The employer is also called the client or building owner. He is the organization or person who commissions the construction project. The important thing is that employer is the person who pays the cost of the work.
Much of the success of a building contract will depend on the employer and the motivation given by him.
The employer’s prime role is to establish a structure for the management of the project and to make sure that it works.
The employer has a substantial influence on the design of the project with respect both to functional efficiency and overall appearance. Therefore, he has to take particular care to:
- understand fully the purpose of the building;
- guarantee that the necessities of the end user are accommodated;
- communicate those necessities to the architect/designer;
- appoint an architect/designer with proven ability in designing buildings that satisfy users’ requirements.
To ensure a satisfactory outcome, the employer should collaborate well with the architect/designer and his team.
However, these conditions do not often operate in practice. For example, the employer impatiently demands drawings, and cost estimates. Then, he requires bids and ultimately a completed building in a short space of time. This will result inadequate drawings and other contract documents, prepared in hurry. Final, this may be a reason for many problems and disputes when the work is underway on the site. Therefore, sufficient time must be allowed for the proper planning of the project and for contractors to price and return the bills of quantities and form of bid. Otherwise, contractors have to price high to cover themselves against unidentified risks.
As far as possible, the employer should refrain from requesting changes to the original design as the work proceeds. Such variations often result in delays and disorganization of the work. It also gives rise to increased costs and claims from the contractor.
It is very important that the employer shall honour the payment certificates issued by the architect within the period indicated in the appendix to the form of the contract. Contractors should be promptly paid to prevent cash flow problems.
However, it should be borne in mind that most employers want what they need when they want it, and at a price, they can afford.
The employer’s purpose in starting a building project is usually driven by the need for the project as a functional unit or as an investment.
The possible objectives of the employer are as follows:
• minimize capital cost
• maximize capital cost/value ratio
• reach necessary income cash flow profile
• minimize management costs
• minimize maintenance and insurance costs
• minimize tax liability
• be energy efficient.
(b) Marketability – maximize present value or at future disposal (freehold or otherwise).
• optimize operational requirements of the intended occupier(s)
• reflect the intended occupier’s requirements/ability to afford
• meet social / occupier’s special needs (e.g. disabled).
• minimize health and safety risks
• choose materials that reflect sustainability
• Aesthetically please (e.g. impression on occupier’s customers)
• minimize any alterations to specific features
• reflect planning authority’s policies
• minimize possible opposition
• maximize the comfort of occupants
• minimize inconvenience to others during construction.
• construct within a defined period
• minimize risks of delay during construction.
The employer also has a dual management function:
- to manage the client input;
- To co-ordinate functional and administrative needs;
- To resolve conflicts;
- To act as the formal point of contact for the project;
- to supply the technical expertise, to assess, procure, monitor, and control the external resources needed to implement the project.
The employer should also coordinate and resolve conflicts between all interested sections of the employer’s organization. He is responsible for ensuring that all necessary decisions are made on time. Timely decisions will avoid unnecessary delays and reduce increased costs.
The term ‘design professional’ is often used to refer to the architect, and engineer as they perform their planning, design, and construction liaison tasks on a construction project.
It is common to use the words architect-engineer, and architectural-engineering firm, for the party engaged in carrying out these tasks.
The role played by each of these two professionals varies considerably depending on the type of project.
If it is a building or other facility project, such as a new residence, school, hotel, or apartment building, the architect is likely to lead the planning and design team.
If the project involves constructing a highway, bridge, dam, pipeline, or industrial plant, the architect role will be very small role. Depending on the project, the engineer (actually many specialties) may be involved with utility studies, structural design, heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, data communications systems, roadway layout, pavement design, and earthwork and foundation systems.
The architect is often regarded as the leader of the building team in a building project. He normally receives a commission to design and supervise the construction of the building.
The architect will most likely need assistance from other specialists. For example, structural engineers may be required to design the structural frame, mechanical and electrical engineers to design the M & E services, and quantity surveyors to advice on contractual and cost aspects and prepare bills of quantities and contract documentation.
The architect is usually responsible for the preparation of the contract, including the formulation of designs for the project.
