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Have you ever wondered who does what and why on a construction project?
You’re not alone. In fact, whether you are the client with a project to be delivered, a project manager putting together the team, are involved in the procurement of materials or services, or are simply intrigued by the complexity of the construction industry, this guide to 75 construction roles for development projects in the UK will enlighten, educate and maybe even surprise you a little.
As you can imagine, an exhaustive list of roles would be a tall order – not to mention unlikely to hold your attention throughout. Instead, this article looks at the main contributing roles to construction projects in the UK. It’s also worth noting that not every role is needed for every project.
If you notice a role missing that you think should be added – let us know and we’ll arrange an update.
So, without further ado, let’s get started. For ease of reference the roles are in alphabetical order.
Acoustic consultants design, assess, manage and control sound and vibrations within and around buildings. They provide advice to architects and other designers and may also be involved in noise, compliance and vibration monitoring and testing. They may also be referred to as Acoustic Engineers.
If a contractual dispute arises on a development project, there may come a time that an adjudicator is needed. Their role is to review evidence and carry out investigations. The adjudicator is an independent third party whose role is to review evidence and the outcome of investigations. They will then make decisions to determine the outcome of the dispute, these decisions are usually binding unless the contract states otherwise.
Arbitration is the private and contractual form of dispute resolution. Arbitrators commonly come from a technical construction background such as an architect. Arbitrators are trained and accredited by the CIArb or by the RICS. Typically organisations like the RIBA or CIOB would have a list of arbitrators to call on in the event they are required. Acting as an individual or as part of a panel, the arbitrator’s role is to resolve contractual disputes.
An arboriculturist carries out a different role to an arborist. You may also hear these roles being referred to as a Tree Surveyor/Tree Officer or a Tree Surgeon. Tree surveyors/officers complete Arboricultural Surveys regarding the condition and management of tree stock, whereas tree surgeons (or arborists) will be responsible for physical activities such as felling, cutting back and other maintenance.
Archaeologists are concerned with the preservation of historical remains. If a planning authority believes an area to be archaeologically sensitive, it can be necessary for an archaeologist to carry out surveys prior to any works commencing. Equally, if remains are discovered after work has started, they will halt whilst archaeological surveys are completed. The legislation around this role is extensive and complex and should usually be completed in the pre-construction phase of any development project.
Perhaps one of the most well known roles, the architect is responsible for building design. The title of architect is protected and therefore, whilst buildings can be designed by people who are not architects, they cannot use the title unless they are properly registered. It’s worth noting that architects do not have to be registered with RIBA to practice but they must be registered with the ARB.
An architectural technologist leads the technical aspect of building design. This means taking concept designs produced by building designers or architects and creating the technical specifications for the building to be built. They can become members of the CIAT which requires additional studying. An architectural technologist may also carry out tasks such as building inspections and contract administration during a development project.
Asbestos surveyors are tasked with inspecting buildings and collecting samples to establish the presence of asbestos within the building. Widely known as a dangerous and banned material, asbestos is still present in many buildings and as such, the identification of asbestos is required to ensure safe and professional removal prior to refurbishment or demolition.
A Bid Manager oversees all aspects of bid proposal preparation, ensuring quality, compelling bids are submitted in a timely manner. They review all customer requirements to ensure that they are met in the proposal and collaborate with all relevant parties in an organisation to include all necessary information within the bid proposals.
This role is not specifically defined due to the way Building Information Management (BIM) standards have been written. However, the role involves coordinating all BIM information and data about a development, including coordinating with various stakeholders and ensuring full records are maintained throughout the project
Again, the term BIM Manager is not referenced in the standards, however, you can expect the BIM manager to be responsible for the management and implementation of BIM throughout the project to final handover. This does differ to the role of Information Manager which is specified in the standards.
A Building Control Surveyor is responsible for ensuring compliance with regulations, standards and planning conditions is achieved within a development project. Building control surveyors may also provide advice and guidance before and during the project as well as require work to stop or be taken down if it is found to be non-compliant in any way.
A Building Services Engineer/MEP Engineer is responsible for the design, installation, commissioning and condition reporting of a building’s services (heating, water, ventilation, power, drainage, lighting, control systems etc). They may be a Chartered Engineer (CEng) via CIBSE or working through the professional pathway. In addition to compliance with building standards, a key part of this role now includes building performance in terms of sustainability and efficiency.
