The Construction Project Team – the Role of the Client (Guest Article)

Specialist construction sales and marketing consultancy, Competitive Advantage, takes a look at the role of the client and their influence on product specification.

The Client is at the head of the procurement chain; ultimately the Client decides what is to be constructed, where, when and by whom. In this article, we take a look at the role of the Client in the construction Project Team and their influence on construction product specification.

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The construction of a building will involve a design team; Architect, Engineer, Specialist Consultant, Interior Designer. And a delivery team: Main Contractor and Specialist Sub-Contractors. They all work together to meet the needs of the Client who will have defined the aesthetic and functional needs for their building. They fund the project either directly or in-directly. They arrange for the design work, engage the Contractor and initiate the work.

The Building Client and Product Specification
There are many client types, some know nothing about construction, others with large property portfolios, have an in-house expertise in construction. There will also be a number of influencers. These include, but are not limited to, Investors, Owner, Tenants, Quantity Surveyor and Consultants for a range of activities including security, fire safety and sustainability. If a commercial operation, such as retail or a hotel, the Client’s marketing team will also have an input.

It is important to recognise that the initial stages of a project can have a significant influence on the products used, with 70% to 80% of the cost of a project decided at concept stage.. 

construction client flowchart

Find out more: Get Understanding the Public Sector Client now.

Different Types of Contract
The Client will select the form of contract to use for the project. Most popular are Traditional and Design & Build. But there are a number of others. Factors influencing selection include the client’s experience, the purpose of the building, project complexity and the delivery timescales.

With traditional contracts, the Architect will be responsible for delivering the Client’s requirements and along with the Engineers will have final say over product selection.

But on a design & build contract, it is the Contractor who will make the final product selection, with the architects and engineers working to his brief.

The project type will also influence product selection. With traditional contracts, features such as sustainability and operating and maintenance costs will get priority, over the capital cost and installation cost which tend to get priority with design & build.

Influencing Specification
The manufacturer needs to demonstrate that their product:

  • can help meet the buildings aesthetic and functional objectives
  • meets or exceeds regulations
  • can help with safety and performance standards
  • is sustainable and can provide long-term benefits during the operation of the building, as well as being easy to maintain.

Manufacturers that support BIM will also have an advantage. There are clear benefits to Client and Contractor to design with BIM. As well as allowing collaborative design, it also eases the process of providing operating instructions for future maintenance and by providing higher levels of easily accessible information can reduce operating costs.

Importantly your solution needs to be readily available and cost justifiable. This is because the Client wants to deliver a building to a set standard, on time and to budget, whilst also achieving a profit and maintaining reputation.

Further reading:

How Contract Type Affects Construction Product Specification
Understanding the Construction Product Specifier
Researching Construction Personas to Inform your Specification Strategy

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