He is practically in sole control of the project until the contract is signed. But, he should make it clear to all bidders that he is acting on behalf of the employer.
Once work has started on the site, he is responsible for ensuring that the contractor carries out the whole of the work under the contract to the architect’s reasonable satisfaction.
The architect is normally the only member of the building team with an overall view of the project. His functions usually include liaison with the employer, representatives of local authorities, consultants, and specialists. Liaison with the contractor may start at an earlier or later stage, depending on the type of the contract.
The architect’s first task, after the appointment, is to discuss with the employer his building requirements. This usually emerges as a list of needs, commonly referred to as “the brief”.
The brief is a statement that specifies the scope of the project. It defines the objectives to be achieved and lays out in a general way what the final product will accomplish. The brief can be prepared by the owner as a means of clarifying the need for the project, even before the project manager or design professionals are engaged; if used in this way, it will be the basis upon which those prospective consultants prepare their proposals. On the other hand, it can also be prepared with the help of the project manager or design professional after they are engaged. These consultants, with experience on similar projects, can assist the owner in identifying and clarifying needs and setting forth the project’s scope. A well-prepared brief, consisting of only a few pages, is essential in forming the basis for all that follows throughout the project life cycle. The development of the programme will logically follow from this initial defining statement.
When both site details and the major building requirements are known, preliminary designs can be prepared. At this stage, the architect will begin to select his team.
When preparing preliminary schemes, it is necessary to consider the comparative costs of alternative proposals, and for that purpose, a quantity surveyor should be appointed.
The architect’s process then follows often on the following lines:
- Preparation of preliminary schemes, including estimates, as part of a feasibility study.
- After approval by the employer, preparation of sketch plans and approximate estimates.
- Preparation of structural and services schemes either by consultants / specialist sub-contractors.
- Preparation of cost plans in consultation with the quantity surveyor.
- Preparation of working drawings, invitations for bids from specialist suppliers and sub-contractors, if these items are to be dealt with as prime cost sums.
- Preparation of bills of quantities with the quantity surveyor.
- Invite suitable contractors to bid. To enable them to reach a firm decision, they will be informed of the general nature of the work, the date when bills will be available, and the dates for submission of bids and completion of works.
- Formal invitation to bid with full documentation.
- Receipt of bids, advice to employer on the selection of contractor, and preparation of contract document.
- Supervision of construction work.
- Certifying payments to the contractor during the contract.
- Issuing variation orders and other architect’s instructions as necessary.
- Directing how provisional sums are to be spent.
- Securing and remedying defects at the end of the defects liability period.
- Certifying the final account.
- Closing–out the contract.
The architect acts as an expert adviser / agent for the employer. Where the architect is named in the articles of agreement, the contractor is justified in treating every order received from the architect as a direct order from the employer.
It is, however, unwise for the architect to issue a variation orders covering a significant variation to the contract, without receiving the employer’s prior approval.
Some architects’ main faults are issuing inadequate details, working to unrealistic programs, and mainly excessive changes to designs during construction.
For non-facility projects, the overall role of the engineer is much the same as that provided by the architect on facilities projects.
The engineer takes charge of the planning and design phase, coordinating the various parties and their activities, often including the contractor selection and project inspection tasks.
Depending on the project, the engineer (really many specialties) may be involved with utility studies, structural design, heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, data communications systems, roadway layout, pavement design, and earthwork and foundation systems.
For a facilities project, the engineer typically fills a supporting role, providing planning and design services in the geotechnical, structural, mechanical, and electrical aspects of the project.
The Quantity Surveyor
The quantity surveyor prepares schedules of quantities of the various project elements. Sometimes, this work is performed in conjunction with that of the cost estimator.
In many construction works, a schedule of quantities is prepared for most types of contracts, including lump sum and unit price. In other works, the quantity surveyor prepares schedules of quantities for unit-price contracts, while the quantity take-off work for lump-sum contracts is left to individual bidders.
Quantity surveys are conducted at various points during the planning and design phase, not only during construction document development.
Depending on the stage at which a quantity survey is performed, the quantities might include such detailed information as the number of cubic meters of a certain type of concrete and the number of linear meters of a certain size of communication cable. With less detail available, they might indicate the areas of different types of interior walls or even simply the volume or area of a facility devoted to certain types of use.
