Last edited 25 Oct 2016

Appointing consultants for building design and construction


[edit] Introduction

By appointments, we are referring primarily to the situation where the client contracts designers (such as architects, engineers, specialist designers, specialist contractors etc) or other consultants (such as cost consultants, independent client advisers, site inspectors, project managers, client representatives etc). Where the client contracts contractors this is described as the 'tender process' or 'contracting', rather than 'appointment'. On publicly-funded projects, the consultant team will often be contracted along with the main contractor as part of a complete 'integrated supply team', and so appointments may be restricted to independent client advisers and project managers.

[edit] Finding consultants

A range of search engines is available to find consultants:

NB See the article Consultant Team for a more detailed description of the range of consultants that might be appointed.

Appointments may be made by a process of:

  • Recommendation, for example, one consultant may recommend others, which can save time for the client and make it easier to establish collaborative working practices (it is important to set out requirements for collaborative practices during the appointment procedure to ensure that the consultant team works effectively together throughout the project).
  • Research and interview.
  • Open competition (with or without design).
  • Selective competition (with or without design).
  • An existing relationship or framework agreement.

A survey by the RIBA in 2014 (Ref RIBA Journal February 2014) revealed that the most common methods of appointing architects were:

Direct appointment 50%
Competitive fee bid or financial tender only 21%
Framework agreement with or without further competition for specific projects 10%
Invited competitive interview (no pre-qualification questionnaire PQQ) 4%
Expression of interest / PQQ only (no design work) 3%
Expression of interest / PQQ followed by competitive interview (no design work) 3%
Expression of interest / PQQ followed by design competition 2%
Invited design competition (no PQQ) 1%
Open design competition 1%
Other 4%

Smaller practices tended to be appointed mostly by direct appointment (61%), whereas this was less common for larger practices (25%).

Appointments on publicly-funded projects may fall under the requirements of OJEU procurement rules in which case strict procedures must be adhered to, including advanced advertising of appointments. This procedure can take some time and so should be initiated as soon as the client has identified a possible need for an appointment.

[edit] Request for proposals

Whatever the process of selecting potential consultants, agreeing the scope of services and fee for the appointment will generally require that the client prepares some form of 'request for proposals'. This may include:

  • A strategic brief, describing the client's assumptions, aspirations, budget and programme.
  • A management structure for the organisation of the project.
  • Assumptions about the procurement method that will be adopted.
  • The scope of services required.
  • Guidance on how fees should be quoted and broken down against stages of the project.
  • A description of the form of appointment and conditions of engagement (such as step-in rights and the level of professional indemnity insurance required).
  • Employer's information requirements (BIM).
  • Requirements for collateral warranties (for use where a warranty is to be given to a purchaser or tenant of premises in a commercial and/or industrial development, for example the British Property Federation (BPF) model forms CoWa/F CoWa/F and CoWa/P&T).
  • It should request details of resources and curriculum vitaes of staff along with a summary of their relevant experience on similar projects.
  • It should request references.
  • It should seek hourly rates to be applied to any work outside the proposed scope of services.
  • It should request identification of any sub-consultants the consultant intends to use.
  • For the appointment of design consultants, it may include a request for design proposals. If so, it is good practice for the client to offer payment for the work involved in preparing designs. This benefits the client as it will encourage the consultants to prepare their proposal more carefully, and will also demonstrate to them that the client is serious about the project and is likely to treat them fairly.

Some clients may feel they need for assistance from an independent client adviser to decide on the form of appointment, identify a short-list of potential consultants, prepare the request for proposals, assess submissions and negotiate fees.

See request for proposals for more information.

[edit] Standard forms

Standard forms of appointment for consultants are available, a range of which are listed below:

Other forms of appointment are also available, and in some circumstances appointment may be made by letter or by a bespoke agreement. The NBS National Construction Contracts and Law Survey 2012 indicates that approximately 40% of appointments are made using bespoke agreements. This may be inadvisable because of the risk that bespoke agreements might not adequately or fairly make provision for all circumstances, and that they are not supported by a history of case law. It is also a poor reflection of how inflexible and ineffective the industry perceives many of the standard forms of agreement to be.

NB Where appointments include the development of a building information model, (BIM) the CIC bim protocol (or equivalent) should be appended to the appointments of members of the design team and to the building contract. Project team members should arrange for it to be incorporated into subcontracts.

[edit] Scope of services

With all forms of appointment it is important that there is clarity about the scope of services being provided, particularly where a range of consultants is being appointed. There might otherwise be uncertainty about which consultant is responsible for which aspects of the project. Areas where clarity is particularly important include:

In addition, some standard forms of appointment may consider certain tasks to be 'additional services' not covered by the consultant's fee unless specifically requested by the client. These might include:

[edit] Building information modelling

The adoption of building information modelling (BIM) on a project requires the definition of specific obligations and liabilities, and limitations must be placed on the agreed use of the model. This is generally achieved by adopting a BIM protocol. BIM protocols can be incorporated into appointment documents by the addition of a model enabling amendment such as that proposed in the CIC BIM protocol.

[edit] Find out more

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki

[edit] External references