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Last edited 30 Dec 2020
Early appointment / involvement
Early appointment typically refers to the involvement at the earliest possible stage in the design process of certain stakeholders to a construction project, with the aim of fostering partnering and improved team working. This will help ensure a project environment that manages risk, encourages innovation, improves collaboration, is less adversarial, and minimises unforeseen costs and delays – all of which can help deliver value for money.
Early contractor involvement (ECI) allows contractors to participate in both the design development and construction planning stages. This can be essential for some projects, especially very large or complex projects and particularly those that rely on building information modelling (BIM), or where speed it important.
ECI clauses are now part of NEC contracts which are published by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE). A single NEC3 Engineering and Construction Contract (ECC) can be used for both stages where contractors are participating. ICE has suggested that early contractor involvement “...supports improved team working, innovation and planning to deliver value for money”.
ECI allows the contractor to input contractual, construction and design experience and ideas at an early stage in consultation with the client, architect, engineer and other consultants. In so doing, the contractor can influence the design in a beneficial way, advise on constructability, cost estimating, in-use performance, construction sequencing, materials and lead times, site considerations and a host of other matters that the client and other consultants may not have as much experience of. This means the contractor becomes familiar with the project over a longer period of time and can help avoid costly mistakes and delays.
The client (or employer) can appoint the contractor to help its consultants with the project design or to design specific elements. This is normally followed by the contractor being asked to deliver the works. Alternatively, the client can appoint the contractor to deliver the design helped by the client’s consultants.
 Key sub-contractors and suppliers
Early involvement of key sub-contractors and suppliers in the design process can also have benefits for a project such as establishing market pricing for the work involved, contributing to the design process, developing long lead time items and so on. This can also help the client, sub-contractors, suppliers and main contractor mitigate risk.
 Other stakeholders
Community ‘buy-in’ (local residents, businesses, politicians and community groups and so on) at an early stage in a construction project can result in benefits for a project. Informed stakeholders that are part of the dialogue can enhance a project, avoiding potentially disruptive community relations and bad publicity. An involved community will more likely lend its support to a project.
- Allow the community to generate ideas for project planning and implementation;
- Helps establish project sustainability and discovers what the community thinks and needs;
- Improves community relations and
- Gives the community a sense of empowerment that fosters acceptance.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Collaborative practices.
- Construction contract.
- Contract conditions.
- Contractor's design portion.
- Defined cost.
- Delay damages.
- Early contractor involvement.
- Institution of Civil Engineers.
- Latham Report
- Management contract.
- NEC contract change management systems.
- Optimised contractor involvement.
- Procurement route.
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