The importance of the Client's Representative role in the construction process

  • 11 July 2016
  • Declan O'Riordan
building clients representative v2

Modern construction is daunting place for the majority of clients. Complex terminology, red tape and needless expenses are endemic in the industry today. Even in the pre-construction phase there are many challenges facing the client. 

Recently a prospective client asked us: “Why do we need a client's rep, and what can you do for me that the team of project consultants I’ve already assembled cannot?. Surely the architect and contractor run the job?” The client in question had made a great start and appointed a strong project team, a high-profile architect, a structural engineer, a Mechanical and Electrical consultant, a landscape architect, and an interior designer. 

When asked the above question or similar, our answer is always the same: “although you have recruited an impressive group of soloists, you still need someone to conduct the orchestra”.

We are always amazed in this age of email, Skype and instant messaging, how challenging effective team communication can be. A Client's Representative acts as a 'conduit', easing the flow of information and ensuring the right people are have input where requirement preventing costly mistakes and delays.

What is an “Client’s Representative”?

The client mentioned above assumed that the combined input of his architect and other consultants would more than adequately address any issues that might arise during the design stage of the project. However, even the most commercially astute architect can often be blind to alternatives and more financially responsible solutions to design issues. Also, and with the best will in the world, project participants cannot objectively assess their own performance or independently manage the activities of other members of the same project team.

Meet the Client’s Representative; who, although sympathetic to the objectives of the various individual project stakeholders, will first and foremost protect the client’s interests – free from any potential conflicts – and perform an independent co-ordination role to ensure that all members of the project team are working towards a common goal.

Such an individual, or organisation, needs to be totally comfortable with the language and vocabulary of design, and be capable of leading the creative process, but also needs to be completely at home in a construction environment. In addition, the Client’s Representative should be able to ‘translate’ the objectives of the design team to the contractors, and vice versa, whilst mediating any conflicts that might occur between the two sides.

The Client’s Representative should maintain an independent overview of the detailed design development process and ensure that the project does not deviate from the client's vision. He (or she) should provide creative and strategic input throughout the project process – whilst maintaining an appropriate degree of detachment – and integrate the works of the various specialist consultants; which does not ordinarily happen, un-aided, by itself.

Some benefits of appointing an “Client’s Representative”

The early appointment of an Client’s Representative has a number of major benefits: -

  • Efficient management of pre-construction will save you time and money.
  • The value engineering process and the allocation of the project budget in the most effective way will be co-ordinated by an unbiased and experienced professional.
  • Any necessary additional specialist consultants that should be brought onto the project team will be identified and appointed in a timely manner, thereby minimising costly “afterthoughts”.
  • The burden of the project development and delivery process can be removed from the client’s shoulders – thereby enabling the client to pursue other opportunities.
  • And, most importantly, potentially expensive mistakes can be avoided.

The appointment of an Client’s Representative should not increase overall project costs. Instead, significant financial and time saving are possible through focused and efficient processes. Therefore an Client’s Representative can be somewhat self-financing.

Read more about our Clients Representative Services here or Contact us for free impartial advice.