Construction cost, construction management, and construction communications are key problem areas for an employer who has commissioned an important building or engineering project. A quantity surveyor is professionally trained, qualified, and experienced in dealing with these problems on behalf of the employer.
He is essentially a cost expert whose main task is to ensure that the project is kept within the agreed budget and that the employer obtains value for money.
Some of the services he offers are preliminary cost advice and cost planning, preparation of bid documents, advice on the type of contract and method of obtaining bids, negotiation with contractors, valuation of work in progress, and settlement of the final account. He will at all times need to cooperate very closely with the architect.
Range of services that Quantity Surveyors can offer:
a) Feasibility studies.
b) Procurement procedure.
c) Budget Estimating.
d) Cost / Design comparison.
e) Contractual procedure.
f) Value advice.
g) Preparation of Bill of Quantities.
h) Bid evaluation and reporting.
i) Site re-measurements.
j) Rate negotiation.
k) Checking of monthly payments and final accounts.
l) Financial reporting and cash flow projections.
m) Claims assessment and negotiations.
n) Advice on and participation in arbitration.
Role of the Quantity Surveyor
As building work increased in volume and complexity, employers became dissatisfied with the method used for settling the cost of the work and recognized the advantage of employing an independent quantity surveyor. His job was to prepare an accurate bill of quantities to be priced by bidding contractors and measure and value any variations that might occur during the progress of the works.
An authoritative RICS report (1970) stated “the quantity surveyor’s role is to ensure that resources of the construction industry are utilized to the best advantage of society by providing, financial management for projects and a cost consultancy service to client and designer during the whole construction process”.
- Preliminary Cost Advice
- From the inception of a new building project, the quantity surveyor can give practical advice on the likely cost of the scheme.
- He can advise on the comparative costs of alternative layouts, materials, components, and methods of construction.
- He can also assess how long it will take to build and can produce estimates of future maintenance and operating costs.
- Once the employer’s brief is finished, the quantity surveyor can prepare a realistic budget and a cost plan showing the distribution of costs over the various elements.
- Cost Planning
- Cost planning aims to help all members of the design team to arrive jointly at practical and efficient designs for the project and to keep within the budget.
- Effective cost planning will help to ensure that everything follows in accordance with the estimate, from the successful contractor’s bid to the final project cost.
- If the employer decides to change his plans and introduce variations, the quantity surveyor will assess the cost implication.
- Constant monitoring means that the risk of overspending can be identified at an early stage and early corrective action can be taken.
- Cooperation between Architect and Quantity Surveyor – for cost planning
- The Quantity Surveyor acts as a specialist adviser to the architect on all matters concerned with building and engineering costs.
- He offers considerable assistance to the architect in advising on the financial effect of the design proposal. It helps in ensuring the money available is put to the best possible use and that final costs are kept within the agreed budget.
- Where the estimated cost of an element exceeds the cost target, then either the element must be re-designed or other cost targets reduced.
- Where several design elements would have to be adjusted to keep costs within the total cost limit, and if this would result in a building of undesirably low quality, the design team should request additional funds from the employer.
- The quantity surveyor’s cost information will vary from major design alternatives, such as the size and height of residential blocks, to cost studies into alternative forms of construction, cladding, and finishes.
- The fundamental question must often be asked such as “is this expenditure really necessary?” or “is there a better way of meeting the particular need?”
In the public and private Sectors
In both the public and private sectors, the quantity surveyor as a member of the design team and advises the employer and architects on the likely costs of alternative designs.
His advice enables design and construction at all stages to be controlled within predetermined limits of expenditure.
He prepares bills of quantities, negotiates with contractors, and prepares forecasts of final costs and valuation for payments to the contractor as work proceeds.
He is responsible for the measurement and valuation of variations in the work during the contract and for the preparation and agreeing of the contractor’s final account.
Appointment of an independent quantity surveyor
As long ago as 1983 the RICS (Quantity Surveying Division) encouraged the appointment of independent quantity surveyors to provide clients with truly independent and authoritative advice.
