14 February 2019
Read Time: 4 minutes

Preparing a Construction Project Brief

Woman engineer working on blueprint in office with colleagues on background

Where do you begin?

You are looking for a builder in London and you have a choice of building contractors.

But you don't just want the cheapest or the nearest, you want the best builder for the project.  So, start with preparing a Project Brief.

A Project Brief is part of the first phase of Selecting a Building Contractor.  It is all about planning your procurement process.  This first phase is make up of four stages:

Stage 1 - Looking at your procurement options   - How can I improve the tender process?

Stage 2 - Choosing your procurement route - Selecting the best procurement option for your project

Stage 3 - Prepare a project brief

Stage 4 - Prepare a contractor's brief

Let's look at Stage 3 in more detail.

There are a number of decisions that need to be made.  Or, if you are not yet in a position to make them, you will need to make some assumptions.

It is helpful to have a checklist and here are eight aspects you may wish to consider:

1 - Project Objectives

You will probably have a specification outline from the the client but also look at what YOU are aiming to achieve.  Here are some objectives but you can add anything that is relevant to you.  The list below is not in any particular order.

  • An award winning design
  • A 'happy' client who will recommend you
  • Keeping within tight budget parameters
  • A 'high end' quality finish
  • Keeping the neighbours on board
  • The opportunity to work with a new building contractor (perhaps recommended by the client)
  • Building a larger portfolio of design
  • Working with a new type of client for your practice e.g. a charity, a developer etc.

It is good to be clear on the order of priority, which will be different for each person reading this blog.

2 - Responsibilities

Determine who is going to be responsible for different aspects of the work and create a list of responsibilities.  Here are some questions to consider

  • Do you already have in-house competencies?
  • Does the client have an expertise that is available to you?
  • What are you prepared to contract out to a third party?
  • As Principal Designer are you taking responsibility for CDM regulations?
  • Are you passing the responsibility for CDM regulations to the the Principal Contractor?
  • Are you the Contract Administrator on the project?

3 - Client Requirements

Review with your client what they have in terms of specific requirements and see how flexible they are to deviate from them.

Mature couple meeting architect for construction project

4 - Design Management

Consider the balance between COST / QUALITY / TIME.

If one of these elements takes a significantly higher priority than the others this will have an impact on the content of your project brief and hence your ultimate choice of building contractor.

5 - Quality Policy

A Quality Policy needs to be defined at this stage so that a framework can be established and responsibility handed to the Contractor. 

6 - Procurement Options

Here is an opportunity to review stages 1 and 2 of this process to ensure that you have selected the best procurement option for choosing a builder in London and that it is agreed with your client.

Stage 1 - How can I improve the tender process?

Stage 2 - Selecting the best procurement option for your project

7 - Pricing Document

A Bill of Quantities will take time to create but will save time later when you are in a position of compare prices from different contractors who have tendered for the project.  

8 - Evaluation Method

Whatever method you chose you will need to be able to identify the 'best value' bid which is not only based on cost.  Decide how you are going to evaluate the different criteria.

If you would like more information on any of the four phases to selecting a building contractor, please download our guide Best Practice for Selecting a Building Contractor.

Annie Summun

Written by Annie Summun

Annie Summun is a Director at Kisiel Group and, following over 35 year's management experience in different sectors, she is now promoting excellence and best practice in the construction industry. As a National Board Member of the Federation of Master Builders and Vice Chair of the Training Group, she has a particular interest in the training and development of individuals and looks to encourage more talent into the construction industry.

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