Frequently Asked Questions


1. Who do I call to get something done? How do I make a request?

2. Why does it take so long to get things done?

3. Why don't we use McGill trades staff for renovation work?

4. Why does it get so hot/cold in my workplace for a few weeks in the spring/fall?

5. What is the process related to shutdowns?

6. Why do you only give an estimate for jobs of more than a certain value?

7. How accurate is my estimate?

8. Why can't we have a detailed cost breakdown of the work (materials & labour) when we ask for an estimate? Why doesn't the contractor provide a detailed breakdown of his price?

9. Why does it take so long for projects to be completed?

10. Why is the work so expensive?

11. Why is it difficult to change things once construction starts?

12. Why is the budget not the real cost or the final cost of the project?

13. Why do we use the public tender process?

14. Why do we need consultants, architects and engineers?

15. How come some projects are designed in-house and others are done by outside consultants?

16. How are consultants and general contractors selected?

17. What is the Regulatory and Procedural Framework for Projects at McGill

18. What is the difference between a Project and a Work order?


Q. 1

Who do I call to get something done? How do I make a request?


Choose any of the following fast and convenient methods to communicate your request to the Facilities Call Centre (FCC). Submit your request with one ofthe3 options below.


Note: All emergencies must be reported by telephone!



  • By Email fcc.fod [at]


  • By telephone: extension4555 (fax to extension 3691)


Requests submitted through the FCC may include: Corrective maintenance, modification/installation of new products and services, and capital projects.


After hours our phone lines are automatically transferred to University Security. No matter what day or time of day our staff is trained to respond to your call in a calm and professional manner. You only need to remember one number – extension 4555.

Q. 2

Why does it take so long to get things done?


As the Facilities Call Centre (FCC) receives over 25,000 maintenance related calls a year (over 100 requests per day), calls must be prioritized. Operations prioritizes these calls by urgency and handles them in the following order:


  • Emergency typically implies a failure that constitutes a danger, health hazard or endangers security for all occupants and users, i.e. floods and other emergencies.
  • Response time: Immediately. Resolved as soon as possible.


  • Urgent implies that a service is compromised, i.e. electrical and ventilation systems breakdowns, critical temperature problems, broken guardrails, etc.
  • Response time: Investigated within 24 hours. Restored within 48 hours


  • Serious request is a repair in circumstances that do not compromise occupational or operational effectiveness, i.e. light bulbs, repairing an electrical outlet, too hot or too cold.
  • Response time: Investigated within 48 hours. Full repair within 10 working days.


  • Routine implies minor improvements and adjustments that if not dealt with could affect operational effectiveness in the long run, i.e. replacing a carpet, work place modifications, hanging up a picture and installing a coat hook.
  • Response time: Investigated within 5 working days. Completion may take more than two weeks.

Q. 3

Why don't we use McGill trades staff for renovation work?


The mandate of the Operations team is to maintain our facilities and building systems, and answer customer requests.


Moreover, the Law and the rules of the "Commission de la construction du Québec" require the University to use licensed construction contractors for construction and renovation projects.

Q. 4

Why does it get so hot/cold in my workplace for a few weeks in the spring/fall?


Spring and fall are transition periods also referred to as "shoulder periods". It is during these periods that we switch from heating our buildings to cooling them and vise-versa. As these periods are also highlighted by extreme temperature fluctuations in the ambient environment, it is difficult for us to maintain stable temperatures in our buildings. The following factors further complicate the matter:

  • Most of our mechanical systems were not designed to respond to excessive temperature changes.
  • Even though mechanical ventilation is maintained throughout these periods, most of our systems cannot heat and cool simultaneously.
  • The transfer from one mode to the other is cumbersome and labor-intensive and requires a few weeks to complete across the campus.

If you require any assistance or should you wish to discuss any situation of concern during these periods, we invite you to contact Building Operations (downtown) at 398-5722. If you are on the Macdonald Campus, please call 398-7828.

Q. 5

What is the process related to shutdowns?


