QUESTIONING MUNICIPAL SELF-PERFORMANCE
Are the costs of safety
training and systems
included in the cost of
Provincial health and safety laws and regulations governing construction work and workers requires
specialized training and programs to continually upgrade safety training for onsite workers,
and especially for those performing specific activities such as working in confined spaces or
in high locations. Contractors have expert staff in place to manage workplace safety programs and
responsibilities. They have a significant investment in health and safety equipment and programs.
Safety systems, training and equipment are costs that municipalities considering self-performance
of construction work should expect to incur and must be considering in assessing the true cost of
Are the costs of
and stewardship included
in the cost of selfperformance
The cost of complying with rapidly expanding environmental laws and regulations is one of the fastest
growing cost items on a contractor’s balance sheet. Expectations are often unclear or impractical
and the risk of unpredictable non-compliance is high. Financial penalties for non-compliance
are extreme and mitigation is expensive. The cost of complying with environmental regulation, the
cost of administrating environmental regulation and the cost of the unpredictable risk must be considered
in assessing the true cost of self-performance.
Are the costs of training
to ensure a sustainable
workforce included in the
cost of self-performance
One of the biggest problems facing civil contractors in the near and mid-term future is the availability
of skilled workers. Contractors invest substantially in the recruitment, training and retention
of their tradespeople. Municipalities that might consider self-performing construction work
will require a strategy and incur some cost in ensuring their in-house workforce is well-trained and
sustainable. These costs must be considered in assessing the true cost of self-performance.
Are all costs related to
labour relations considered
in the cost of selfperformance
Municipalities that consider self-performing construction work will be responsible for workers usually
covered by public sector union agreements. This will require the administrative infrastructure
for collective bargaining and, where that already exists, expansion of that role. There is also considerable
cost involved with maintaining the collective agreement between rounds of bargaining.
When work is publicly tendered, the contractor assumes all costs and responsibilities for labour relations
and maintaining collective agreements with its construction unions or directly with its employees.
The cost of labour relations for municipalities considering self-performing construction
work must be taken into account when assessing the true cost of self-performance.
Can the municipality
protect itself against
rising costs during the
course of construction?
Very seldom does a construction project unfold exactly as planned. Site conditions, the weather,
unknown or misallocated utilities, issues with materials supply and delivery, subcontractors and
scheduling issues are just some of the factors that can impact the cost of the project after it has begun.
In most cases, such factors are the responsibility of the contractor on publicly-tendered work
and will not cause the owner’s cost to rise. If the work is self-performed, the municipality assumes
responsibility for any increased cost of performing the work and these costs must be considered in
the comparative analysis.
8 Think BIG | Quarter 3 2019 | saskheavy.ca