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Professionalism in the Construction Industry

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Construction
Wordcount: 3172 words Published: 13th Aug 2018

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Construction management is a challenging and demanding profession. In order to successfully complete a project, from the perspective of a Client, they will need the assistance of many construction professionals to help them realise their objective particularly from the feasibility to completion of a project. These construction professionals generally include architects, interior designers, surveyors, civil engineers, quantity surveyors, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers and structural engineers. These construction professionals have different specialities for example an architect will generally manage the design and construction of the project, whereas the structural engineer will ensure that the project is structurally stable, and the quantity surveyor will generally look after the financial aspects of a project.

2.0 The concept of Professionalism in the Construction Industry

In order to understand the concept of “Professionalism in Construction” we first must examine the terms “profession” and “professional”.

Carr (2000) suggests that wealth, prestige and self-regulation are characteristics of how you determine whether an occupation can be construed to be a Profession. In addition to this, Carr (2000) states that there are five further characteristic that allow you to determine whether an occupation can be said to be a profession and these include:-

“professions provide an important public service;

they involve a theoretically as well a practically grounded expertise;

that have a distinct ethical dimension which calls for expression in a code of practice;

they require organisation and regulation for purposes of recruitment and discipline; and

professional practitioners require a high degree of individual autonomy – independence of judgement for effective practice”

A Professional is said to be a person who is paid to undertake a specialised set of tasks and to complete them for a fee. Most professionals are governed by Professional Institutes who set the strict rules regulating their conduct and ethical behaviour. Professionals are said to be experts and/or specialists in the field that they participate. Professionals are said to have specialist knowledge in their particular field of work. The qualities and/or traits and/or attributes of a professional have been stated to be; trustworthiness, competent, respectful, displays integrity, considerate, courteous, dependable, cooperative, committed.

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Sockett (1993) believes that professional needs to be self-governed and their actions should be based on sound professional practices in their particular field. Sockett (1993) confirms that being a professional means having moral vision, sense, and purpose. In addition Sockett (1993) states that the essence of understanding the term professional is that it describes the persons behaviour and performance, but does not describe the person and their status. Maister (1997) argues that “Professional is not a label you give yourself, it’s a description you hope others will apply to you”

A professional will exhibited a high standard of professional ethics, while carrying out ones profession

Professionalism is said to be the demonstration of all the traits and/or attributes of being a professional and will decide how successful you are in your job. These traits include positive attitudes, courteous behaviour, good vocabulary, smart appearance, self-belief. The judgement of whether a person has Professionalism is subjective, and it is not solely because they wear a nice suit, but it’s a combination of these traits that give people the image of a professional. These traits and/or attributes are briefly discussed below:-

Attitude – No just whether a person is upbeat, a professional will find ways to overcome obstacles and find solutions to the problem.

Competence – You need to know what you’re talking about in your field of work and be able to recommend solutions.

Communication Skills – Be able to effectively communicate ideas, speak in clear terms and make complex subjects understandable to all concerned.

Appearance – Clean and appropriate clothing that fit properly will help portray the image of a professional (you don’t necessarily need an expensive suite)

Appropriateness – Keep thing appropriate and avoid going off on unrelated tangents.

Furthermore, professionals are expected to establish and maintain professional boundaries to enhance their professionalism within the construction industry. The need for Professional Boundaries are generally required to ensure that the Construction Professionals effectively communicate using appropriate language, keep information private and confidential, not to take advantages and exploit clients whilst engaged in their services, and not to fuel gossip in the office.

3.0 Who are the professional roles within the Construction Industry?

In the modern day construction industry, many managers, technical people, skilled, semi-skilled, unskilled people are needed in order to successfully complete the project on time and within budget. In order to effectively manage the many work items and/or construction related activities a professional project team is needed to make sure the project is constructed using the required technology, to the required standards and using the most cost effective methods. Each construction project will need a team to translate the design into reality. The team for a building project will generally consist of architects, interior designers, surveyors, structural engineers, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, quantity surveyors, building engineers, civil engineer. These construction professionals deal with a variety of the key activities that are required to manage the project i.e. time, money, equipment, technology, people management. These professional will look at a project from inception to completion. They will be challenged throughout the process to come up with innovated idea’s, solutions to overcome the many obstacles that they will be confronted during the course of the project and these may include:-

  • Organisation of resources
  • Sequencing of the various work items for the project
  • Achieving budgets
  • Completion of the various work items within the stipulated time
  • Integrating organisations
  • Balancing the conflict interest of the stakeholders and end users
  • Appreciation of the various technology and methods available to undertake the project.

