Client role

During the build process you will be dealing with professional advisors, and you will be their client.

It is very important to remember this and to be confident of what it is you want from your professional advisors, instructing them accordingly. You want to be creative and excited where building projects are concerned but you don't want to have  a shock when the project is finished and it becomes apparent that 'we did not think about that'.

Taking on client responsibilities in most asset project is combined with being the actual owner/manager afterwards. This means that your organisation will bear the brunt of any mistakes made that relate to the viability of the land and building, its uses and the sustainability of its operation and management into the future. It is important therefore that this process allows a focus on your requirements as the eventual owner and operator of the land and buildings.

Throughout the design process, as the client, you should be scrutinising drawings as they emerge with a view to addressing the question of how the asset will run and how much it will cost to run.

Client Role

As the client, you will be a vital part of the design and construction team. Professionals and contractors will be employed by you to deliver the building you require. As a client you will have to:

  •  make decisions and choices, and communicate them to your design team
  • enter into legally binding contracts for services
  • issue and confirm instructions
  • attend design team and site meetings
  • pay bills and invoices on time
  • discharge your responsibilities under the Construction, Design and Management Regulations (CDM) – the main laws relating to health and safety in construction.

In practice, for all but very small contracts, you should appoint a project co-ordinator from within your organisation to be the main point of contact for all communications.This means that one person has a view of the whole process, understands the responsibilities, and issues clear, consistent instructions.

For larger projects this may equate to a part-time job in order to make the necessary daytime contacts and meetings. This does not mean the project co-ordinator needs to operate alone. They may still make regular reports to a committee and may need to call meetings at short notice to resolve particular issues or advise of a significant new development or risk. However there will be a considerable number of smaller decisions that will need to be made on a day-to-day basis. Your project co-ordinator should be given the freedom to make these decisions, with the organisation’s support.  

Whole Life Costing

The most beautiful and inspiring building in the world can also be an expensive headache, but it is possible to have beauty and inspiration and an asset that is not a drain on the resources of the organisation that owns and manages it.

To avoid an asset becoming a drain on resources it is necessary to think about the whole life costing of a project. This is 'the systematic consideration of all relevant costs and revenues associated with the ownership of an asset'. Typically a surveyor estimates over a 20-25 year period what it will cost to operate, repair, replace and renew building or landscape elements. These costs are then given a current value in order that an owner can make decisions about and plan investment in an asset.

It involves making judgements, with a client and other members of a professional team about when elements (windows doors etc) will need replacing or repairing and what kind of cyclical maintenance (like decoration) will be required. These are then costed and used for the purposes of financial planning for the revenue and capital costs of running the asset.