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.
The duties and responsibilities of a construction buyer might include:
- Pre-construction involvement in design meetings regarding product selection.
- Obtaining prices for all supplies required to complete the works.
- Identifying and assessing potential suppliers and products.
- Maintaining detailed records such as tracking documents and purchasing databases.
- Analysing tender returns and making recommendations.
- Ensuring supplies and suppliers comply with safety, health and environmental and other requirements.
- Preparing and issuing contracts.
- Raising orders for supplies.
- Preparing and maintaining cost reports.
- Ensuring the flow of materials to maximise efficiency.
- Negotiating favourable terms and delivery times with suppliers.
- Taking part in value engineering and cost-saving initiatives.
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.
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).
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Diversity, social value and skills
 Join in
Building People is bringing together the huge amount of resource that exists across the Built Environment industry, with a focus on diversity and inclusion, skills and careers, and social value.
We need your help to do this.
Have you got useful material to share? Do you know of information that would be helpful to others? If it is relevant to the Built Environment and to diversity, skills and social value, then it's relevant to others. Help them find it by using the guidelines below.
 Add your own content
- For guidance about writing and adding your own content see Get started - top tips and help.
- Some articles are more popular and useful than others. This article explains more.
- Make sure you use the right title as this helps search engines find it. See here for guidance.
- Add your signature to link readers to your profile.
- Tick the 'People' box when you submit the article - that way your content will appear in this Building People microsite.