It never ceases to amaze us how many clients choose consultants who do not deliver what they need. This appears to be particularly prevalent in the contaminated land sector, where private clients are maybe investing in land for development and need to understand potential site acquisition risks/contaminated land liabilities, or are developing land already within their ownership and require planning application support to achieve planning consent for a new development.
We have had to redo work for several clients this year who failed to achieve planning consent as the work they originally commissioned was not undertaken to the requirements of the Local Planning Authority, did not follow UK Guidance and/or did not properly characterise and risk assess new development sites fully, leading to planning refusal.
This not only leads to cost increases on the project, but ensures that projects drag on and clients become frustrated with the overall planning process and their scheme, making a process appear far more complicated that it needs to be. It is difficult for clients to understand the technical jargon and the specialisms around contaminated land, which makes it difficult to understand what product they will receive until after the work is paid for and complete, and then it is subsequently found to be not what they need.
Like any purchase, clients should follow the principle of caveat emptor, let the buyer beware. Make sure that a detailed cost proposal/estimate is provided for the work, ask for examples of work and projects that your prospective consultant has delivered successfully recently, and do not be afraid to ask for references. As always, the cheapest price is not necessarily the best. Pricing in the current financial climate needs to be competitive, but be really sure that you understand what you are paying for, what you expect your consultant to deliver and what the work needs to achieve.
A little time spent understanding what your cash investment will deliver can save a lot of cost, stress and heartache in the long run.