When Facilities requires a shutdown in order to do maintenance or renovation work, the Building Director is consulted to determine the most appropriate time for the shutdown. Facilities prepares the paperwork to advise all stakeholders, and issues a communiqué to the constituency concerned advising of the date, duration and impact of the disruption.

Q. 6

Why do you only give an estimate for jobs of more than a certain value?


In order to provide fast and efficient delivery of service, jobs evaluated at less than $500 are not estimated. To remain efficient, jobs under $500 are invoiced once the work is finished. The invoice will show the actual time and material cost along with a description of the work.


Detailed estimates are provided only for work evaluated at over $500.

Q. 7 How accurate is my estimate?

The accuracy of the estimate you receive will vary based on the phase at which it is prepared.The accuracy of the estimate is directly related to amount and quality of information available to the project team.

  • Functional Programming Phase - 30% to 50% variability

    In this phase of the project, the Project Manager, the design professionals and the client prepare a statement of requirements. Also referred to as a space needs analysis, this document clearly defines the problem, the client's needs and objectives and establishes criteria for evaluating potential design solutions or strategic alternatives.Technical and building system infrastructure issues are examined at a macro level only.

    Schematic Design Phase - 20% to 30% variability

    During this phase of the project, the client's requirements and desires reach the conceptual stage and take form. It is at this phase that the design professionals test the client's program by studying various planning and massing relationships, always within the constraints of the project and the project budget. The understanding and determination of technical and building system infrastructure issues is refined and a general design strategy for these is developed. All involved discuss and confirm the key issues and agree on a concept.

    Design Development Phase - 10% to 20% variability

    It is during this phase that the design professionals refine and coordinate their designs. All technical and building system infrastructure issues are clearly defined and specific design solutions for these are developed. Specific systems and technologies are chosen. Outline specifications are prepared. The project schedule and the construction cost estimate are updated. Plans are reviewed with the Authorities having Jurisdiction. The client's responsibility is to review and comment on the design and give approval of the design and to authorize the preparation of the construction documents.

    Construction Documentation Phase - 5% to 10% variability

    This phase of the project starts only once a formal approval has been received from the client as changes requested while construction documents are being prepared will likely entail delays and additional cost. The construction documents prepared by the design professionals and Facilities Operations and Development outline the contractual responsibilities of the parties. These documents provide detailed specifications and clear graphic descriptions of the work and of the technical systems and technologies requested. These documents guide and direct the contractor and the sub-contractors in the preparation of their price or bid, and in carrying out their work on the project.

Q. 8

Why can't we have a detailed cost breakdown of the work (materials & labour) when we ask for an estimate? Why doesn't the contractor provide a detailed breakdown of his price?


We will give you as much information as possible when you ask for an estimate, however, the amount of detail available on an estimate is directly related to the amount of information available when the estimate is prepared. See Q7 "How accurate is my estimate?" for more information.

In the early design phases of a project, the estimate is prepared using historical data and industry benchmarks for similar work. This "ball park" type estimate neither considers the specific requirements of the project nor the conditions of the site. It is in this phase of the design process that projects are typically estimated and submitted for approval. As the project progresses from the Schematic Design Phase through the Design Development Phase and the Construction Documentation Phase, the estimate is refined as each detailed element of the project is defined. Only during these later design phases is it possible to itemize costs.

With regards to contractors, the competitive bid process used at McGill does not require them to detail their submissions. Unlike residential work were the client may ask to see a breakdown by hours of work and individual material components, in the institutional sector, contracts are awarded on a lowest price basis therefore only the total price is relevant.

McGill employs construction experts in Facilities Operations and Development to ensure that the information in the construction documents is sufficient to assure that it can hold contractors to the obligation to build the scope of work described in the documentation for the price quoted.

Some customers ask for a detailed cost breakdown of the work in order to try to piece-meal their project in hopes of lowering their cost. It is important to understand that regardless of the phase in which the work is estimated, each line item does not stand alone and each item cannot be individually negotiated.

Q. 9

Why does it take so long for projects to be completed?


In a complex institutional environment like McGill, each construction project is unique, with a unique scope of work, and logistical constraints affecting its execution and completion. Accordingly, projects must be planned, designed and then built in as efficient a manner as possible.


