With less than five months to go until the UK officially leaves the EU, Brexit issues and concerns are now regularly featuring in construction contract negotiations.

Since the result of the 2016 referendum, the potential impact of labour shortages and costs of materials have been widely discussed.

As regards workforce, the UK construction industry relies very heavily on migrant workers. These would be split by skilled and unskilled, with a significant proportion of them being workers coming from the EU.

And as regards tariffs, tariff-free trade is a key factor in the UK construction sector’s ability to deliver projects within reasonable budgets.

Brexit could result in a reduction to the workforce available to the UK construction sector. Along with this, if the UK leaves the EU without the ability to trade with the EU (and other countries) on a tariff-free basis, then the impact on both costs and deliverability of projects could be a major problem.

This will be a huge source of frustration for construction, given the government’s commitments to deliver housing and key infrastructure projects. As well as the private sector’s opportunity to take advantage of property development opportunities.

It is therefore no surprise, that construction contracts currently under negotiation are seeing a greater than ever focus on Brexit implications.

The problem is (and this has been the theme of 2018) that nobody actually knows what Brexit will look like. Hard or soft borders? Trade deals or no trade deals? So whilst there is growing concern over the continuing uncertainty, there can’t really be any answers until the picture becomes clearer.

So for the moment, contract negotiation on Brexit type issues has really centred on who takes the risk.

Changes in law are often risks that are borne by the employer or developer. Most standard contracts provide a format for dealing with this. But as it becomes more and more likely that changes in law will inevitably take place post Brexit, developers are looking for contractors to share some of that risk with them. The rationale being that these are not really unforeseeable changes in law now, but rather changes in law that are highly likely.

Watch this space – we will report more when the situation becomes a little clearer.

ANSWER: Yes, you should clean the machines where and when possible before they are returned.

Particularly after wet weather, all mud etc., needs to be cleared off the machine as much as possible and removed from digger buckets and dumper skips. We realise that on some sites this can be a tall order. Obviously, in dry weather and on your cleaner sites you may well find that there is little or no cleaning required.

We trust that you will have noticed that our plant machinery is always supplied in a thoroughly clean condition. This is because we spend the time and effort preparing the machines for you before each hire.

 

However, if we have to spend extra time cleaning because they are returned in such a poor state we are very likely to pass on a charge. This can be anywhere between £30 – £150 depending on condition and extra time needed.

To give an example; an 8 tonne digger caked in mud takes far in excess of 3 hours to clean. That’s half a day’s pay, a delay in turnaround time, at least 3000 litres of water and something like 2 tonnes of earth to dispose of.

Something that will always attract a cleaning charge is a machine that is returned covered, or full of, a substance such as concrete, tarmac or manure, etc.

It is not our policy to add charges for fun or for profit, but simply to charge what is right and fair and only when necessary.

 Q: When is a hired machine off hire?

A: At the end of the agreed/pre-paid period surely? – Well, actually the answer is no.

 We’re sure that, as a customer of ours, you are well aware how hire periods work and how and when to terminate your hire but it might surprise you to know that this issue has caused a bit of a headache for some.

So we felt that it might be helpful to clarify our hire periods and, more importantly, our off-hire procedure.

If you’re new to hiring from Kelsey Plant you should find the following information helpful.

Firstly, to clarify the hire period:

You can hire our machines for whatever hire period you want, but the one that often seems to cause confusion seem to be a single week’s hire.

Sometimes customers mistakenly think that a hire which starts, for example, on a Tuesday should end on a Tuesday. This is incorrect.

Here are a couple of examples of a one week hire just to make it clear:

  1. a) A machine delivered with agreed hire start date as Monday 13th March would mean that the week’s hire is up by Sunday 19th
  2. b) A machine delivered with agreed hire start date as Tuesday 14th March would mean that the week’s hire is up by 5pm Monday 20th

This point is particularly important to appreciate if you don’t receive your machine until say, 10am on the 1st day of hire. Please don’t assume that you can continue to use it until 10am the day after your agreed hire period. We’re not inflexible or unreasonable, so talk to us if you need to use it a little longer or feel aggrieved that it was delivered later than you expected.

A hire period continues until terminated according to our off-hiring procedure.

Secondly, off hiring:

We will never automatically collect machines at the end of a predetermined hire period.

Official hire termination, even if you have agreed and paid for a set period, must be done by either telephone or email by 5pm on the day that you intend to terminate the hire. If you call or email the day following your intended termination date you are very likely to be charged for the continued hire.

We advise customers to take note of the off-hire reference number they are given over the telephone or particularly when emailing, always ask for confirmation of the off-hire reference number as emails sometimes fail to be received. We have an answering machine to take calls at weekends and out of hours.

The reason for this procedure is that in the past problems have arisen when:

  1. We have been told by some customers that they want a machine for a week and will definitely be finished with it at the end of that period only to find when we turned up with a lorry that the machine was still needed and in use. The result of this was further charges to the customers for wasted journeys.
  2. We have cross-hired in a machine to cover a last minute hire. The customer has assumed that we would automatically collect it, we’ve been unaware that the customer has made this assumption and the hire has continued. We’ve chased for the additional charges which has irritated the customer. The customer has then refused to pay the extra hire but we have been left to cover this with the other hire company.

These were just two scenarios which left customers irritated and/or out of pocket and damaged the business relationship!

To help improve our service we now make follow-up calls to our customers to ask whether they wish to end or continue with their hires.

Our off-hire procedure provides certainty for all concerned. If we are not available, please leave a message on our answerphone or with our answering service team and we’ll get back to you. Always ask for a confirmation off-hire reference number to prove that the hire has been officially terminated.

With all of the above said please rest assured that we will always be fair and flexible.

Happy hiring!