and cost effective manner without compromising on the renowned quality associated with Devtraco Plus developments.

Michael is a chartered quantity surveyor and a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (MRICS) who holds an MSc in Engineering and Management from the University of Coventry. He is currently the lead consultant of 14 consultants on 3 different construction projects running concurrently from the design phase through to execution and project closure. His work portfolio includes playing the lead consulting role for the construction and project management of the Octagon, the MTN Data Switch Centre, bid preparation for the World Bank/IFC Country Office in Ghana, and, drafting and implementing the Project Execution Plans for the Acasia and Avant Garde developments.

In the first part of this piece, we will look at what a project is, the various stages of a Devtraco Plus project and some of the key activities undertaken by his office during the lifetime of a typical project.

What is a project?

A project is generally defined as a unique operation or set of activities with a defined beginning and end time which are geared towards realizing a particular goal. Project success is generally judged based on its achieving goals within an agreed scope, time frame and quality requirements.

Project management is key for us and so we pay critical attention to it because when you take your eye off the project, then you are asking for trouble. Here, the team applies its knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements.

At Devtraco Plus, every project has its project management plan with a project charter that shows responsibilities and milestones which enable progress to be tracked effectively. For most projects, project meetings would be held on a monthly basis but with us, meetings are run on a weekly basis. This frequency is to ensure that threats and challenges are quickly identified and dealt with before they grow and negatively impact the project. Typically, the first 3 meetings are generally technical meetings, where identified threats and challenges as well as causal factors are discussed in depth and solutions proffered; meetings in the last week are normally used to present and discuss progress reports. We also do a lot of site rounds ourselves– a couple of times a week to monitor what is going on aside what the contractor reports to monitor the project. Contractors typically don’t like this but we insist on it as we feel it’s crucial to ensure the project doesn’t get out of hand; without these practices, we can’t effectively control our projects

What goes into a project like ‘The Edge’?

We categorize our projects into 5 stages. The stages are briefly outlined below :

The Predevelopment stage: This is the first stage where consultants are assembled for the project. At this stage, we provide them with a design brief; a document detailing the project concept we have in mind and what we want to achieve with the project. The design brief is heavily influenced by the feedback we have received from clients who are utilizing our previous projects. It is based on the design brief that preliminary sketches will be done by architects and presented to us for approval. When approved, these sketches will serve as the basis for the building drawings. At this stage, we will look at the project cost and determine which financial model(s) will be applied to the project.

The Tender phase: At this stage, building drawings are ready and we open a tender for contractors to put in their bids. Because quality is something we don’t compromise on, we only work with contractors in the D2K2 and D1K1 brackets. We select the most qualified contractor based on among other things their cost, track record and safety record.

The Preconstruction phase: At this stage the tender is officially awarded to the winning bid. The site will then be handed over with a preconstruction conference taking place between us and the contractor where the requirements of the contract will be read out and agreed to in signing for construction work to begin.

The Construction phase: Here, construction works are carried out with construction control, monitoring and evaluation also simultaneously going on. In construction control, monitoring and evaluation, you would find us chasing contractors to ensure that works are being carried out to exact specifications. At this stage, if there are problems with the building drawing and practical implementation, changes will be discussed, approved and carried out in conjunction with the change control board.

The Practical Completion phase: This is final stage and at this point, the contractor has built the structure according to building drawing specifications; the building is habitable at this point. A year after the practical completion, the final handing over is done. Between the completion and handing over, the building is assessed or monitored for any defects that are not as a result of the materials but faulty workmanship, etc. 5-6 months after the practical completion phase, projects would typically be about 95% occupied.

The first part ends here but look out for part 2 which talks about the importance of structural engineers to Devtraco Plus projects, procurement processes, insurance, facility management and the incorporation of sustainable designs into Devtraco Plus’ latest development, The Edge.

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