A project has many steps, each with its own time requirement. Programme scope definition and budgeting, design, tendering to contractors to obtain the most competitive cost, the off-site manufacturing of components, and the on-site construction itself may each require several weeks or months to perform.


In addition, Facilities may be administering several hundred different projects at a given time, each in different stages of design development or construction. Resources may often be spread thinly.

The most successful projects are those well planned in advance.




Why is the work so expensive?

A variety of issues make construction in an institutional environment much more expensive than residential construction.

  • The technical requirements of the building code are much more stringent.
  • The labour market is more controlled and more expensive. All construction trades people must meet the competency requirements of the "Commission de la Construction du Québec" and are paid according to wage rates in the Quebec Construction Decree.
  • The on-site construction logistics faced by contractors at McGill are very complicated and constraining and often involve extra costs. Problems include: a) difficult access for vehicles; b) difficulty in delivering and storing materials; c) difficulty in handling waste debris; d) execution of work in an occupied facility where regular University activities take precedence; e) access or availability of the site only at night or on weekends.
  • The University aesthetic and functional objectives have to be respected, including timely and economical construction of low maintenance, long life, and energy efficient, architecturally appropriate buildings. Compliance with municipal, provincial and national code requirements has to be insured.


  • The geometry and size of the spatial environment is very different.


For example: At home an electrician could install a new electrical outlet in about one hour using light gauge un-shielded electrical cabling. At McGill that work could cost 3 or 4 times the price because: a) the cabling has to be shielded, i.e.: run in metal conduit; b) the cable run to the fuse box may be 2 or 3 times longer; and c) the electrician may need 3 or 4 hours to do the work. So both the materials and the time required to do the work cost more.

Q. 11

Why is it difficult to change things once construction starts?


Once the construction contract has been awarded, the contractor and sub-contractors work to respect the construction schedule established in the contract. In order to keep the project on budget and on schedule it is essential to minimize changes during the construction. It can be very costly, both in time and money, to change the scope of work once construction has begun.

Q. 12

Why is the budget not the real cost or the final cost of the project?


Each construction or renovation project is a one of a kind product, the components of which must be evaluated and priced individually.


As a project proceeds from initial idea to final completion, we increase the degree of resolution and precision as needs are clarified, issues are identified and the market is tested. Only once a project is complete can we be certain of the final cost.


Initially, during the programming phase, we attempt as best we can to identify the scope of work required by the client, the physical constraints with which we must work in the building, and the requirements of authorities having jurisdiction. Preliminary budgets are made on that basis.


As the project proceeds through detailed design development those issues with respect to the client's requirements, the limitations of the existing building infrastructure, and the requirements of authorities having jurisdiction become more detailed, clearer and better understood. The client also usually develops a better understanding of his/her needs and the technical requirements of scientific instrumentation to be accommodated by the project. Revisions to the estimate are typically needed as a consequence.


Only after the project goes to tender and competitive prices are received, can we establish for the first time how the construction price will be affected by current market conditions – the shortage or surplus of materials and skilled trades and the availability of general contractors to do the work within the required time frame. It is therefore only when tenders are opened that we get confirmation of whether or not our previous budget estimates were sufficiently clairvoyant.

Once the construction contract is signed and construction site work begins, the final project cost is still not guaranteed. During construction and especially during renovations, complications almost always arise that require additional expenditures. The three basic sources of additional costs are: a) unforeseen site conditions that become apparent only after construction starts; b) omissions or other problems of clarity in the technical documentation produced by the construction professionals; c) changes to the scope of work requested by McGill (by the client or by Facilities), or by authorities having jurisdiction.

Therefore, it is only once construction is complete that we can know definitively what the project will have cost.

Q. 13

Why do we use the public tender process?


Under the terms of Quebec Bill 17, public bodies like McGill that receive funding from the government, are obliged to award contracts whose value exceeds $100,000 by a public tendering process. With respect to construction projects, this applies both to the mandate to be awarded to professional consultants and the contract for the performance of the site work by the construction contractor.

Q. 14

Why do we need consultants, architects and engineers?


