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Keep it out of the courts

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The past papers article (AJ 29.11.01) gave us a very interesting debate in our office. I am an engineer, currently working in an architect's practice, and have more than 20 years' experience on construction sites.

Admittedly, most of my early experience was spent developing a simple commonsense approach to building matters to the problems that arose on site, but I am surprised at how counter-intuitive some of the responses were.

The idea of active negotiation seems to be the essence of the last few questions, which was missed by our team, mainly, it seems, because of a modern reliance on contracts, law and a lack of trust.

Partial completion certificates are one way of looking at it. But another way - which I always advocate when clients ask for handover before the work is actually finished - is to come to an agreement with all parties (in an unminuted meeting if need be), to allow the client entry to the premises when he wants, on the understanding that the client will agree to accept the snagging list as a full and final register of faults.

Once the contractor has agreed to attend for uncompleted works using all due care and attention, everyone is usually happy. I must say, I normally adopt this negotiating framework and haven't yet had a client take the matter to court.

Simon Traynor, mid Glamorgan The AJ says: The views of our readers do not always reflect the views of the magazine. For more help, see page 40.

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