The stages of work for a construction project can be summarised in the following table (the full outline of work stages proposed by the Royal Institute of British Architects is downloadable below).

Overall Stage

RIBA Work Stages

Main Client Input


Work Stage A

Approval of brief

Option appraisal and outline business case

Selection and agreement of consultant professionals and Procurement method(s)

Work Stage B
Design Brief


Work Stage C

Input to specification

Approval of final designs

Work Stage D
Design Development

Work Stage E
Technical Design


Work Stage F  Production  Information

Tender Review and  contractor selection 

Final Procurement and contract approvals 

Work Stage G
Tender Documentation

Work Stage H
Tender Action


Work Stage J Mobilisation

Receive progress reports

Site visits

Approval of amendments 

Work Stage K
Construction to Practical Completion

Work Stage L
Post Practical Completion

Download a fuller version of this table at the end of the page

Although these are the main common stages of the process it can vary based on the nature of the project:

  • Size and complexity - this will affect some elements such as the professionals involved, the fees that are payable and the type of contract used. This may vary depending on the type of asset involved, the organisation driving its development and any special requirements (some may want training provision in their building contract for example). Some larger projects may require a specific procurement process under European rules and limits and others may need a dedicated project manager who can also act as the Employers Agent or Clerk of Works during the contract stage.
  • Availability of resources - projects may have to be phased to accommodate the resources available. Many projects combine the initial stages of inception and feasibility with the production of a report - to be used as the basis for securing further resources to develop and implement the project in detail - so there may be delays between stages as funding is secured. 

Construction Professionals

Fees for professionals involved in the process will vary considerably and are often based on the overall value of the contract for the project. All the fees involved are negotiable, and can be based on lump sums, time charges or percentages of the contract sum. Not all the professionals listed are involved in all projects depending on their scale and complexity and the nature of construction involved (new build or refurbishment)

Professionals involved in construction and development of land and buildings



The Architect

  • Produces overall design and co-ordinates specialist inputs from others.
  • May administer Contract on organizations behalf
  • Submits Planning and Building Control Applications as Agent

The Quantity Surveyor

  • Compiles Bill of Quantities based on drawings and specifications
  • (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors)
  • Organises Tender, checks Tender returns, writes Tender Report Carries out monthly Valuations during Contract

Planning Supervisor

  • Oversees health and safety procedures during design, demolition, construction and use of building.
  • Role defined under Construction Design and Management (CDM) Regulations

Structural Engineer

  • Works with architect to design structural elements of design.
  • Provides calculations and certification to Building Control and specifications and details to Contractor.

Mechanical & Electrical Services Engineer

  • Works with architect to design heating, lighting, ventilation etc. elements of design.
  • Provides information to Building Control and specifications and details to Contractor

Landscape Architect

  • Works with architect to design landscape elements of design.
  • Possible input at Planning Stage

Employers agent, project manager, Clerk of Works

  • Appointed to act as the employer for a contract. The role is often defined in the contract itself but often includes issuing instructions, inspecting works, and certifying works.

The Contract

The type of contract used in a project is an important decision for any client and their advisors. Different contract types provide differently for factors such as:

  • Cost certainty - whether they need to be firmly fixed before starting construction 
  • Client involvement - whether the client is able or willing to be closely involved with the project   
  • Clarity of remedies if things go wrong - who bears what responsibilities
  • Dealing with complexity - whether the works are large scale or particularly specialised 
  • Capacity for variations/flexibility - particularly if some aspects of the design cannot be decided in detail by the client 
  • Separation of design and management It will be important for an organisation taking on the client role to seek specific guidance on the type of contract best suited to their project. 

Related Resources

RIBA Work Stages

The stages of work for a construction project proposed by the Royal Institute of British Architects

Microsoft Office document icon RIBA Work Stages