• Hilton Quinn

The "undisclosed" costs of low cost outsourcing

Updated: Apr 8, 2018

Whats wrong with the picture below. OK, so maybe it would help if I gave you a little more info.....This is an internal fire rated wall of a process module..


Any guesses?


No idea yet? I'll help you out a little more. It's related to the steel penetrating the wall and there are two great big arrows showing you what the problem is.

Still no idea?


Don't feel bad. I didn't see it at first either.













Here's the problem


There are two steel support channels projecting through the fire wall. They were requested by the electrical discipline of an "low cost" engineering centre AFTER the structural discipline had issued their construction drawings. And the reason.....to support some strip lights! If you were like me you may be a little perplexed at the rather overkill solution to support some lights and would have quashed the idea immediately.


Now you may think well it's no big deal, it's just two pieces of steel. However the staggering INDIRECT CONSEQUENCE of executing this change is often overlooked.



Here’s what they are:

  1. A request for a steel support had to be submitted on the managing database.

  2. Request had to be reviewed by affected disciplines.

  3. Once reviewed and approved the structural engineers had to provide the necessary engineering and calculations.

  4. The steel was modeled in 3D and new drawings were extracted from this model.

  5. The structural drawings which were already issued for construction had to be revised and reissued to the Contractor.

  6. The Structural dept had to coordinate with the architectural dept to amend the interior wall elevations and penetration schedule and thjese had to be reissued for construction.

  7. The revised construction drawings had to be reviewed and approved by the leads and taken to the client for signature.

  8. Document control forms had to be completed and document controllers had to upload the documents into the project data base.


This easily added up to a couple of hundred hours burdening the project with completely unnecessary rework and expense.


Now let's consider the DIRECT IMPLICATIONS.


  1. Cost for two new steel beams and connection plates.

  2. Unnecessary extra weight added to the building module.

  3. The fire rated wall had to be cut around these steel penetrations, fireproofed, sealed and flashed creating an unnecessary weak point in the fire barrier.

  4. This added unnecessary complexity to the construction, a higher cost of installation and additional field hours.


But that is not where the burgeoning costs end. As this was a late change the Contractor was eligible to submit a delay claim and financial reimbursement for both the structural change and the architectural wall panel changes.


Total cost.....I'd hate to even think about it! And the practical solution - SIMPLY MOUNT LIGHTS TO THE WALL!



Had I seen this I could have saved the project a couple of hundred thousand

dollars with this single change alone, simplified the construction and reduced delays with construction schedule.




And there's a clincher that might bring a bemused smile to your face. The lights were designed to sit on top of the flange, effectively blocking the light. That's equivalent to placing the light above the ceiling.


Amusement aside ... my question is. On a micro scale the engineering costs of these outsourced centres may be significantly cheaper on the front end. But when the whole cycle costs are taken into account, is the client getting true value for money?


Do you have a story to share, I'd love to hear from you.


(#wholecyclecosts #lowcostengineering #valueformoney)