A construction project is a task undertaken in the production of construction products. The term project in this context is being used for the total activity from inception to commissioning and occupation, involving an agreed and planned objective and total input of specialist participants and their interrelationships. It is a temporary non-recurrent activity that is started, implemented, evaluated and terminated. This activity is undertaken in response to demand (direct, derived, individual or collective) for construction activity. Moreover, the activity is complex and, hence, necessitates the input of large numbers of participants with different disciplines to carry out the separate but interrelated functions of design, engineering, costing, pricing, and production. The participants who are engaged to work on the project are mainly unaccustomed to working with each other and, hence, projects activity imposes a special demand on team building and motivation. In addition, every participant should be made aware of all the governing conditions, objectives, responsibilities, relationship and basic parameters of the construction project.
Construction projects vary considerably in size and complexity. Moreover, generally complex projects tend to be large amount of service element. This complexity poses major problems of bounded rationality, risks and uncertainty.
The participants to construction project procurement are the client (who is the initiator), the multi-disciplinary construction consultants (who act as the client’s professional advisers) and the building contractor (who constructs the building).
Together, this group of participants takes on and manages sequence of distinct but unrelated activities of the construction process from beginning to the end. A construction project, to all intents and purposes, is the production of capital goods and, like any other capital investment, involves careful planning and decision making.
Construction projects generally are complex and composed of many activities. It is this complexity that calls for the input proposals of designers, contractors, suppliers and statutory authorities for their production. Although thee procurement method adopted may vary the relationship of the participants, there will always be a proposer (client), designer (architect/engineer), construction team (builder), statutory authorities (gas, electricity, fire and water) and area local authority.
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A. The Client
The client is the key to the whole construction production process from inception to completion and at times to post-occupancy maintenance. Without the client there would be no construction project. Construction industry clients either identify user potential or create the need for the facilities and raise the necessary financial resources for their creation. They initiate the construction process by commissioning various construction professional to build to specific requirement.
During the design and construction phases, the client directly or indirectly monitors progress, time, cost, and quality objectives and sanctions any necessary major variations to the design. Finally, on completion, it is the client who either disposes of the product at the marketplace or takes occupation and bears the repairs and maintenance cost of his/her investment. Therefore, the construction industry looks to many clients for work and, generally, these may be classified as public sector clients or clients from the private sector.
A1. Public sector client
These are public authorities whose operations are governed generally by Acts of Parliament. They act as agents for the central government who exercise control over their capital building programmes and expenditure. The key public sector clients for the UK construction industry are:
Central government department, who are responsible for their own programme of construction on projects.
Local authorities, who are responsible for the provision of housing, school, libraries, swimming pool, halls, sports centers and the like.
Some health authorities, which are responsible for hospital buildings.
Public corporations (e.g. British Rail and Air Transport boards), who are responsible for the provision of buildings and other construction products for their own use.
A2. Private sector client
These are private companies that build for leasing, renting, sale or own occupation. The central government only exercises a limited amount of control over their operations (e.g. planning controls for proposed development). The private sector clients for the construction industry are many and may be classified as follows:
Multi-national companies (e.g. Ford, Cadbury’s. ICI and Esso) who construct factories, production plants, offices and distribution depots for their own use.
National companies (e.g. Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Woolworth’s) who construct buildings for their own use in warehousing and retail.
Local property development companies, who construct offices, factories, shops and houses speculatively for hire, lease or sale.
Private clients, who construct new buildings, or extent, refurbish or repair the existing building for own occupation, letting, leasing or sale.
B. Consultant office (The Design Team)
All the developing design stage it is imperative that architectural design and details are well integrated with those of structural, mechanical and electrical engineers. The architect as the design team leader is responsible for design integration. And all the design team members are playing the important role during the design stage.
Traditionally, the design function in the construction process is the responsibility of an architect who is a professionally qualified person whose role is to interpret the client’s project requirements into a specific design or scheme. Design is taken to include appearance composition, proportion, structure, function and economy of product, but in addition the architect performs the function of obtaining planning permission for the scheme. In most times, too, the architect supervises and organizes the entire construction process, starting with consulting with the client and ending with commissioning. As an established practice, the architect plays the leading role in the construction process. He or she collects, coordinates, controls and disseminates project information to all project participants. As a project team leader, the architect performs various functions in all stages of construction process, which includes:
- Ascertaining, interpreting and formulating the client’s requirement into an understandable project brief.
- Designing a building to meet the client’s requirement and constraints imposed by such factors as statutory obligations, technical feasibility, environmental standards, site conditions and cost.
- Bringing together a team of construction professionals such as the quantity surveyor, structural engineer and service engineer to give expert guidance on specific points of the client’s construction project.
- Assessing client’s cost limit and timescale, and specifying the type and grade of materials/components for use on the construction project.
- Preparing production information for pricing and construction and inviting tenders from building contractors.