All University buildings are considered "public buildings". In this context, it is required by law that all documents, drawings and specifications used for work completion, be developed and sealed by architects and engineers, members in good standing of their respective professional order. These consultants have the responsibility of ensuring that all completed work meet the requirements of applicable laws and regulations. With these professionals, McGill assures that the work is documented, and that the documents are safely kept for reference in future projects.

Q. 15


How come some projects are designed in-house and others are done by outside consultants?


McGill University relies on a team of design professionals among its personnel within Facilities Operations and Development. As a priority, this team prepares documents for projects directly related to the University's main mission, such as classrooms, laboratories, etc. When this in-house team is not available, documents are developed by external consultants. Projects requiring specific expertise are generally completed by external consultants specialized in these fields of activity, such as heritage building conservation for example. Considering the deadlines and the number of persons required to prepare documents for construction, and the level of complexity of these documents, all mandates for major projects are assigned to external consultants.

Q. 16 How are consultants and general contractors selected?


Facilities uses contractors on a pre-qualified list who have been evaluated by the University. Facilities screens contractors and consultants before allowing them to work on our construction projects. Contractors and consultants who are selected have to demonstrate that they have an appropriate level of experience and competency to work on complex projects in occupied institutional buildings. Contractors also have to prove that they have the financial resources and stability required of our projects by demonstrating that they are bondable and carry appropriate insurance coverage. For contracts having a value over $100,000 a public tendering process is used, see Q. 13.

Q.17 What is the Regulatory and Procedural Framework for Projects at McGill



McGill awards construction contracts based on the principles of competitive pricing, transparency, equity, fairness, and legality. Contracting procedures are in compliance with the law. McGill aims to be a model of best practices in the construction industry. Business practices are designed to be efficient and cost effective.


The PROJECT MANAGEMENT unit of FACILITIES OPERATIONS AND DEVELOPMENT (FOD) is responsible for all construction performed by the university. This unit is staffed by expert construction professionals who provide the technical and administrative interface required between the university and the construction industry.

McGill PROCUREMENT SERVICES administers and monitors the competitive tendering process on behalf of PROJECT MANAGEMENT and makes regular reports of McGill contracts over $25,000. to the Government of Quebec.

McGill LEGAL SERVICES provides input and counsel with respect to all legal matters and contractual issues involved in the construction procurement and contract execution process.

McGill FINANCIAL SERVICES (the CAPITAL PROJECTS unit) provides accounting control and compilation of all contracts and payments to be processed by PROJECT MANAGEMENT.

McGill INTERNAL AUDIT makes recommendations and provides periodic reviews of administrative, accounting, and contractual practices as performed by PROJECT MANAGEMENT, FINANCIAL SERVICES AND PROCUREMENT SERVICES.

THE LAW – Act Respecting Contracting by Public Bodies

Construction contracts are awarded in compliance with the Act Respecting Contracting by Public Bodies, R.S.Q. c. C-65.1, r.5. The Act was proclaimed into law on October 1, 2008. In particular, McGill follows the provisions of the Regulation respecting construction contracts of public bodies, R.R.Q. c. C-65.1, r.5, and the Regulation respecting service contracts of public bodies, R.R.Q. c. C-65.1, r. 4 (for professional consultants). These documents may be consulted on the McGill PROCUREMENT website:



McGill makes use of master tender and contract documents for all construction contracts, based on model documentation that has been produced for the usage of Quebec Universities by CREPUQ (Conseil des recteurs et principaux des universities québecoises) in compliance with the requirements of Act 65.1 and the associated regulations. These master documents have been edited and customized for the McGill context by PROJECT MANAGEMENT and have been reviewed and approved by LEGAL SERVICES, with the added input of external legal counsel expert in construction contract law.

The master documents include, for example, standard:

Instructions to Bidders
Tender Form
Bond Forms
Insurance Affidavits
Contract Form
Contract General Conditions

Similarly, McGill uses master tender and contract documents for all professional contracts for consulting engineers, architects and project managers.


In conformity with Act 65.1 and its regulations, McGill tenders all construction contracts and all professional service contracts whose value is more than $100,000. by competitive public tender.

