To influence the specification of your construction product, it is necessary to understand the dynamics of the construction decision making unit (DMU).

Today, it is very rare that a single person will have full control of the decision to purchase, and many have the influence to prevent the selection of a product. It is thus important to fully understand the decision making chain, where the influence is and to ensure that at every stage, of what could be a 2 year process, specifiers and influencers are happy with the decision to use your construction products.

The construction decision making chain for a Traditional contract has five key stages:

1. Client defines the building brief:

This will be based on functional needs and will probably include some aesthetic and performance requirements. Although not directly selecting products this stage can have a significant influence on the products used. Those clients with a large portfolio of buildings may also define specific product brands.

2. Specialist consultants provide guidance:

The second stage will involve specialist consultants responsible for areas such as fire, acoustics, security and sustainability. They will define the performance requirements for their area of interest, but at this stage will not nominate products.

3. Architect defines the design:

The architect is responsible for taking the client’s brief and combining it with the advice of the specialist consultants to develop the building’s design. The architect may take advice from consultants and contractors on detailed aspects of design and possibly product selection. Working with the architect will be engineers responsible for structural, mechanical and electrical design. All have an influence on specifications and hence selection of building products.

4. Main contractor is appointed:

The main contractor is responsible for some product selection. He will also indirectly influence the product selection process by appointing the specialist sub-contractors.

5. Sub-contractors are appointed:

Depending on the nature of the architect’s specification the sub-contractor may be responsible for making the final product selection. He will be influenced by technical support, familiarity, speed of installation, availability and price, trying to achieve cost savings within the scope of the specification.

Additionally it is important to note the nature of the relationship between the members of the project team will depend on the type of contract used. I have described Traditional, relationships will be different for Design & Build, Management or PFI. The type of specification, whether descriptive/performance or equal/approved will influence at what stage of the construction process the product is specified. This, together with external influences, such as government regulations, drive for sustainability or BIM all play a part.

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