The client guide issued by the RICS on the above matter illustrates the advantages of appointing the quantity surveyor at the inception stage of a scheme so that he can give advice on costs and contractor procurement.
In the Contracting Organization
In contracting organizations, the duties of the quantity surveyor will vary according to the size of the firm employing him.
The quantity surveyor employed by the contractor will aim to secure maximum payments for the work done at the earliest possible time to avoid any possible cash flow problems. However, this has to be undertaken within the provisions of the contract. The contractor cannot receive more than his contractual entitlements.
The contractor’s quantity surveyor’s activities can include;
Preparing bills of quantities for small projects,
Collecting information about the cost of various operations from which the contractor can prepare future estimates,
Preparing precise details of the materials required for the contracts in hand,
Compiling target figures so that operatives can be paid production bonuses,
Preparing interim costing so that the financial position of the contract can be ascertained as the work proceeds and appropriate action is taken when necessary,
Planning contracts and preparing progress charts in conjunction with site management,
Making application to the architect for variation orders if drawings or site instructions vary the work,
Agreeing on the value of variations and subcontractors’ accounts, and
Comparing the costs of alternative methods of carrying out various operations such as temporary works so that the most economical can be adopted.
The project manager and their staff become important members of the building team.
It is likely that the project manager will be engaged early in the planning process and will serve throughout the project life cycle.
Also, the project manager might be engaged somewhat later in the process, after some of the preliminary planning and feasibility analysis is completed, especially if those early efforts were conducted within the owner’s organization.
The project manager will act on the owner’s behalf for the entire project and may serve in this role on multiple simultaneous projects.
As various sites are being investigated and especially after one has been selected, land surveyors may be engaged.
For building projects, this work includes investigation of property records, easements and rights of way, establishment or re-establishment of property corners and boundaries, determination of land contours and slopes, and location of existing improvements, natural features, and obstructions.
A pipeline or highway project can involve much preliminary route layout as various alternative routes are investigated.
This effort includes on-the-ground, aerial/photogrammetric, and satellite-based global positioning system methods that lead to route layouts, various kinds of maps, and geographic information system databases for use in project planning.
Surveyors may also be involved in the construction phase, but they are equally important as part of the planning and design team.
If funding is limited, the owner will desire an estimate of the final cost beginning early in the project’s life.
Obviously, until final construction contracts are arranged, this estimate can only be an approximation.
The cost estimator is responsible for compiling this information.
Cost estimates can be prepared at various levels of detail.
In the planning stage, little information is available about the physical properties of the project elements. Therefore, the estimate of cost has little detail. As more design is developed, the cost estimator provides more detailed cost numbers. The degree of accuracy improves as more detail is developed.
For example, early in the planning process, when little more than the total project area is known (and that perhaps only preliminarily), the cost estimate is probably accurate to within ±30%. Part-way through the design process, cost estimates has to be accurate to within ±20%. When final construction documents are ready for the tender process, an estimate of the accuracy of ±10% can be expected.
Although we imply that the cost estimator is a separate member of the team, often the architectural or engineering designer performs this task in association with the various design activities.
The term engineer’s estimate is often used for that estimate prepared after design development.
The Structural Engineer
He is commonly a consultant to the architect. The structural engineer would look at the proposed design from a ‘practicability of construction’ point of view. The architect will provide an artistic approach to the clients’ idea but the structural engineer will look at the design of the structure.
Structural Engineer provides specialized design advice which is coordinated by the architect. In civil engineering projects, the lead design engineer will generally be a civil engineer and will coordinate the design advice from other specialist engineers.
These specialist designers will often take on supervisory duties as well as design. The purpose would be to visit the site and inspect the work to ensure that the work is produced in accordance with the design.
The Civil engineer
Civil engineers are involved with the design, development, and construction of a huge range of projects in the built and natural environment.
Their role is central to ensuring the safe, timely, and well-resourced completion of infrastructure projects in many areas, including highway construction, waste management, coastal development, and geotechnical engineering.
Consulting civil engineers liaise with clients to plan, manage, design, and supervise the construction of projects. They work in several different settings and, with experience, can run projects as project managers. Within civil engineering, consulting engineers are the designers; contracting engineers turn their plans into reality.
