Last edited 27 Oct 2020

Construction buyer

Construction buyers are responsible for procurement activities for products, materials, plant and subcontractors for construction projects. They typically work for the main contractor (although sub-contractors may also have buyers on large projects) to ensure that supplies are provided in accordance with both the project programme and budget.

Buyers make an important contribution to ensuring the project is profitable for the contractor, as they are responsible for purchasing the most cost-effective and appropriate materials, and this can change throughout the course of a project, which may last for several years.

The construction buyer must approach a variety of suppliers, to obtain quotes and to determine availability and terms. They will generally liaise with the cost planner and commercial team to ensure they are fully briefed on the cost, timing and risks associated with all purchases.

Buyers will often be required to lead the tendering, negotiation and placement of orders, and chair regular procurement reviews with the project team.

The duties and responsibilities of a construction buyer might include:

Necessary skills for construction buyers include a good knowledge and understanding of all construction materials and plant and their relevant market. Often employers will require a buyer to have established relationships with builders’ merchants and other suppliers. Negotiation skills are necessary for agreeing prices and terms with suppliers.

While there are no formal entry routes to becoming a construction buyer, it is helpful to have a construction background. Apprenticeships can sometimes be a useful starting point.

In terms of training it is very often on-the-job, although NVQ’s are available in Supply Chain Management (at levels 2-5), and examinations through the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS).

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