Groups Involved With A Construction Project
When I built my first house, more than 35 years ago, I had no clue how the process worked, who was involved and/or what I was supposed to do next. I did not know who the cast of characters were in a construction project. I was somewhat lucky in that I paid a local builder a consultation fee to aid me in the project and he gave me a heads up as to who I could contact for a variety of items and what order I should do things. That being said, the information I received was sketchy and not very detailed. However, it was better than nothing.
With this post, I wish to give you a list of who the cast of characters is that you get to deal with, either directly or indirectly, during the course of your project. When you make the leap to move forward, it is going to help you very much to understand how the process works, who is involved and what you can do to plan ahead. Being forewarned is being forearmed and so the more you know the better off you will be.
There are a number of different groups of people that will have an influence on your project. They will become involved at various times during the job and they all have an impact on timing, quality and cost. Knowing who they are and what they do will allow you to make sure whatever task or service they are providing to be done on time. So the following is the “Cast of Characters” or the team.
The first, and most important member of the team, is you – the Owner. You are responsible for everything that goes on in the job and no matter what happens, or does not happen, you are the one that has the final say on everything. This is your project, your idea, your dream, your decision on any and all things and, most important, your money. When you come to realize that, and that you are in charge, you can make the decisions you need to make. This is not an easy headspace to get into, especially if you have never done it before, but the better you are at adopting this role, the better your job will run.
Local Authorities Having Jurisdiction:
This is a fancy label for the city, town, municipality or district where your property is located. If you are planning on obtaining a building permit, and it is in your best interest to do so, this is where you make that application. These are the people, through their planning and building departments, that make and administer the various bylaws and building restrictions that govern the design and construction of all types of buildings. To make a building permit application, one needs to provide a drawing, or set of drawings, that outline the work to be performed and the specifications for the construction details. All municipalities provide information on their requirements for the building permit application. It is in your best interest to visit the building department, speak with someone at the counter about your project and then pick up the information you need. If you are not inclined to handle all this on your own, you can then enlist the services of a professional designer or architect to prepare the drawings for you.
Given what I do for a living, it is understandable for me to say the most important person or group involved in a project, other than the owner, is the designer or design team. It is our job to take the wishes of the owner and turn them into reality, or at least provide the “blueprint” for that reality. Depending on the size or scale of the proposed project, this process can be handled by the designer alone. Other larger or more complicated jobs may require any or all consulting engineers, such as structural and /or geotechnical. If the property has a slope or hilly contour, or is restricted in size, then a surveyor may need to hired. If you are living on a rural property and on a septic system, you may be required to have the drawings reviewed by a septic engineer.
The above relates only to some of the requirements that are encountered with a building permit application. To properly provide information that will describe other areas of construction, owners should consider hiring an interior designer, who can work with the owner to help with the finish material choices such as cabinets, flooring, doors etc.
General contractors oversee and coordinate the complete project. A general contractor is responsible for providing all of the material, labor, equipment tools and services necessary for the construction of the project. The general contractor hires specialized subcontractors to perform all or portions of the construction work. Responsibilities may include applying for building permits, securing the property, providing temporary utilities on site, managing personnel on site, providing site surveying and engineering, disposing or recycling of construction waste, monitoring schedules and cash flows, and maintaining accurate records.
A subcontractor is a person who is hired by a general contractor to perform a specific task as part of the overall project and is normally paid for services provided to the project by the originating general contractor. The most common concept of a subcontractor is a person or company that is hired to perform specific work on the project. ie plumber electrician or roofer. My definition of a subcontractor is someone who knows how to do one thing well!
These are companies that perform no work on the construction site but supply materials to be used on the project. Typical examples are lumber suppliers, window and door manufacturers and concrete suppliers.