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Who are the key players in a construction project?

There are many stakeholder organisations in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry. Here, we have listed the construction organisations that play an important part in the realisation of construction projects.

The client

The first type of construction organisation is the client-based organisation. The CIOB Code of Practice for Programme Management in the Built Environment defines a client as:

… the entity, individual or organisation commissioning and funding the project, directly or indirectly.

(CIOB 2016: xvii)

The Health and Safety Authority further defines a client as:

… the person or company, with the controlling interest in the project. Generally the Client will retain a significant level of control over the assessment and appointment of Designers and Contractors for a project.

(The Health and Safety Authority 2009: 3)

You will explore client organisations in more detail in the task at the end of this step.

The contractors (main contractor and subcontractor)

Traditionally, clients have been engaging contractors to carry out building project construction works. These are the people with the technical know-how to get the structures off the ground.

Considering the scale of the work being carried out, the contractors could be in several other categories such as main contractor and subcontractor. While the main contractor is concerned about all the works involved within a project and is accountable to the client, the subcontractor is often only responsible for a certain part of the works (for example, electrical engineering, plumbing or landscape).

However, the contractors and subcontractors could bear other titles which include: principal contractor (as it is in the UK health and safety regulations), prime contractor (referred to by large government clients in the UK). The subcontractors could also be described based on what they do, for example, if they are specialists in trades work, general works, domestic work and many others.


The Business Dictionary (n.d.) defines a supplier as ‘a party that supplies goods or services’. In construction, the goods include any materials that go into a built structure, while services refer to all different work packages agreed upon by different parties pertaining to the development of the built structure.

Recently, the industry has realised the importance of the supply chain and how these can be managed when carrying out project activities. With the growth in off-site construction expected to continue (Farmer 2016), supply chain management is becoming more complex, time-consuming and important to the successful delivery of a project.


A consultant is defined as ‘person who provides professional or expert advice in a particular field of science or business to either an organisation or individual’ (Consultancy.uk 2018).

In construction, the advice varies from time to time depending on the stage of the project. For instance, at the very beginning of the project, the advice would be sought for design work by the architects or engineers. Advice would also be needed to define and set up the project. The client may also seek advice to prepare and produce tender documents as well as the administration of the contract and for the inspection of the works (Designing Buildings 2018).

Despite the high consultancy fees, consultants have expertise in their areas of professional jurisdiction. For instance, the client would seek advice for a specific project from a wide range of professionals such as architects, quantity surveyors, and structural services engineers. Considering these people work independently, somehow it helps to minimise the bureaucracy and speed up the process of work while guaranteeing quality.

These organisations could be owned by a sole trader (proprietor or practitioner), partnership companies (limited, private or public), or unlimited holding companies and conglomerates.

Your task

In this article, we have listed and explained the main types of construction organisations. We would like you to complete this step by doing a little more research on the client-based organisation.

Spend around 30 minutes on an online search to locate definitions and examples of client or customer-based construction organisations. Make note of the different sources.

In your studies, you should base your research on reputable industry sources. You can find an extensive list of key resources for construction knowledge in the UK on the Designing Buildings Wiki. Other reputable sources of information that are free of charge are Open Access Repositories. A worldwide directory of Open Access Repositories, OpenDOAR, is provided by Jisc.

  • How would you define a client-based organisation?
  • How many types of client-based organisations were you able to identify?

Share a summary of your research with other learners.


CIOB (2016) Code of Practice for Programme Management in the Built Environment. Chichester: Wiley Blackwell

Consultancy.uk (2018) Career: What is a consultant? [online]. available from https://www.consultancy.uk/career/what-is-a-consultant [11 September 2018]

Designing Buildings (2018) Consultant team for design and construction [online]. available from https://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/Consultant_team_for_design_and_construction [11 September 2018]

BusinessDictionary.com (n.d.) [online]. available from http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/supplier.html [11 September 2018]

Farmer, M. (2016) The Farmer Review of the UK Construction Labour Model. London: Construction Leadership Council (CLC)

The Health and Safety Authority (2009) Clients in Construction: Best Practice Guidance [online] Dublin: Health and Safety Authority. available from https://www.hsa.ie/eng/publications_and_forms/publications/construction/clients_in_construction_best_practice_guidance.pdf [19 July 2019]

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This article is from the free online course:

Organisational Behaviour in Construction: An Introduction

Coventry University