The construction contracts are awarded usually to general contractors either via a process of competitive public tender on price only; or by a two step process that includes a public tender for the prequalification of a set of eligible contractors based on criteria evaluated by a selection committee, followed by a competitive tender on price only that is limited by invitation to those contractors who have successfully qualified in the prequalification step. The latter process, while more time consuming and labour intensive for PROJECT MANAGEMENT and PROCUREMENT SERVICES has proven to be the preferred method since it improves the probability that the construction will be executed by an appropriately experienced and qualified contractor.

McGill awards construction contracts whose value is less than $100,000 via a competitive tender by invitation to contractors who appear on a list of approved contractors. (The judgement as to whether the contract will be above or below the $100,000 threshold is made by the professional design consultants – architect and engineers – who have been mandated to design the subject work and who produce written cost estimates prior to the decision to go to tender.) The list is compiled by Facilities Operations and Development (FOD) and is based on the contractors’ expertise and experience in an institutional environment, financial strength, reliability, and track record. The addition or deletion of contractors on the list is reviewed regularly by an FOD committee that is chaired by the Executive Director of FOD.

McGill may award construction contracts whose value is less than $25,000, based on a single price submitted by a single contractor, by invitation. The award of the contract is subject to the verification by PROJECT MANAGEMENT of the price quoted against current market values for similar work. In the event that the price is deemed to be unreasonable, additional price quotes from other contractors will be requested before a contract is awarded.

This process for small contracts less than $25,000 in value has been developed for the sake of efficiency in the assignment of staffing resources, and speed of project execution so that the user/client constituency for whom the project is intended, does not face undo delay. The financial risk to the university is mitigated by the verification of prices against the PROJECT MANAGEMENT data base of typical market costs.

Professional Service contracts for architects and consulting engineers, whose value is more than $100,000. are awarded by competitive public tender based on an absolute quality evaluation, in conformity with Act 65.1. These professional services are not subject to a tender on price. Instead the tenders are designed to rank the competing consultants based on the quality of their services. The bidder that receivers the highest score based on the selection criteria, established and evaluated by a selection committee, will win the contract. Act 65.1 requires this method of contract award because the standard basic services provided by these professionals are already subject to a government tariff established by decree.

Professional service contracts for external project management services, whose value is more than $100,000 are awarded by competitive public tender based on a mix of quality and price, called an adjusted price tender, in conformity with Act 65.1. The tenders are designed to rank the competing consultants based on the quality of their services. The score received by the bidder based on the selection criteria, established and evaluated by a selection committee, is used to adjust the price quotation of the bidder so that bidders with a higher score will receive a proportionately larger downward adjustment in their price. The bidder with the lowest adjusted price wins the tender.

Professional service contracts for architects, consulting engineers, and project managers for contracts whose value is less than $100,000 are awarded without tender based on a one-on-one negotiation. The consultants are selected by PROJECT MANAGEMENT based on their expertise, the technical demands and complexity of the project, and their track record and experience either at McGill or elsewhere with projects of a similar nature.


The mechanics of the tender process are decreed in Act 65.1 and its regulations, for all contracts of more than $100,000 in value, PROCUREMENT SERVICES administers and monitors the tender process on behalf on PROJECT MANAGEMENT.

Tender announcements and tender documents are posted on the SEAO (Service électronique d’appel d’offres), the Government of Quebec’s tender administration service. This process is managed by PROCUREMENT SERVICES in coordination with PROJECT MANAGEMENT.
Addenda when required are also posted on the SEAO. The rules for tendering established by the Act 65.1 and the SEAO are followed by PROCUREMENT SERVICES, which has dedicated a senior procurement officer to support the tendering and contracting activities of FOD, including PROJECT MANAGEMENT.

Sealed tenders are deposited by bidders at the offices of PROJECT MANAGEMENT before the tender closure deadline. Tenders are opened publicly by the senior procurement officer with no less than two McGill employees in attendance.