- Supervising the construction on sire, constantly keeping client informed of the project’s progress and issuing production instructions as and when required.
- Keeping the client informed of the status of the project’s cost and advising ion when payment should be made or withheld.
- Advising on the conduct of the project generally and resolving all contractual disputes between client and the building contractor.
- Issuing the certificate of completion, the certificate of making good defects and the final certificate for payment.
Generally, the architect acts as an agent for all purposes relating to designing, obtaining tenders for and superintending the construction work for whish he or she has been commissioned. To be able to perform above function efficiently, the architect must process, among other things, the attributes of foresight, an understanding of construction materials, communicating and coordinating abilities, essential design skills and an ability to design within a set budget.
B2a. The Structural Engineer
The structural engineer acts as an advisor to the architect on all structural problems such as stability of the structure, suitability of materials proposed, structural feasibility of the proposed design and sizes of structural members for a construction project. Normally, the structural design engineer submits his/her various structural calculations to the area local authority for approval at the same time as the architect submits his/her drawings for building regulations approval. In addition, the structural engineer performs structural design and supervises his or her specialist area of the construction project during production on site.
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B2b. The Services Engineers
Like the structural engineer, the services engineers (plumbing, electrical, heating and ventilating, air conditioning, sanitation, lifts and escalators and so on) contribute to the building design process to ensure that thermal and visual comfort are achieved effectively. For this reason, they analyze the client’s requirement and priorities and advise the architect on the most appropriate design solution. They prepare diagrams of their proposals or services layout of the proposed construction project on the separate drawings and the architect includes these in the tender drawings sent out to contractors for competitive bidding. Once the services engineers have made their contributions to the design, they ensure that their contributions have been correctly interpreted, installed and commissioned. Where services engineers’ design layout causes any structural problems, the advice of the structural engineer is sought. There is also a need for the architect to coordinate the route of pipes, cables and ducts for various services on the project.
The duties and responsibilities of the structural and services engineer include the following:
- Providing specialist advice and assisting in the design of the construction project within the scope of their respective specialist field.
- Producing calculations or other relevant data to assist in the design, cost planning, and the assessment of suitability of materials/components and the like.
- Supervising their respective specialist fields of the project and modifying or redesigning work whenever required.
B3. The Quantity Surveyor
The quantity surveyor is responsible for the study of the economies and financial implications of a construction project and, hence, he or she would be the appropriate construction professional to advise client/architect on matters relating to the economies and cost of a proposed construction project. Traditionally, quantity surveyors organize themselves into small practices; however, many are now to be found in contracting and client organizations. Those in private practice are mostly chosen and appointed by clients on the recommendation of an architect.
As cost is one of the deciding factors in most construction projects, the quantity surveyor is brought in at the earliest opportunity to advise the client or architect on the cost of various schemes proposed. The quantity surveyor is also able to perform several functions on construction projects, and these may be summarized as follows:
- Preparation of preliminary cost advice and approximate estimating.
- Preparation of cost plan and carrying out cost studies (investment appraisal, life cycle costing and the like).
- Preparation of contract documentation for contractor selection and construction project administration.
- Evaluation of contractors’ tenders received with documentations for acceptance or rejection.
- Preparation of cash flow forecasts and institution of post-contract cost monitoring/reporting mechanisms.
- Valuation of variations that arise as the works proceed and preparation of interim valuations at regular intervals.
- Preparation of periodic cost report for the architect or client.
- Preparation and agreement of final account with the contractor.
- Evaluation and settlement of contractor’s claim for direct loss and/or expenses.
- Settlement of contractual disputes.
C. The contractor
The production aspects of construction projects are undertaken by building contractors who are essentially commercial companies that contract to construct development projects. Although many major contracting establishments are able to undertake both design and production work, their primary function is to build and to organize their considerable resources basically as a manufacturing organization.
Duties and responsibilities of the contractor commence upon invitation to tender and include the following:
- Carrying out a full site investigation prior to submission of tender to ensure that the bid includes all the cost of contractual risks and problems.
- Submitting priced bills of quantities for examination and/or correction of any errors when required by the architect.
- Planning and programming the works and reprogramming thereafter whenever unforeseen events frustrate the program.
- Controlling directly employed operatives, sub-contractors, suppliers, materials and plant for the execution of the project to programme and cost.
- Coordinating efforts of all operatives and ensuring that the completed works comply with the contract specification and are also to the satisfaction of the architect.
- Notifying the architect of information requirements, delays to the construction programme, discrepancy between contract documents, direct loss and/or expense sustained and so on.
- Paying the wages of directly employed operatives, sub-contractors and suppliers in time to avoid conflicts over payment.
- Supplying all the information required by the client’s professional advisers for the proper administration of the works.
- Taking steps to carry out the contractor’s obligations to rectify all defects on completion of the works.
- Providing post-occupancy repair and maintenance service if so required by the client.
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