Now that you are seriously considering applying the spider silk rule in actualizing your next building project which requires you to at least be a ‘professional client’ i.e., a layman builder, one important course of study is to know the roles, functions, and responsibilities of the professionals that you may engage directly or at least encounter during delivery of your project.
In no particular order, we have,
- Town Planners (TPL)
Town/Urban or City Planners in conjunction with other construction professionals and government officials are largely responsible for the physical planning and regulation of a town, city, or area. They approve building designs, estate layouts and issue building, renovation, and demolition permits. You’ll have business with them pre-construction and construction stages. Usually, you require the advice of town planners to determine the type of building you can put up in a certain area as well as the maximum area and height for your land size. Approval is normally required before you can commence work on site.
- Land Surveyors (SURV)
They are primarily involved in carrying out land surveys and producing a Survey plan which shows the coordinates of your land, the area, the exact shape, lateral dimension as well as other vital geodata. The survey plan is normally expected to carry the name of the landowner as well as the stamp of the registered surveyor involved in the survey. Surveys are generally registered at the lands bureau for statutory documentation and regularization purposes. Land Surveyors also perform setting out operations on large sites and can be involved in taking levels.
- Geologists/Geotechnical Engineers
Because buildings are earth-laid, professional geologists come in handy to help determine the termination depth of your foundation as well as recommend the most suitable foundation types for your proposed structure based on the subsoil conditions of your site. They prepare a report known as a subsoil investigation (or soil test report). Structural Engineers use this report to design the foundation components of the building. Also, the project owner is often required to submit copies of this report (with a professional seal) along with your design for approval. Most geologists are not foundation experts because not all geologists are foundation/geotechnical engineers. However geotechnical engineers have good knowledge of geology and foundation engineering and can give informed advice on the most suitable foundation type for your building. Geologists/Geotechnical Engineers are also largely involved in dredging, geophysical survey for determining the depth of potable water, and other allied activities.
- Architect (ARC)
Architects help to bring imagination into virtually interpretable designs that can be worked with. They generally produce architectural designs/drawings from which almost all other drawings are derived. These designs usually have the location map/plan, site plan, well-detailed floor plans, elevations, sections, roof plan, schedules, and extensive, 3D and Virtual reality perspectives. They are very vast in the spatial arrangement of spaces to meet the basic functional requirements as required by existing codes and statutory regulations. Architects who engage in construction site activities are referred to as project architects while those who only consult for designs are simply, design architects. Depending on the nature of your project and the level of expertise, architects can play a well-defined role in the actualization of a building project from the design to completion stages, but they are mostly involved in the design stages.
- Quantity Surveyor (QS)
Quantity Surveyors are construction cost professionals. They are to construction what accountants are to business organizations. They are referred to as cost engineers in other climes. They help determine the project cost before design in terms of preliminary estimates, before construction in the form of a bill of quantities (BOQ), materials/labor cost schedules, and tender documents, during construction in terms of interim valuation and post-construction in terms of as spent or post-construction valuation. They can advise on various cost alternatives and the implication of each on your project fund. They also monitor and allocate project funds, and appropriate variations (where necessary) and are often involved in contract arbitration especially where money is the core aspect of the dispute.
- Builder/Building Engineer (BLDR)
Builders are to buildings what bankers are to banks -they are simply inseparable. A professional builder or building engineer is largely involved in organizing materials and workmen towards the delivery of a building project from the pre-design stage in terms of conceptualization to the design stage in terms of project documentation, planning, etc., to construction stage in terms of the building construction proper, construction management, project monitoring, and evaluation, and even post-construction in terms of as-built documentation, renovation, alteration, conversion, rehabilitation, retrofits, and improvement works. Some of the project documents prepared by builders include a construction method statement, buildability and maintainability analysis, project life cycle chart as well as work schedule/program of work.
- Structural/Civil Engineer (ENGR)
Structural Engineers are largely involved in determining and designing to fulfill the strength and stability potentials of a structure or infrastructure. The structural framework of a building, for instance, is often likened to the skeleton of a human body. The Structural Engineer’s work is at the core of the functionality of any building project because they are mostly believed to have failed in their responsibility in the event of a building collapse. After all, most collapses are a result of a structural failure. They prepare structural drawings which have detailed foundation design, designs of the floor slabs, columns, beams, staircases, roof, and other structural components of the building and must present them with a design calculation sheet for reference. They design according to an engineering code that normally involves rigorous calculations and theoretical assumptions of various case scenarios such as par load distribution, shear forces, and bending moments. They work closely with builders on-site to ensure that their designs are sufficiently actualized on the ground. They are always involved from design to completion of the project.
- M&E / MEP Engineers (ENGR)
For building projects, Mechanical and Electrical Engineers are involved in the electrical, lighting, plumbing, water, sewage, elevator, and escalator design of the project. These aspects are very critical to the overall functionality of the project. MEP Engineers are generally involved in organizing the active participants in this aspect of the work (i.e. the electricians, plumbers, elevator/escalator experts, solar technicians, AC technicians, borehole and sewage experts, etc.) to correctly and adequately relate their virtual designs to the actual positions on the building as well as to undertake the servicing and maintenance thereof. They determine the electrical load of a building and distribute them per existing design codes. They prepare a document popularly called the M & E.
- Safety Engineers (ENGR)
Safety Engineering has moved over the years from simply a role-based profession in the local building industry to becoming a fundamental occupation because of the increasing awareness of the huge effect of safety on the overall performance of a project. Safety Engineers are responsible for the health and safety of all workmen on a building project, including the tools and materials they work with. At the design stage, they are involved in the preparation of the project health and safety plan, environmental impact assessment, and other relevant documents and during construction, they are largely involved with control and enforcement in line with the safety documents they have prepared and statutory safety requirements. They are involved in training other professionals and site workers on best safety practices on site during and off work. They are extensively involved in planning health insurance for workers and providing first aid medical care in the event of a site accident.
- Interior Architects/Designers/Decorators
Interior architects/designers focus especially on the design of the interior spaces of a building to give comfort, functionality, personalization, and style to the occupier or user. Interior decorators work closely with interior designers to bring such designs to reality. Most professional interior architects/designers are rarely involved in the design phase of a project but are largely involved in the finishes sub-phase of the construction phase or post-construction phase. But on more sophisticated building projects, they must be part of the design phase so that their thoughts, expertise, and perspectives can be captured and incorporated from the start.
- Estate Surveyors & Valuers (ESV)
Estate Surveyors & Valuers are professionals largely involved in the post-construction stage providing a real-time valuation for sales, lease, rent, or other purposes. Sometimes they are involved in advisory capacities at the pre-design stages of a project because they give a bird eye view of the value proposition, projections, economic suitability, and benefit or otherwise of a project even before it is designed. They work closely with commercial real estate investors or developers to set up and develop their property portfolios. They are involved in land and landed property sales, acquisition, and management.
Project Managers (PM) are role-based professionals in fact, as any of the aforementioned professionals can specifically train to become or be assigned as a project manager on a construction project. Contract Managers are also largely role-based. In general, PMs involved in building projects play a similar role to builders/building Engineers except that they are not often directly involved in the construction process as active technical participants but as coordinating participants. In the same way, CMs play a similar role to QS except that they don’t directly involve themselves in determining construction costs but in brokering contract deals, assessing/approving bids, and building legal frameworks around these processes. Construction Managers (CM) are also role-based but a lot more involved in technical supervision than PMs. On some projects, the PM and CM roles are played interchangeably.