It is the duty and obligation of each of the Construction professionals to exercise all reasonable skills, care and diligence and display their skills according to the Professional Standards that generally govern the disciple that they practice.

By looking at the four main professional roles in the construction industry and these include the Architect, Civil Engineer, Project Manager, Quantity Surveyor and their respective roles and responsibilities, this will give an insight into how these professionals succeed in the construction industry.

3.1 Architect Roles

An architect is a person that must be registered with a recognised Architect Registration Board in order to practice their profession. To practice architecture general means that a service in connection with the design and construction of a building has been offered. According to Bredemeyer Consulting (2006), a simplistic way of looking at the role of an Architect is that they create architectures, and their responsibilities included everything necessary to accomplish this. This includes creating the vision and the concept, then experimenting with the alternatives to make the vision and concept reality.

In addition to this, the Architect in conjunction with a team of construction professionals need to prepare the technical drawings and specification in order to make the vision a reality.

Similarly Architects during their construction role, advises the Client on awards of contract, monitors progress, responds to technical queries issued by the Contractor, issues supplementary drawing and specifications, reviews all technical and document transmittals issued by the Contractor, issues site instructions, provide contract administration, and certify the Contractors interim payment certificates. The role of the Architect will generally dependent on the nature of the appointment and the scope of their service agreement.

However, the role of the Architect is not just limited to these technical activities, particularly when you become more senior within an organisation, other challenging aspects of the role of an Architect will then come into play for example business strategy, organisational politics, consulting and leadership.

3.2 Civil Engineer Role

A Civil Engineer (in the context of this report the equivalent of an Architect albeit in the Civil Engineering industry) like an Architect, plans things, designs things, constructs things, improves things albeit in the field of infrastructure, bridges roads etc. There are a number of specialities that a Civil Engineer may specialise in, and these include geotechnical, structural, transportation, hydraulic and environmental, costal, material engineering. It is normal for a Civil Engineer to have graduated from a university with a degree, but it is not mandatory that a Civil Engineer needs to be licensed; this will depend entirely on where you live in the world. In the UK, a professional engineer may decide to join the Chartered Institute of Civil Engineers which is the equivalent of a licensed engineer in many other areas of the world.

Again like the Architect, the Civil Engineer (also known as a Resident Engineer) in the construction phase of a project will monitor the works to ensure that the required workmen and quality standards are being achieved and monitor the progress of the works. The Civil Engineer also advises the Client on awards of contract, responds to technical queries issued by the Contractor, issues supplementary drawing and specifications, reviews all technical and document transmittals issued by the Contractor, issues site instructions, provide contract administration, and certifies the Contractors interim payment certificates The role of the Civil Engineer will generally dependent on the nature of the appointment and the scope of their service agreement.

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3.3 Construction Project Manager Role

A Construction Project Manager (CPM) whilst being in charge of the project as a whole has four key areas to manage and these include; Time, Cost, Quality and Scope. The CPM must possess a number of general management skills in order to achieve the projects objects as well as Interpersonal skills and these are briefly discussed below:-

  • Time Management – Prepares the time schedule and monitors progress against the baseline programme
  • Quality Management – Ensure that the requirements of the specifications are adhered too
  • Cost Management – prepares the cost budgets and implements cost control measures
  • Resource Management – Identifies and manages the resources required to undertake the project – labour, plant, equipment, materials, subcontractors and specialised services.
  • Procurement – Purchasing / Hiring of all the required resources
  • Risk Management – Identification, classification, analysis and then formulating the appropriate risk response.
  • Integration Management – How to get all the various work items and stakeholders to work together in a systematic way to achieve the projects objectives
  • Project Scope Management – Identification and fulfilment of the project scope of works

Leadership skills, Influential Skills, Negotiation Skills, Persuasive, Conflict Management,

Project Manager’s wishing to obtain professional certification in Construction Project Management, may obtain them from the Project Management Institute.