Contracts whose value is less than $100,000 are tendered by invitation as mentioned above. These tenders, although administered by PROJECT MANAGEMENT rather than PROCUREMENT SERVICES, are opened publicly by the senior procurement officer with no less than two McGill employees in attendance. The services of the SEAO are not used. Tender announcements are distributed by the project manager and the tender documents and addenda are distributed by the lead professional consultant, usually the architect.

Sealed tenders for tenders by invitation are deposited by bidders at the offices of PROJECT MANAGEMENT before the tender closure deadline.
The tender results for all public tenders are posted on the SEAO by PROCUREMENT SERVICES.


In conformity with Act 65.1, when a tender includes a quality evaluation (including the prequalification of contractors), the institution must set up an evaluation committee to perform the quality evaluation and score the competing bidders. The committee is chaired by the senior procurement officer who represents PROCUREMENT SERVICES. The procurement officer fulfills the role of secretary of the committee, as defined in the regulations, and is charged with assuring fairness and equity in the evaluation process. The committee membership is composed of no fewer than three people and usually includes the project manager, a non-McGill employee (usually a representative of one of the professional consultants), one of the directors of PROJECT MANAGEMENT, and occasionally a representative of the project client/user.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT has developed a set of standard evaluation criteria for both contractors and professional consultants that are applied depending on the nature and type of project at issue.

For general contractors, typical evaluation criteria may include:

The contractor’s experience of executing projects of a similar type and dollar value.
The experience and qualifications of the contractor’s site superintendent.
The experience and qualifications of the contractor’s project manager.

For professional consultants, typical evaluation criteria may include:

The consultant’s experience of executing projects of a similar type or complexity
The experience and qualifications of the lead designer
The experience and qualifications of the site supervisor/inspector
The experience and qualifications of the rest of the project team.
The consultant’s understanding of the leadership/managerial challenges of the project.
The consultant’s understanding of the technical challenges of the project.

For the evaluation of the candidatures of architects and engineers on the most important (read largest) projects, and for the evaluation of all project managerial tenders, the selection committee will include a formal interview process as part of the evaluation methodology.


In conformity with the provisions of Act 65.1, PROJECT MANAGEMENT, in consultation with PROCUREMENT SERVICES, establishes compulsory admissibility criteria for public tenders addressed either to general contractors or to professional consultants. This is done to assure that the bidders who respond to the tender call will all possess the minimal set of attributes that the University deems to be essential to the success of the project.

It is done to narrow the field of potential bidders to those parties that are judged to be best able to respond adequately to the demands of the project; and in the case where an evaluation committee will be undertaking a quality appraisal of bidders – to reduce the set of potential bidders to a reasonable number of bidders. The tender remains a public tender but it is addressed to a restricted subset of the total market of contractors or professionals – those who possess the appropriate attributes.

The verification of whether or not a bidder meets the admissibility criteria is made by PROCUREMENT SERVICES (the senior procurement officer), and if the tender includes a quality appraisal, with the assistance of the evaluation committee. If a bidder fails to meet the admissibility criteria, his candidature is disqualified and the tender is rejected without further analysis or consideration.
Admissibility criteria for general contractors may include one of the following, as an example:

  • having executed a contract of no less than $500,000 in value to renovate laboratories in an occupied hospital, university, or pharmaceutical building.
  • having executed a contract of no less than $1.0 million in value to replace windows on an occupied institutional or commercial building of six storeys or more in height.
  • having replaced a ventilation system of no less than 10,000 CFM in an occupied institutional or commercial building.
  • having average annual revenue greater than $10.0 Million in each of the last five years.

Admissibility criteria for professional consultants may include, as an example:

  • having a minimum of two partners or owners of the firm.
  • having eight or more full time employees.
  • having done an interior renovation project in an occupied hospital or university building of no less than $1.5 Million in value.


Before a contract may be awarded, the tenders must be verified. The list of bidders who have conformed to the requirements of the tender documents must be confirmed. The legitimate low bidder must be identified. This responsibility is assumed by PROCUREMENT SERVICES which produces a tender report and a formal declaration of the legitimate low bidder.

