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Traditional procurement

The traditional procurement route is the most common procurement approach used in the construction industry. It’s sometimes referred to as Design Bid Build.

In the traditional procurement approach, the design work is separate from the construction work. The developer or client appoints an architect to complete the design and produce the building specifications. A consultant team is appointed to take control of design and cost. Upon completion of the design, the client will tender to appoint a contractor to carry out the works. The contractor prepares their tender based on the specifications and drawings in the tender documents, or the Bill Of Materials (BOM). In this form of procurement, the contract is usually awarded to the lowest priced tender. The contractor needs to take responsibility for all the work and materials, which include all works by the sub-contractors.

The traditional procurement route can be quite complex. This diagram shows the contractual relationships.

This diagram shows the contractual relationships in the traditional procurement route as described in the text of this step: The top of the figure shows the Client (or Employer). a line goes from the Client down to the 'Consultant Team' and the 'Contractor Team'; A line goes down from the 'Contractor Team' to the 'Consultant Architects', 'Consultant QS' and 'Consultant Engineers'; A line goes down from the 'Contractor Team' to the 'Domestic Subcontractor' and the 'Nominated Subcontractor' © Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0

The client has a contractual relationship with all parties. In this way, the client has closer control over the project. However, this may introduce another risk, since the client needs to deal with multiple points of responsibility.

The advantages of the traditional procurement approach include:

  • It usually results in high-quality work since the client has closer control over the project
  • All tenderers produce a tender based on the same information
  • When compared to other procurement methods, the traditional method will be easier to adopt

The disadvantages of a traditional procurement approach are:

  • The client may find it hard to manage the project since they need to communicate with a number of parties at the same time
  • It requires a longer period to complete the project. This is because with the traditional procurement method, the tender for the design is issued separately and the tender for construction follows design completion; in other words, you can put out a construction tender when the design of the project has not yet been completed

Your task

Imagine you’re working on a construction project to build a multi-storey apartment block. There’s a problem with the drawing of the design and the contractor wants to get more information from the consultant team.

Based on experience in your practice area, consider how you’d deal with the above problem, using a traditional approach.

Share your analysis with other students in the comments area.

Further reading

If you’d like to know more about the different forms of construction procurement methods, you might want to read this report by Peter Davis:

Icon.NET Pty Ltd (2008) ‘Building Procurement Methods’, Cooperative Research Centre for Construction Innovation.

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This article is from the free online course:

Contract Management and Procurement: An Introduction

Coventry University