This seemingly simple term covers a huge remit regarding the assessment of all aspects of the project – from soil and site surveys, condition surveys, measured surveys, valuations, structural surveys, topographical surveys and so on. The role of building surveyor will usually be carried out by a chartered surveyor. Their formal, standalone reports give a snapshot of the building or project at any given time. The reports will also include advisory notes or recommendations as appropriate. It is important to commission the correct scope for surveys in order to ensure there are no omissions.
The 2015 CDM Regulations changed the requirement for Health & Safety requirements for projects involving more than one contractor. This replaced the role of CDM-C (CDMCoordinator) with the role of Principal Designer. A CDM Advisor will provide advice and guidance to the Principal Designer on the planning, management and implementation of Health & Safety during the project. On a development project, this includes consideration of things such as how the building will be constructed, maintained and even demolished in the future. It is important to appoint the CDM Advisor as early as possible during the pre-construction phase.
Working on behalf of the client, the Clerk of Works oversees the quality of the project during delivery. They may also be responsible for witnessing tests, monitoring project progress, assessing site conditions and providing regular reports. They will also maintain records of information relating to the site operation including weather and conditions, deliveries, drawings and instructions and other events that may affect the project.
Commercial agents specialise in the acquisition and disposal or leasehold and freehold non-domestic property. Therefore, if your project involves commercial premises either being built or refurbished, or you are acquiring a parcel of land for your development, you are likely to come across a commercial agent.
Depending on the size of your development project, you may appoint a commercial manager in addition to the cost consultant (see point 60 below). This is more common in large developments where the project is part of a wider programme of works.
A construction advisor is responsible for giving technical advice for all construction activities. Normally appointed by the client they provide reassurance that what is being proposed/delivered by the contractor is technically sound. You may also hear this referred to as a technical advisor.
A contract administrator (CA) is appointed by the employer to administer the contract between the employer and the contractor. This role is defined in the JCT standard form of contract and should not be confused with the Employer’s Agent role which is defined in JCT Design & Build contract as the obligation of the EA is to act solely for the employer which is not the case with the CA.
Construction law is a complex area including infrastructure, housing, planning, permissions, and construction and engineering. Construction lawyers are specialists in this field and work with clients, financiers and investors, architects and construction companies. They may be involved in your project from the perspective of negotiating contract terms, or they may become involved if a dispute arises.
If you are using the construction management procurement route, the construction manager is the person responsible for procuring and managing trade contractors who complete the construction works and are appointed directly by the employer. The construction manager is also appointed by the employer under a management appointment and may also be responsible for project/design management together with cost planning and control, depending on the terms of appointment.
The complex contractual nature of development projects can mean that a contracts manager is appointed to manage the contracts pertaining to one, or more projects. This role appears to take on many of the same responsibilities of the project manager but is actually responsible for the contractual obligations of the development as opposed to the project delivery.
If you have ever bought, or sold property, you will be familiar with this role as the solicitor who is responsible for acting for either the vendor or the buyer and who completes the conveyancing process – this being the transfer of property ownership, contracts of sale and so on.
A developer is the person, or organisation whose business derives (or seeks to derive) profit from the construction, redevelopment or refurbishment of buildings. Whilst there are some similarities between developers and investors, they are not the same thing as investors will usually buy completed buildings in order to generate income from them, or sell them again at a profit.
You are increasingly likely to find that your contractor has a design manager on their team. They work to develop the client’s brief and manage the flow of design and production information across the project teams. It’s important to note that this is a management and coordination role and the design manager is not designing the building themselves.
Document control is an integral part of the smooth delivery of a project. Maintaining a common data environment and ensuring that drawings, instructions and variations are properly tracked and issued, as well as managing the status of various project documents is the responsibility of the document controller. This role will usually conform to the requirements of ISO9001 although it will be a common system for all parties to the project rather than an organisation specific one. This postholder may also fulfill the role of data controller as determined by GDPR.
If your project involves the movement of water, or sewage, from one place to another, you will need to engage a drainage engineer who can advise on, design and oversee the installation of a safe drainage system. If your project involves the refurbishment of an existing building with no change to services, you may not need to engage a drainage engineer.
Property development can be a high stakes business so it’s important to ensure that you are making sound investment decisions. A due diligence survey is more detailed than a full building survey. It will assess if the building is fit for your intended purpose now and in the future depending on your plans. You can expect the surveyor to comment on everything from the M&E of the building to any statutory undertakings you will be committed to .
An ecologist provides ecological surveys to report on the impact a development project will have on the wildlife, plants and animals in the area. There is extensive legislation supporting the work of ecologists in order to preserve natural habitats.