The professional design consultants, architect and consulting engineers, also play a role in this process. They evaluate the tenders for compliance to the technical aspects of the technical documents and make their recommendations to the project manager who conveys the information to PROCUREMENT SERVICES. The evaluation of the professionals is an element in the overall assessment of POCUREMENT SERVICES.
Following the declaration of legitimate low bidder by PROCUREMENT SERVICES, PROJECT MANAGEMENT may proceed to award the contract to the successful bidder if and only if the project budget for the subject contract has been formally funded and approved by the appropriate signing authority in the university.

Both PROJECT MANAGEMENT and PROCUREMENT SERVICES rely heavily on the timely and wise counsel of McGill LEGAL SERVICES whenever issues with respect to tender or contract interpretation arise. Should PROCUREMENT SERVICES have difficulty in passing judgement with respect to the admissibility or conformity of a tender, or with respect to the identification of the legitimate low bidder, PROCUREMENT SERVICES, in collaboration with the Associate Vice-Principal University Services, will ask LEGAL SERVICES for counsel and advice. If required, LEGAL SERVICES will call upon the expert advice of external legal counsel – specialized in construction and contract law in Quebec.

Once the facts are clarified and known and the legal alternatives and consequences have been identified, PROCUREMENT SERVICES will confirm its decision. In situations where more than one course of action is possible, PROCUREMENT SERVICES will consult with the Associate Vice-Principal University Services. The course of action that is in the best business interest of the university will be chosen.


Every construction contract at McGill is governed by a project budget. No construction contract may be signed without having in place the pre-requisite project budget with a fully funded and authorized dollar value. Project budgets are prepared by the PROJECT MANAGEMENT unit and are then submitted for approval to the appropriate officer of the university who controls the source of funds.

A project budget is at best an approximation of the final cost of the project. The project budget is based on the conditions known and anticipated at the time of budget preparation. The estimation of the probable cost of construction is based on the experience and judgement of the construction professionals who have designed and specified the work based on their knowledge of the construction industry. However neither these professionals nor PROJECT MANAGEMENT have any control over the cost of labour and materials, the contractor’s method of determining prices, or the state of the construction market and competitive bidding practices at the time of tender and contract award.

Depending on the type of project the signing officer who approves a project budget may be a Dean, an Executive Director, a Principal Investigator or an Associate Vice-Principal. The decision whether or not to proceed and execute a construction project is confirmed when the McGill officer who controls the source of funds formally approves the project budget.

Regardless of the type of project, once the value of a project budget exceeds $1.0 million dollars additional approvals are required.

All project budgets in excess of $1.0 million must be approved by the Vice Principal Administration and Finance.

All projects budgets in excess of $2.0 million dollars must be approved by the Principal and Vice Chancellor.

All project budgets in excess of $4.0 million dollars must be approved by the Building and Property Committee of the Board of Governors and the Board of Governors.


Once a project budget has been approved the PROJECT MANAGEMENT unit is charged with the responsibility of executing the project and disbursing the funds in the project budget in conformity with university administrative, financial and legal requirements. The use and disposition of the project budget is under the sole responsibility of the PROJECT MANAGEMENT unit and the Executive Director of FOD.

Signing authority for the initiation and signature of contracts and the payment of invoices is administered as follows:

The signature of the Director or Associate-Director of the PROJECT MANAGEMENT unit is required for any contract or invoice whose value is less than $100,000.

For any contract or invoice whose value is greater than $100,000, the signature of the Associate Vice Principal University Services is also required in addition to that of one of the directors of the PROJECT MANAGEMENT unit.

For contracts and invoices whose value is greater than $1,000,000, signing authority is usually delegated to the Associate Vice Principal University Services by the McGill authority under whose jurisdiction the original project budget was approved (e.g. – delegated by the VP Finance and Administration for projects between $1.0 and $2.0 million in value, and by the Principal and Vice-Chancellor for those between $2.0 and $4.0 million in value.)

