This blog provides a brief introduction to some of the key decision makers and influencers in the construction team. Looking at what challenges are of importance to them. Providing guidance on what drives product specification, by looking at how each individual specifier is influenced by key factors such as value, design quality, sustainability.
Further information on each of the construction decision makers can be found in our Construction Persona series.
The Construction Client
In construction the end customer, or Client, will have varying levels of influence on product selection. Clients with large property portfolios will often indicate preferred products. Large property portfolio Client’s wish to ensure that the products selected will project the right image for their company and meet their safety and performance standards, which may be higher than National Standards. They may insist on Prescriptive Specifications for products which might impact upon the operating costs of their buildings.
- Health and safety
- Build quality
- Operational efficiencies
- Health and Wellbeing
The Architect develops the buildings’ design, taking the Client’s brief and combining it with the advice of the Specialist Consultants. This is then developed to meet the requirements of the Building Regulations and increasingly sustainability.
Architects have significant involvement in product selection. Provide tools, such as pre-written specification documents, to make it easy for the Architect to specify your product.
The Architect has the potential to act as the node between the Client, Main Contractor, Specialist Contractor and many others to ensure the right products are selected and installed correctly. The introduction of BIM is further encouraging this culture.
- Safeguarding design
- Building regulations and legislation
- Client management
The Interior Designer
The interior designer will provide advice and create designs for the layout and configuration of the internal space of a building or structure. They will often take responsibility for first fix installation such as kitchens, bathrooms and surfaces. Interior designers make interior spaces functional, safe, and beautiful by determining space requirements and selecting decorative items, such as colours, lighting, and materials.
They work closely with architects, structural engineers, mechanical engineers, and builders to determine how interior spaces will function, look, and be furnished.
- Building productivity
- Spatial design
- Interior performance and occupier experience
- WELL Building Standard or BREEAM
The Quantity Surveyor
The QS could work for either the client or the contractor, in an office or on site. They are involved in a project from the start, preparing estimates and costs of the work. The Quantity Surveyor can be found in many different roles on the construction project: representing the Client, acting as Project Manager, writing specifications, giving advice on sustainability. Occasionally the QS makes product recommendations but more often he/she is overseeing choices to ensure the Client gets value.
- Quantity / stock monitoring
- On site efficiencies
- Product availability
- Client management
The Mechanical & Electrical Engineer
M&E Engineers are problem solvers. The role of the M&E Engineer is to design, install and maintain the services in new or existing buildings. There is a growing emphasis on sustainability and M&E or Building Services Engineers are at the cutting-edge of designing, developing and managing new technologies that help to reduce the carbon emissions of a building.
Engineers often prefer to work with performance specifications, generally feeling that they can specify the key criteria they require while giving the sub-contractor the flexibility. But they will use a brand or nominated specification if they consider it justified. Very often they have to sign-off the sub-contractor’s installation, carrying the responsibility for any failure, so they are vigilant about product selections.
- Verification of product performance
- Correct installation and use
- Futureproof designs
- Health & Wellbeing
The Main Contractor
The Contractor oversees and manages the construction of the building for the Client, following the Architect and Engineers’ designs. The work is delivered under a contractual agreement. The Main Contractor will select Sub-contractors based on their capability, availability and price.
If a project is Design & Build or PF2, the Contractor will be directing the Engineer and Architect’s product selection. They will have in-house decision makers interpreting the Client’s needs and briefing the specifiers.
They need to know that building work will not be delayed by lack of product availability and that product cost remains within the estimate, so they can remain profitable.
- Achieving project schedules
- Meeting client needs
- Remaining profitable
The Specialist Sub-Contractor
Sub-Contractors can be anything from an individual self-employed person e.g. a plumber carrying out work for a building Contractor – to a large national organisation. There are three main types of Sub-Contractor:
- Domestic Sub-Contractor: A Sub-Contractor selected and appointed by the Main Contractor.
- Nominated Sub-Contractor: A Sub-Contractor selected by the Client to carry out an element of the works.
- Named Sub-Contractor: A Sub-Contractor for a particular package selected from a list of acceptable Sub-Contractors provided by the Client.
The majority of specialist firms now post better margins than Main Contractors, underlining how much strength specialist businesses have today. One potential game-changer is the fact that Clients are increasingly engaging directly with tier two suppliers, bypassing tier one Contractors altogether.
- Contract terms / penalties
- Procurement / Supply chain
- Main Contractor relationship / Client relationship
The Public Sector Construction Client
Within the public sectors there are many different types of project: Health, Accommodation, Education, Leisure, Infrastructure, Offices, Military. Sectors will represent varying opportunities for your organisation based on benefits your products offer and the growth opportunities in the sector. Aim to understand the issues affecting each sector.
- The public sector is broadly split between central government departments (e.g. MOD, MoJ, NHS, DfE) and local government.
- Public sector procurement is subject to a legal framework which encourages free and open competition and value for money. “The best mix of quality and effectiveness for the least outlay over the period of use of the goods or services bought”.
- Projects may also be procured via PPP or PFI, although use of this option has been limited in recent years.
- Achieving cost efficiencies in the supply chain
- Procurement / legal frameworks
- Meeting public needs
The Facilities Manager
A facilities manager is the ultimate organiser, making sure that a workplace meets the needs of employees by managing all of the required services. Facilities managers may work in-house – that is directly for the organisation for which they are managing services – or for a company that provides those services to individual businesses. Typical employers include:
- specialist facilities management companies
- property firms and property management companies
- construction companies
- large public and private sector organisations, including schools, colleges, universities and the NHS
- Managing relationships with suppliers and clients
- Optimising in-use performance to budget
- Time management
The Civil Engineer
Civil engineers are creative people who solve problems. Civil engineering is traditionally broken down into many sub-disciplines, the civil engineer is involved in energy supply, water management as well as the more obvious roles such as design of bridges, roads, railways and airports.
The two crucial aspects within this field are consulting engineering and contracting engineering. Consulting engineers design a specific project whereas contracting engineers manage the physical construction and play a significant role in transforming the proposed development into architecture.
Engineers want to ensure their designs satisfy given criteria; that they are safe, serviceable and perform well. Engineers will monitor the progress of a project and when work has begun, they inspect the work and advise contractors. They are also accountable should the design not work.
Between 1950 and the early 1980s, the percentage of homes which were bought, steadily increased, and the renting sector fell. However, the trend in home ownership has been reversed in the last decade, due to problems of home ownership affordability. The housing market is influenced by the state of the economy, interest rates, real income and changes in the size of the population. The Government are supporting the residential construction sector with the ambition of 1 million net additions by 2020 and half a million more by the end of 2022.
The Residential sector can be divided into large national housebuilders (Barratt, Persimmon, etc), the Medium/Small builders, Housing Associations, Build to Rent and Self-Builders. The large housebuilders are very focused on construction cost. They operate national or regional deals with many manufacturers and are interested in what will sell a property, not lifetime running costs.
It is important for the Specification Salesperson to build relationships with as many key players in the Decision Making Unit, getting to know the inter-relations on each project. The Architect and Engineer are no longer the primary influencers. The Main Contractor, Specialist Contractor, Interior Designer, M&E Engineer and Quantity Surveyor can all influence product selection. And then of course there is the Client, for whom the building is being constructed. For marketing creating construction personas helps understand the motivation behind buyer decisions, giving an understanding of the challenges and goals faced by the decision maker. Providing valuable insight into why construction professionals are specifying your product, or why they are choosing your competitor. Taking time to understand each customer type is also a great way to inform your communications strategy.