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• The stones used for this road were brought eight miles, from the quarries at Hartshill near Nuneaton.
IV. The next step to be taken is to make a contract for executing the work.
Contract work is commonly supposed to be preferable to other work, for no other reason than because it is the cheapest, but experience shows that, when it is properly regulated, it is by far the best mode of securing sound and durable work. This, however, will not be the case if the contracts and specifications are prepared by unskilful and inexperienced persons, if inspection is omitted, and if the contractors are driven by excess of competition to make bad bargains.
But if the plans, specifications, and estimates for making a road are properly prepared, then the most safe and satisfactory way of having the work properly executed will be by letting it to a contractor.
As there is no difficulty in making an accurate estimate of the sum which a new road ought to cost, if a contractor of established reputation for skill and integrity, and possessing sufficient capital, is willing to undertake the work for the estimated sum, it will always be decidedly better to make an agreement with him than to advertise for tenders.
If a contractor cannot be got possessing the qualifications which he ought to have to justify a private arrangement, then an advertisement must be had recourse to. But when tenders arc delivered in, it is very important to take care to act upon right principles in making a selection from them. The skill, integrity, and capital of the persons who make the tenders should invariably be taken into consideration, as well as the prices which they offer; for if a contractor is selected without skill, or integrity, or capital, merely because his tender is for the smallest sum, the consequence will inevitably be imperfect work, every kind of trouble and disappointment, and frequently expensive litigation.
The true principle to go upon in selecting a contractor is to lean in favour of liberal terms, and rather to overpay than underpay him. He should be made quite confident by his bargain that he will receive a fair profit for his time and labour; he will then embark in his work with spirit, and be led by a desire to gain reputation to perform his agreement to the satisfaction of all parties; but when, in following an opposite principle, a contractor is led by competition to undertake a work for a price that is too low, he starts, from the commencement, by having recourse to every species of contrivance for avoiding the fair fulfilment of whathe is required to perform; every thing is done in an imperfect way; sub-contracts are made at inadequate prices; a continual contest is carried on between the contractor and the inspector, and most commonly the whole terminates in a law suit, the ruin of the contractor and his securities, and great loss to tradesmen and others by debts due by the contractor and his workmen.
V. After fixing upon a contractor, a deed of contract is to be prepared. In this the contractor should be bound to execute the work not only according to the general conditions contained in
the deed, but also according to drawings and specifications to be annexed to it.
The deed should contain a clause to provide that no deviation should be made from it or the specifications, except by agreement in writing; and also a clause to provide for settling all disputes by arbitration. The other clauses which are fit to be inserted in the deed will hereafter be shown, by inserting an exact copy of a deed, according to which several portions of the Holyhead Road have been made.
VI. Before the work is commenced, an inspector should be appointed to lay out the work, to settle the levels, and to see that every particular thing required to be done is done precisely according to the specifications.
A person to be qualified to act as an inspector of a contract should have considerable experience as a civil engineer; he should be strictly sober and honest, and of reserved habits; he should avoid familiarity with those he is placed over; his disposition should be somewhat inclined to be severe, but he should be actuated at all times by the highest principles of justice and honesty in his conduct
A chief engineer who is engaged in conducting public works will owe his success in great measure to the skill and care with which he selects the inspectors of his contracts. The necessity of making such selections forms an essential part of his occupation, and requires considerable talents to direct it.
Above all things, a chief engineer should possess the quality of securing implicit obedience from those under him, by showing a decided superiority in the knowledge of his profession, and by acting with unsparing severity whenever the occasion may require it.
VII. It is of importance to arrange the mode of paying a contractor with punctuality; by doing so he may be kept more under control, and he will be able to perform his engagements in a more complete manner. For this purpose the deed of contract should provide that the work, as it proceeds, should be measured by the inspector every fourth week, and that a certificate should be given by him to the contractor for the value of the work that he finds executed according to the terms of the contract, deducting, in each certificate, one tenth part of the sum, to be withheld till the whole work be finished. This plan affords the best description of security for the faithful performance of a contract.
If, in place of acting upon a regular plan of paying a contractor, he is kept out of his money, he will often be placed in difficulties, and rendered incapable, however willing, to perform the conditions of his contract in a perfect manner.
As nothing can contribute more effectually to explain the proper manner of constructing a road than the deeds and drawings according to which good roads have been made, an exact copy will be now inserted of the deed of contract according to which upwards of three miles of road were made by the Parliamentary Commissioners of the Holyhead Road near Coventry. As this deed was pre