Consultants and advisors

The degree to which you will require specialist advisors will depend on the type of project you have, and its complexity.

Advisors should have experience of similar projects and will often be construction professionals such as architects, surveyors, project managers or engineers. Some independent advisors specialise in particular building or procurement processes. Professional institutes such as the RIBA can help suggest people to consider and give guidance as to what qualifications to expect from the different professionals.

On large projects, technical advice is needed from early in the process. In some situations when the client advisor effectively takes on the role of project manager for the first stage of the project, especially if they are appointed at an early stage.  

There are many aspects of your project on which you may need expert independent advice,  most commonly one or a combination of the following: 

  • site selection and assessment
  • building selection and assessment
  • finance and costs
  • market assessment
  • urban design and planning
  • specialist surveyors – for example acoustic, geotechnical, agricultural, highways, traffic, rights of light
  • accessibility
  • archaeologists
  • specialist subcontractors – for example soil and ground issues, mechanical systems, communications
  • environmental impact
  • environmental management - water, waste, energy
  • archaeology
  • consultation
  • stakeholder management
  • aspects relating to the historic environment
  • procurement route and contract choice
  • brief writing
  • facilities management.

Some of these skills may already be in your design team – but you may need advice before you have appointed a design team.
Some specialists are obligatory, for example if local authority permission requires expert surveys.

You may use many different advisors throughout the life of a project. The project delivery team can grow – a large building project can have a very large cast of players – and shrink again, so make sure your project costings take this into account.

Client design advisor

In the early stages of the project you may need additional design input from an architect for key reviews of preliminary ideas and during competitive selection of the design teams. If you have several advisors, at least one should have design skills.

An independent client design advisor can be an architect you employ for this purpose. Their role is to:

  • help you make decisions in the early stages of the project
  • contribute design understanding and knowledge
  • review user needs seriously and help prepare the outline brief
  • judge the quality of ideas and suggestions
  • suggest and evaluate possible project delivery team members, such as the architect.

Construction design and management co-ordinator

This role was introduced under the Construction Design and Management Regulations 2007, and was previously called a planning supervisor. You have a legal responsibility to appoint a CDM co-ordinator at the very beginning of your project.

The CDM regulations ensure that health and safety for the construction and use of the building are considered throughout design and construction.

Your CDM co-ordinator may be an architect, engineer, a project manager or a building surveyor. Their job is to:

  • check that the design does not involve hazards in construction or use
  • compile a health and safety file that is handed over to the contractor once construction starts
  • hand over a working logbook for the building to the client once the project has finished.

Your client advisor or lead contractor should inform you of your obligation to appoint a CDM co-ordinator and help to see that the appointment is made.

However, until you have appointed a CDM co-ordinator in writing, you as the client will be deemed to be carrying out the role. Appointing an agent to assume your legal responsibilities under the regulations is no longer an option, but you can still get assistance from your professional consultants.

Advisors are helpful, often invaluable, but don’t over-rely on them - use your own judgement when necessary.
Head of estates