3.4 Quantity Surveyors Role

A Quantity Surveyor (QS) is a professional working within the Construction Industry and is generally involved in the financial aspects of a project

The RICS (2003) identified that a QS should provide a number of services during the course of a project. In the pre-contract stage, the QS should help and prepare the preliminary cost plan, evaluate the various design proposals in terms of cost, implement cost control measures in the detailed design stage to ensure that the budget is not exceeded, maintain and develop the cost plan. During the tender stage, the QS should advise on the tender documentation and assist with the Architect / Civil Engineer on awards of Projects. The QS during the construction phase also needs to prepare recommendations for interim payments, post-contract cost control and final account. In addition to this, the QS should provide and price bills of quantities, prepare cost analysis, advise on financial implications, provide measurement of areas, provide advice on contractual matters.

There are many areas where a QS could specialise and these include construction, oil & gas, power industry, building, civil engineering. The Main distinction will be whether the QS is from a Professional Practice (often called a PQS) or those that work for the various construction organisations (often called Main Contractors QS).

To help maintain the standards of the professions, one of the many professional bodies such as the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors provides education, defines the standards, and sets strict codes of practice and ethics for all its members to follow

4.0 The concept and Practise of Professional Liability

At some stage in the career of a Professional, things will go wrong and will result in some else unfairly being subjected to harm and/or additional cost (in the context of a construction project, the “Employer”). This could be caused by an error, an act of negligence, or an omission during the course of a professionals work. The result of which will be a breach of a legal obligation and this is commonly known as Professional Liability. In order to protect themselves from such a liability, professionals can obtain professional liability insurance.

However in recent times, it has proved difficult to obtain this insurance which has led professional to look at the various other alternatives in the market that will help to protect them from Professional Liability.

Indemnity Agreements – By simply transferring the risk via indemnity agreements.

Evidence of Professional Liability from Design Professionals – A simple certificate of insurance that only gives the basic information i.e. the insured party, the insurer, policy number, policy term and limits. The full extent of the insurance coverage and/or limitation is not readily available.

Professional Protective Insurance – Provides first party indemnity for damages which are in excess of the professional liability insurance. This type of policy supplements the existing Professional Indemnity insurance where the Client desires further protection on a particular project.

Project Professional Liability Insurance (P.L.I) – Allows the Client to have the benefit of one project specific P.L.I policy where all the professional participating in a project are named on the one single site specific policy.

The role of Professional Organisation in the Construction Industry

Due to the ever changing world and construction industry, Professional Institutions are tasked with the role of raising professional standards, knowledge and training within the industry. To help achieve these goals, the institutions develop educational programmes to ensure that their members respond to the changing work environment and are equipped with all the knowledge and skills required to practice in their profession. In addition to this, Institutions strive to improve their service to both members and industry, encourage sustainable construction practices, publish both magazines and journals to help improve the knowledge of their members.

There are numerous Institutions that target specific disciplines for example; and to name but a few:- the Institute of Civil Engineer target Civil Engineers, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyor target Surveyors, the Chartered Institute of Builders target builders.

To become a member of an Institution, you must generally satisfy their academic requirements before undertaking their Professional Development Plan which aims to ascertain over a period of time whether you have the required skills and competences to qualify as a full member. Once qualified as a full member, the Institutions believe that Continual Professional Development (CPD) is an essential part of being a member. According to Construction Industry Council (UK), CPD is the “Systematic maintenance, improvement and broadening of knowledge and skills, and the development of personal qualities necessary for the execution of professional and technical duties throughout the working like”. In addition to the above, the Institution sets the ethical codes that govern how the Professional should conduct themselves whilst practicing their discipline.

The role of Construction related business organisations

One of the fundamental roles of the construction related business organisations is to provide its members with access to educational tools inclusive of industry news that they may not ordinarily be available in their profession. These organisations help construction business, professionals, students and others to:- maintain standards, guide them, strengthen economic performance, raise levels of knowledge and performance.

These organisations can be government departments, societies, and regulatory authorities and they include some of the following organisations:-

C.I.T.B – Construction Skills

Energy Saving Trusts

English Heritage

Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reforms (BERR)

7.0 Conclusion

Due to the rapidly changing and evolving construction industry, professionals are needed to maintain high standards and produce quality work. Therefore to standardise, regulate, maintain the knowledge needed by professionals in industry, the role of Institutions and the construction related businesses will continue to be needed by their members for many years to come.


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