Construction Project Team – Roles and Responsibilities

Developing an effective specification strategy

When developing an effective specification strategy for your construction product it is important to create demand, to reduce the importance of price and transfer influence away from the supply chain to the manufacturer.

In the first instance, it is important to gain insight into the marketplace, not just via industry forecasts but also through feedback from your customers and potential customers. This fact gathering enables you to base your strategy on reality, answering real market demand.

Understanding your customers and their challenges empowers your specification strategy.

The construction of a building involves many people: Architects; Designers; Engineers; Contractors; Sub-Contractors all working together to meet the needs of the Client. These construction professionals are brought together for a specific construction project and then disbanded once construction is complete.

Researching your customer base allows you to target your marketing efforts, seeking to influence key decision makers at key points in the construction supply chain.

The Client:

The Client is at the head of the procurement chain; the Client influences what is to be constructed, where, when and by whom.

There are many client types, some know nothing about construction, others with large property portfolios, have an in-house expertise in construction. In addition to private sector clients there are also Public Sector clients.

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. Importantly your solution needs to be readily available and cost justifiable. This is because the Client wants a building to a set standard, on time and to budget. Therefore, 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.

 

The Architect:

The Architect starts with the client’s needs in terms of how the building is to be used and how the client wishes it to be perceived. This then has to be developed to meet the requirements of the Building Regulations and other performance aspirations, of which sustainability is often one.

The decision to specify a product is based on many factors, some of them conflicting. The overriding concern is that it is fit for purpose, performing its role effectively and throughout the design life of the building.

For architects, tools that help them to specify correctly are of importance, particularly since Grenfell. This is where the product manufacturer can provide BIM objects, technical literature or specification documents. Making it easy for the design team to have a greater understanding of how your product can be incorporated into their design and the benefits they will enjoy.

You need to find a way of getting the architect’s attention, and then reassuring them that your product ticks all of the boxes: functionality, reliability, sustainability, availability, aesthetics and value will be just some of their requirements.

 

The Engineer:

Civil Engineers are responsible for foundations and general structures, with additional qualifications they become Structural Engineers who design the skeleton or structure of a building. Others can include civil, M&E, fire, acoustic as well as further specialisms. Engineers want to ensure their designs satisfy given criteria; that they are safe, serviceable and perform well. They must ensure they do not bend, twist, collapse or vibrate and remain strong and secure throughout their life. Engineers will want to understand how your construction product meets those performance requirements.

Engineers will monitor the progress of a project and when work has begun, they should inspect the work and advise contractors. Very often they have to sign-off the sub-contractor’s installation, carrying the responsibility for any failure, so they should be vigilant about product selections.

 

The Quantity Surveyor:

The Quantity Surveyor or QS has significant influence on the selection of building products. Early in the construction project they will give advice on costs, helping establish total spend for project completion. Often, they will guide the Architect and/or Client when it comes to product specification, yet it would be wrong to consider that they are only interested in achieving the lowest price. They too will be looking for value, either in Capital Cost or Operational Cost as well as issues like good availability.

Some of the challenges facing the Quantity Surveyor are:

  • Quantity / stock monitoring
  • On site efficiencies
  • Product availability
  • Client management

Consider how using your product may help the Quantity Surveyor in the challenges they face. Can you provide guaranteed delivery, installation efficiencies speeding project completion, UK stock provision?

When marketing to the Quantity Surveyor it is important to sell-in these value benefits early in the design process. The Quantity Surveyor will often be the starting point for a project, undertaking a feasibility study and defining a budget. Between 70% and 80% of a project’s costs are decided at concept stage and if your product has not been included at this point it will be much harder to justify a price premium later, even if you can demonstrate superior value.

 

The Interior Designer:

Interior Designers are involved in the design or renovation of internal spaces, including structural alterations, furnishings, fixtures and fittings, lighting and colour schemes. The job combines the efficient and functional use of space with an understanding of aesthetics. Sometimes this will be a role performed by the architect. Designers are busy individuals who have a creative approach, yet this also requires technical interpretation.

They work closely with architects, engineers, and builders to determine how interior spaces will function, look, and be furnished. If your building product contributes to the aesthetics or spatial design of a building then you need to be engaging with the Designer as well.

The interior designer will provide advice and create designs for the layout and configuration of the internal space of a building or structure. They will often take responsibility for first fix installation such as kitchens, bathrooms and surfaces. Interior designers make interior spaces functional, safe, and beautiful by determining space requirements and selecting decorative items, such as colours, lighting, and materials.

The manufacturer needs to demonstrate how their product enhances: building productivity, spatial design, Interior performance and occupier experience, as well as how it contributes to the WELL Building Standard or BREEAM. If a decorative product they must provide adequate colour charts and samples to allow matching between materials.

 

The Contractor:

The Main Contractor oversees and manages the construction of the building for the Client, following the Architect and Engineers’ designs. The work is delivered under a contractual agreement. The Main Contractor will select specialist sub-contractors based on their capability, availability and price.

If a project is Design & Build, the Contractor will be directing the Engineer and Architect’s product selection. They will have in-house decision makers interpreting the Client’s needs and briefing the specifiers. They need to know that building work will not be delayed by lack of product availability and that product cost remains within the estimate, so they can remain profitable.

The manufacturer needs to demonstrate how selecting their product can help the contractor meet challenges such as:

  • Achieving project schedules
  • Meeting client needs
  • Remaining profitable

 

Conclusion

The construction marketer needs to understand this product dynamic, how it sits in the marketplace and how it measures up against competition. Through relationships with specifiers they need to identify influences. They also need to understand how each type of contract impacts specification and know the players involved and where the decision-making authority is. Through this a comprehensive marketing plan can be drawn up to target relevant decision makers at each stage of the construction process.

 

Further reading:

Understanding the Construction Product Specifier

Understanding the Construction Supply Chain – Targeting your Marketing Messages

 

    Principal Roles in the Construction Decision Making Unit