Last edited 16 May 2022

Appointing consultants for building design and construction

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[edit] Introduction

The term 'appointment' typically refers to a situation in which the client contracts designers (such as architects, landscape architects, engineers, specialist designers, specialist contractors, etc.), and/or other consultants (such as cost consultants, independent client advisers, site inspectors, project managers, client representatives, etc.).

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

When the client contracts building contractors (rather than consultants) this is generally described as 'contracting', not '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:

Appointments may be made by a process of:

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 public 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:

Some clients may feel they need 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. However, 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.

[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] Related articles on Designing Buildings

[edit] External references

Designing Buildings Anywhere

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