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Traditional procurement

Traditional procurement has been identified as the most used procurement route.

There are a couple of headline research findings to introduce at this point regarding procurement, namely:

77% of respondents have indicated that clients do not have a sufficient understanding of construction procurement.
(CIOB 2010)

Traditional procurement methods are still the most popular followed by design and build. The gap between these is narrowing though.
(RIBA Enterprises 2018)

Let’s start with traditional (ie design-bid-build) procurement, and address the following questions:

How does traditional procurement work?

diagram showing that in traditional procurement there is direct contact between the client and their consultants, between the client and the contractor, and between the contractor and the sub contractors and suppliers but that there is only indirect contact between the contractor and the consultants

The diagram showing traditional procurement is expandable

The client engages separate organisations for the three key project activities of:

  • Design – from the architect
  • Cost advice – from the quantity surveyor
  • Construction

Design services are provided by an architect who produces a design to meet the client’s brief. The architect then becomes the design team leader, and the overall project leader.

Cost advice is given by cost consultants (typically quantity surveyors) who prepare costings at various stages of the design process and, when detailed drawings are ready, a bill of quantities (BoQ) is prepared for the tender documents; cost advice continues through awarding of the tender.

Construction starts once the tenders have been priced, returned and one contractor selected. The contract is awarded and signed.

Advantages of traditional procurement Disadvantages
Client control over design process. Time taken to produce the full design.
Direct reporting of design team to client ensures quality control
ie client knows what they will get.
No one person is responsible for both the design and construction.
Costs known before the contract is signed. Time/cost can escalate as little contractor input into design.

Traditional procurement prioritises cost and quality benefits at the expense of time.

Your task

Make your own notes from watching the following video on procurement choices:

0:00–2:03 minutes covers traditional procurement.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

There is obviously more information in this video and we will be coming back to it later.

If you are unable to watch the video for any reason, a text alternative is available from Designing Buildings Wiki.

After watching the video and making your own study notes, is there anything you wish to share with your fellow learners?


CIOB (2010) A Report Exploring Procurement in the Construction Industry [online] Englemere: Chartered Institute of Building. available from https://www.ciob.org/sites/default/files/CIOB%20research%20-%20Procurement%20in%20the%20Construction%20Industry%202010_1.pdf [5 July 2019]

RIBA Enterprises (2018) National Construction Contracts and Law Report 2018 [online] Newcastle: NBS. available from https://www.thenbs.com/knowledge/national-construction-contracts-and-law-report-2018 [5 July 2019]

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This article is from the free online course:

Procurement Strategies and Tendering

Coventry University