Taking Over or Completion Certificate
The most important part of a project is Handing over the Works to the Client. And when it comes to the Taking Over process every Site or Project Manager should carefully study the Conditions of Contract to ensure that the correct notices are given in writing to the Engineer. Also make sure to understand if any milestones are applicable as these require separate taking over requests and certificates.
The next task is to ascertain from the Engineer at what stage he is prepared to issue a Taking Over Certificate - for example the Client may be prepared to Take Over the works before landscaping is completed, provided the company gives a written undertaking to complete the outstanding work during the maintenance period.
Once the client’s requirements are known, the Site Manager should satisfy himself that the works are complete as required. He must make regular inspections of the Works, with or without attendance of the Engineer, produce punch lists (snag lists) of outstanding items and ensure that all outstanding items are completed. He must make every effort to obtain the Taking Over certificate as soon as possible.
Once ready for hand over the Site Manager should submit his notice in writing (see template), to the Engineer with a copy to the Employer, that a Section or the Whole of the Works are ready for Take Over. The Site Manager must then agree a date and time for the Take Over inspection with the Engineer. If the inspection is satisfactory, the Engineer should issue a Taking Over Certificate (Practical Completion Certificate in some cases) within 21 days for the Contract. This certificate is an important legal document and the original must be sent to your Head Office immediately as apart from the release of retention, it transfers ownership of the works to the client and affects insurance of the works, sureties and bonds and liability for liquidated damages.
If the Engineer issues a Taking Over Certificate or Completion Certificate with exceptions, the Site Manager should assess the seriousness of the exceptions and endeavour to clear all items before the Company leave site. There can be practical difficulties when returning to site to complete or repair work and the costs will normally be much greater. In addition the contractual implications of exceptions, if not speedily and satisfactorily resolved can be very expensive.
Occasionally the Client will require Beneficial Occupation of a section of the works before the contract is complete. The Site Manager must study the provisions of the contract carefully as some conditions of contract permit only one completion certificate for the whole contract and do not allow for a reduction of retention, for example, on the portion taken over or for which beneficial occupation has been given.
The Site Manager must carefully inspect with the Engineer any portions for which Beneficial Occupation is sought and will produce a list of omissions, defects, etc. which the Engineer must include in the Partial Taking Over Certificate. If necessary this list should be supported with photographs as, under Beneficial Occupation, all risks remain with the company who may be called upon to repair damage at its own cost, unless it can be proved that the damage resulted during beneficial occupation by the client.
In view of the legal implications of Take Over, it is essential that all Site Management is aware of the contractual obligations and associated penalties in order to ensure that the Taking Over certificate is received timeously.