The CIOB defines the client as “the entity, individual or organisation commissioning or funding the project, directly or indirectly.” The client may also be referred to as the employer.
Employer’s Agent (generally referred to as EA) is the term used for someone appointed to act on your behalf and fulfil your obligations. Ideally, you appoint your Employer’s Agent as early as possible in the project life-cycle.
If you are seeking to achieve a specific environmental standard for your development, such as a BREEAM rating, you will require the services of an environmental assessor to assess the environmental impact of the development. This is likely to become increasingly important as the Uk strives to achieve ever more challenging sustainability targets in response to the climate change emergency.
An environmental consultant brings a wealth of expert advice to your project and is more and more commonly being appointed at early stages in a project’s development in order to contribute to the planning and decision making process for new developments. In addition, they can carry out environmental audits, contamination surveys, remediation strategy and action plans.
Typically involved during the tender process, an estimator is responsible for calculating how much it will cost a supplier, often the company they are employed by, to provide the service they are bidding for. They may work closely with a QS to provide a Bill of Quantities to support the estimating process. An estimator will be keen to balance the need for submitting a competitive bid with the need to make a reasonable profit on the project.
A bit like the cover of a book – the facade of the building makes a substantial contribution to the overall success of the project. Facade consultants are involved in managing the technical demands of the building to achieve the design criteria.
Facilities managers are responsible for the operation and maintenance of the building’s systems and service. This includes planning and budgeting for routine maintenance as well as arranging emergency repairs and maintenance when necessary.
FFE stands for furniture, fittings and equipment and you will find FFE consultants advising on the design, specification, procurements and installation of FFE within your project.
Fire consultants/engineers provide fire safety design, advice and risk assessment in order to deliver a building that is safe for use at the end of the project. Their primary aim is to create buildings that minimise the risk of fire whilst maximising the protection of building users in the event of a fire occurring.
A form of civil engineering, geotechnical engineers are concerned with the structures foundations and requires the assessment of data sets and ground conditions to devise ways to ensure the structural stability of foundations.
The Health & Safety Manager is responsible for the health & safety systems and implementation of safe working practices within the workplace. Their priorities are to prevent risk, reduce risk where it cannot be avoided and mitigate the impact of remaining risks. This role is also responsible for health surveillance activities such as ensuring that operatives adhere to working time limits, are appropriately trained, and have the appropriate PPE. In addition, this role is responsible for the site’s legal compliance. Ideally this role should be performed by an appropriately qualified person.
Another form of civil engineering, infrastructure engineers ensure the facilities needed for a functioning community are in place. This includes travel networks (roads, rail, bridges), drainage networks, utilities supplies and so on.
Interior designers plan and design the interior finish of buildings. This may be purely aesthetic or may be to create an environment that fulfills specific functions.
Unlike a Building Surveyor, a land surveyor is concerned with the land the building (or proposed building(s)) will sit on. This includes the type of land, and potential problems, but also the boundaries of the land to ensure that you are not encroaching on land that does not belong to you, or that the project is properly positioned within the boundaries.
A landscape architect is responsible for the design of the external spaces on building projects, they play a key role on schemes ensuring the building works are enhanced by the environment around them.
Acting on behalf of the client, lift consultants ensure the lift requirements in a building are met. This could be the installation of a new lift, modernising an existing lift or managing the maintenance requirements of a lift portfolio.
They oversee and manage the construction through to completion of a project under the terms and conditions of a building contract. The main contractor can utilise and manage subcontractors for specific parts of the works.
The MEP coordinator (Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing), co-ordinates all works relating to MEP on a project.
A monitoring surveyor is appointed to protect the interests of the parties that have a financial interest in the project but have no direct involvement in the build process. They monitor the progress of the works and approve the drawdown of funds when required. If your project is being funded by a bank or an investor, for example, they may appoint a monitoring surveyor.
A party wall surveyor provides a specialist role in resolving disputes between neighbours under the Party Wall Act 1996. They will seek to resolve matters in a fair and amicable way and have a duty to act impartially, not just to the individuals appointing them.
Planning consultants play a big part on a project, they offer a wide range of advice on all matters concerned with planning, development and environmental issues relating to the project. They can vary from being actively involved with all stages of the planning process or merely an outside expert who helps guide decisions.
A planning manager is a construction professional who develops programmes/schedules for projects to ensure the project is delivered safely, on time and to budget.
The principal designer is responsible for taking control of the pre-construction phase of the project by planning, managing, monitoring and coordinating health and safety requirements. The role is required under the 2015 Construction (Design and Management) Regulations.