For construction contracts, the signing process described above is not initiated until the professional consultants - architect and consulting engineers - whose mandate it is to supervise the execution of the construction contract, have first approved the contractor’s payment request and produced a certificate of payment that authorizes the appropriate progress payment to the contractor.
Link to construction contract signing authority document on the Secretariat’s website:


The CAPITAL PROJECTS unit of FINANCIAL SERVICES processes all transactions on behalf of the PROJECT MANAGEMENT GROUP. In addition to making sure that contracts are encumbered on the books of the university and that invoices are processed for payment, the CAPITAL PROJECTS unit verifies that PROJECT MANAGEMENT has followed the rules with respect to budget approval and funding and with respect to the signing authority for contracts and invoices.

All contracts, contract adjustments and invoices are compiled by FINANICAL SERVICES as the official file of record for the university with respect to its business relationship with third party vendors.


It is very rare for a construction project to be completed without the need for Change Orders to adjust the scope of work, especially in an institutional environment where 99% of projects are renovations to old existing facilities. Change Orders are formal revisions to a contract.

When Change Orders are required, they are first recommended and subsequently approved by the consulting professionals, architect and engineer on the project. The value of Change Orders to the contract is negotiated by the consulting professionals in collaboration with the project manager who works for PROJECT MANAGEMENT.

Once the Change Order documentation is prepared including the recommended price as negotiated, it is submitted to the McGill signing authorities in the same manner as for contracts and invoices as described above.


The administrative practices, tendering and contractual procedures used by PROJECT MANAGEMENT are subject to periodic reviews by McGill INTERNAL AUDIT. INTERNAL AUDIT examines project files, contracts and payments and checks for compliance with the rules of the university and the laws and regulations of the Quebec Government. INTERNAL AUDIT makes recommendations for the improvement of business practices, checks and balances, and accounting controls when needed.


It is very common for specific project files and financial transactions to be subject to a detailed audit review by external governmental and para-governmental agencies that provide funding for significant initiatives.
Recently, audits have been performed on various projects by:

The Canadian Foundation for Innovation
MAMROT – Ministère des Affaires municipales, Régions et Occupation du territoire
MDEIE - Ministère du Développement économique, de l’Innovation et de l’Exportation.
MELS – Ministère de l’Education, du Loisir et du Sport


What is the difference between a Project and a Work order?

  • A project is not cost dependent. You can have a $10,000 project, just like you can have a $120,000 work order.


    • The $10,000 project would be one where a partition has to be moved in a suite of offices, affecting fire separations, or exit paths; or thereby also requiring changes to light fixtures, electrical switches, thermostats, ventilation ducts.
    • A $120,000 work order would be the replacement of three big 40 HP motors and pumps in a mechanical room. You take out the old and substitute the equivalent new. There is no change of specifications or geometry.
  • A project is required for one of three reasons, or both:
    • The physical geometry of the building is changing and this affects exit paths, fire separations, fire resistance ratings of assembles and/or life safety. Plans and specs by construction professionals are required…. And this by LAW - it is a matter of public order.
    • The renovation modifies building service or equipment infrastructure – form, geometry, location, size, quantity or specification. These changes also require plans and specs from construction professionals, not only by law, but also to maintain technical continuity and records of the state of the building systems.
    • Renovations that affect the building envelope and exterior appearance or geometry of the building also require construction professionals, plans and specs in order to comply with the law and zoning regulations.
  • The vast majority of McGill buildings are Public Buildings as defined by the Public Buildings Safety Act. Any renovations to such buildings require the involvement of professionals – architects and engineers, in order to assure that building codes and other regulatory requirement are respected.
  • Changes which are decorative in nature, may be done as WOs, not projects, provided that they don’t affect the points raised in b).
    • Such changes include painting, changing carpeting, window draperies.
  • Decorative changes to principal public spaces and important rooms… will still require a project, since plans and specs will be needed in order to shepherd the process through all of our internal approvals.



Public Buildings Safety Act:

See point 2 – Definition of Public building – basically everything except single family houses, plus office type buildings over two storeys, and stores over 300 m2.

See point 4 – reference to permit, inspectors, and use of architects.


Professional Code:

See Art. 32 - Architect and Engineer are both exclusive professions


Architect’s Act:

See point 16 and 16.1 – definition of field of practice – anything over 300 m2 and over two storeys.


Engineers Act

See point 2.e – field of practice includes any Public Building

See point 4. – collaboration with architect.