After writing about my experiences with some hotel architects and designers, I like to share today my experiences with hotel construction companies here in south-east Asia.
Again, the most important lessons I learned written right here at the beginning.
“Some of the most reputed construction companies might be the worse choice as they do not know ANYTHING about the construction of a hotel, resort, or about the importance of high quality “finishing” and “attentions to details”.
“Many construction companies do NOT CARE AT ALL and will not tell you if your architectural designs are wrong – even they know!”
Let me give you some facts:
- Fact is that some of the best known and most reputed construction companies might not be your best choice to build your hotel as their main experiences might well be civil work such as building bridges and highways.
- Fact is that all construction companies will keep a very good record of any V.O. (Variation Order) to blame the owners later for any delays or shortcomings.
- Fact is that most construction companies will follow strictly the architectural designs – even when common senses and human logic indicates that the design is wrong!
- Fact is that most construction companies actually do love additional VO’s as they generate additional income and generate excuses for their own failures and shortcomings.
- Fact is that most construction companies make good money not only with the actual construction work; but also with construction materials such as steel, cement, wood, etc. So, for bigger projects it is well worth to arrange certain construction material through your own purchase department. But we aware, your people need to be good, experienced and fast with purchases as you might end up with additional blame for possible delays! But if you feel confident, you can save a fortune!
- Fact is that most construction companies do not care when you will open your hotel as they simply don’t care at all about your income, they care about their own income only!
- Fact is that even with a solid construction contract signed which clearly written hand-over dates, you will never want to end up in the courts as this is a ‘lose-lose’ situation! In the end, nobody wins!
- Fact is that in worst case scenario, you most properly will/cannot use the construction contract against the construction company as they might walk out on you even before the project is finish knowing you will not want a court-case as they got lots of VO’s to justify delays and shortcomings, and knowing that a court case will take many-many years here in south-east Asia.
- Fact is that most construction companies misunderstand the hotels opening date. Construction companies believe that if the opening date is 1st. December, they have time to work until 30th. November, and then will start to clean up and move out.
- Fact is that most construction companies believe they still have time to finish construction work during the ‘soft-opening’ period. “Soft-Opening period” is NOT “Construction period” – however, minimal defect work can be accepted.
- Fact is that some construction companies don’t do the work themselves! They hire cheap 3rd. grade sub-contractors and make a profit that way.
- Fact is that your hotel construction project is always at risk ending up with a ‘bad finishing’ if you choose the wrong construction company. Your dream of having a 5-star hotel product might end here… having a 4 star product for a 5-star investment.
- Fact is that I have never seen a hotel opening on time – here in Thailand!
- Always check reference with the actual owners or investors of other properties ONLY. Do not rely on information from other people such as architect, the future management, designers etc.
- Select a few construction companies with solid reference and then let them quote for your project. (Please do ALWAYS’s check the reference very careful!)
- Always ensure you know from the early beginning what work will be done by the main-contractor and what work will be done by sub-contractors.
- As from the early beginning for the company names of any subcontractors and check their references as well.
- Do employ the service of a good CM (Construction Management) and check their references as well.
- Ensure your construction company is financially stable.
- Ensure that the scheduled construction meeting always includes the decision makers from the Construction Company, architect, designer, CM and owner/owner representative.
- Ensure that written record for all construction meetings are prepared by the owners and approved by owners before released to all concerned (Usually some subjects and issues which might but the contractor or your CM in difficult situation are not recorded)
- Ensure that the attendance sheet is signed by each ‘decision maker’ and a copy of it is added to each written record of meeting.
- Ensure each written record of construction meeting is confirmed for its correctness at the beginning of the following meeting. E.G. each new written record of meeting to show at point one that.
- Owners/Owner representative must participate at meeting all the times. Usually they participate only the last 6 month before opening when it is clear that there will be delays and then it’s too late!
- Ensure all stakeholders understand the meaning of the ‘finish date’! – “Finish” should mean: “Finish construction; finish M&E; finish interior, finish inspection, finish defect work etc”. “Finish “means handed over and signed as accepted.
Some of you readers might think most of the above is very basic, but here in south-east Asia, some of these important basics are all too often not followed.
Klaus R. Rauter
Mai-BS (Thailand) Company Limited