The Principal Contractor is the contractor with overall control of the construction phase of a project when a project involves more than one contractor. They are appointed by the client to plan, manage, monitor and coordinate health and safety during the construction phase.
A Procurement Manager is responsible for purchasing goods and services to ensure the project’s financial and quality goals are achieved.
A project administrator reports to the project manager and assists them with the overall delivery of the project.
The project manager will be responsible for planning, organising, and directing the completion of construction projects for the client while ensuring these projects are on time, on budget and within scope. They may also administer the contract in the contractual capacity of the project manager, employers’ agent or contract administrator.
A project surveyor works for the contractor. They are responsible for providing cost planning advice during the design stage of a project and then monitoring the actual costs against the budgets whilst the project is being constructed. They will track changes made post contract execution and adjust cost plan forecasts accordingly.
This is a particularly specialist area which is concerned with the enjoyment of natural light within the built environment. You might need a right-of-light surveyor to carry out calculations about how your development project will affect other buildings in the surrounding area, or how much natural light will be available to building users as a result of the building’s design and orientation on the plot.
Also known as a cost consultant or commercial manager, the role of the quantity surveyor (QS) on a development project is to ensure your project is affordable within the budget, offers good value for money and to assist in managing the impact of any changes or variations throughout the project. The QS will often also provide advice on a variety of aspects including the procurement of materials or services, providing regular financial reports (including cash flow and projected out turn) and to completing the final account.
A risk manager is responsible for proactively identifying, assessing and managing risks in your project and then implementing strategies that allow you to optimise the success of your project.
This is the agent engaged to sell, or let, your completed project. If the project is a residential development this will be an estate agent, if the property is a commercial building, you may use the services of a commercial agent.
This crucial role uses site plans and precision instruments to pinpoint and mark key structural features before construction work commences. The setting out engineer will use data gathered from various surveys, as well as the building plans and models to precisely mark out the site.
The site manager is responsible for the successful delivery of the onsite construction phase of the project. Whilst similar to the project manager’s role, the site manager oversees site activities and not the whole project.
The structural engineer is responsible for designing and planning building foundations, drainage solutions and building structure, while ensuring that they are safe and capable of withstanding the elements to which they will be exposed.
These are companies or people who the management or main contractor procures to carry out the items of works identified in the project plan.
A sustainability consultant is employed to give advice on ways to improve sustainability and environmental performance, including advising on new and emerging technologies, renewable energy solutions and decarbonisation. They may also be called an environmental consultant or environmental management consultant.
Tax advisors may be specialist construction accountants or, in some cases, specialist quantity surveyors. It is advisable to seek specialist tax advice at an early stage in your project in order to make the necessary tax planning decisions in good time.
If your project requires temporary works to be completed in order to deliver the permanent project, you will need to engage a temporary works designer. Examples of this may be if you need to move building occupants temporarily so that you can complete a refurbishment, or if you need to evacuate a site in order to demolish an existing building and need to re accommodate the occupants. This may involve the siting of temporary buildings, temporary supplies, drainage and access routes for example.
A transport engineer is concerned with the design of transport infrastructures such as rail networks, highways, airports, bridges, tunnels and the like. They will base their work on detailed data sets and seek to provide solutions that are fast, efficient, cost effective and convenient.
Traffic engineers work to create the safe movement of traffic through our roadways taking account of traffic flow, and giving consideration to alternative transport options (bus/cycle lanes), the need of pedestrians, road markings and signage, and road layouts. They will often be involved if your project involves the need for new road openings or fr temporary closures during construction.
Utilities engineers are responsible for designing the utilities infrastructure required for your project. For example, if the project is a new build development, you will need to bring mains water, power and gas onto the site to connect the building to. According to the British Property Federation, utilities delays are cited as one of the most common causes for construction project delays.
Valuation surveyors are usually appointed by the vendor, this may have taken place before you were seeking to acquire a parcel of land or a property for your project, or you may appoint one later in the project when you are seeking to sell any part of the development. They will provide a market valuation based on the condition of the property or building.
Value engineering is most likely to be facilitated by the QS or cost consultant, involving all of the project team, and should commence at the earliest stage of the project in order to achieve maximum benefits. RICS draws a clear distinction between value management and value engineering.
The NEC form of contract defines the works supervisor as the role responsible for managing the quality of the project. The NEC supervisor is required to oversee tests and inspections by the contractor and is responsible for the notification of defects. This is a key role in the quality management of a development project.
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