Typical work activities include:
• Undertaking technical and feasibility studies and site investigations
• Developing detailed designs
• Assessing the potential risks of specific projects, as well as undertaking risk management in specialist roles
• Supervising bidding procedures and putting together proposals
• Managing, supervising, and visiting contractors on site and advising on civil engineering issues
• Managing budgets and other project resources
• Managing change (as the client may change their mind about the design) and identifying, formalizing, and notifying relevant parties of changes in the project.
• Scheduling material and equipment purchases and delivery
• Attending public meetings and displays to discuss projects, especially in a senior role
• Adopting all relevant requirements around issues such as building permits, environmental regulations, sanitary design, good manufacturing practices, and safety on all work assignments • Ensuring that a project runs smoothly and that the structure is completed on time and within budget
• Correct any project deficiencies that affect production, quality, and safety requirements before final evaluation and project reviews.
The contractor is the person or the firm who undertakes to complete a building project in accordance with the contract documents on behalf of the employer. He should have full control of all operations on site. It includes the works carried out by nominated subcontractors, with whom he has a direct contractual relationship through subcontracts.
Under the conditions of contract (JCT80), the contractor is to proceed regularly and diligently with the works and complete them by a specified date. Failure to comply with this requirement may render the contractor liable for the payment of liquidated damages.
He must insure the building operations against fire and possible injury to persons or property during the construction.
He receives all his instructions through the architect. But he has dealings with other parties to the contract, such as the quantity surveyor, when he measures and values completed work.
The contractor employs personnel to take charge of work on the site. For large projects, there can be a site agent, while on small schemes, a foreman will probably be sufficient. The contractor often employs a quantity surveyor to safeguard his financial interests.
Building services engineer
Building services engineers are responsible for ensuring the cost-effective and environmentally sound and sustainable design and maintenance of energy-using elements in buildings.
They have an important role in developing and maintaining buildings and their components, to make the most effective use of natural resources and protect public safety.
This includes all equipment and materials involved with heating, lighting, ventilation, air conditioning, electrical distribution, water supply, sanitation, public health, fire protection, safety systems, lifts, escalators, façade engineering, and even acoustics.
While the role increasingly demands a multidisciplinary approach, building services engineers tend to specialize in one of the following areas:
• Electrical engineering
• Mechanical engineering, and
• Public health.
Activities will vary according to the specialist area of work and whether the building services engineer is employed by a single organization or a consultancy, but tasks typically involve:
Advising clients and architects on energy use and conservation in a range of buildings and sites, aiming to minimize the environmental impact
Managing and forecasting spending, using whole life cycle costing techniques, ensuring that work is kept to budget
Developing and negotiating project contracts and agreeing on these with clients, if working in consultancy, and putting out tenders
Attending a range of project groups and technical meetings
Working with detailed diagrams, plans, and drawings
Using specialist computer-aided design (CAD) software and other resources to design all the systems required for the project
Designing site-specific equipment as required
Commissioning, organizing, and assessing the work of contractors
Overseeing and supervising the installation of building systems and specifying maintenance and operating procedures
Monitoring building systems and processes
Ensuring that the design and maintenance of building systems meet legislative and health and safety requirements.
The clerk of works
The clerk of works is the architect’s representative on site. He is usually a tradesman with many years of practical experience.
The job title ‘clerk of works’ is believed to derive from the thirteenth century when ‘clerics’ in holy orders were accepted as being more literate than their fellows and were left to plan and supervise the ‘works’ associated with the erection of churches and other religious property.
By the nineteenth century, the role had expanded to cover the majority of building works. Therefore, clerk of works was drawn from experienced tradesmen who had wide knowledge and understanding of the construction process.
The clerk of works is the person who must ensure the quality of both materials and workmanship. To this end, he must be impartial and independent in any decisions and judgments. They cannot normally, under the quality role, be employed by the contractor – only the client, and normally by the architect on behalf of the client.
Their role is not to judge, but simply to report (through exhaustive and detailed diary notes) all occurrences that are relevant to the role.