The Process of Building

All the information below is of a general non-specific nature and is for informational purposes only and must not be relied on in contractual situations. 

The following is a working approximation of how the process of bringing an architecturally designed building into being can be carried through.  It is not the only way but it is a good guide to the range of necessary steps that need to be undertaken to achieve the desired goal. 

Once the Design is Finalised and all the necessary approvals are gained and the appropriate fees, charges, taxes, levies, summarial extortions and outright thieveries are paid, the actual process of building the building can commence forthwith, note that it is not allowed to before all these things are in place 

 Various Strategies are available for procuring the building; in increasing order of cost for a given building:   

1.    Owner Builder  (on your own) 

2.    Owner Builder employing a Construction Manager 

3.    Owner Builder Sub-Contracting all works 

4.    Contracting a Builder on a Cost Plus basis
(sometimes this may be a more expensive option than any other as it is open ended, usually used for difficult, unique works) 

 5.    Fixed Priced Contracting a Builder 

NOTE Explaining Contracts….  Where a construction project is to exceed a few thousand dollars in value (varying according to locality and job type) a contract must be signed by both the client and the builder.  The builder becomes the contractor, the client becomes the principal.  A builder may employ other tradespeople and other companies to carry out elements of the works as sub-contractors.  Most Contracts refer to a Certifier, an independent third party licensed to assess and inspect the works to ensure they are carried out according to the approved plans and relevant codes and ordinances.  

1.               Owner Builder.  The tradition of owner builder inAustralia has produced a situation where a reasonable percentage of people feel confident enough that they can run a building project.  Building is a complex process dealing with large costs, technical issues and difficult timing and programming issues, it is though responsive to good management techniques. 

                  This option allows a confident, competent person to actually be involved in the day to day construction of the building in whatever role they chose, saving money by labouring or using any particular skills they may have to save on subcontractors rates. 

                  The downsides are that all responsibility for the works falls on the owner, including insurance issues, safety issues, supervision of the works to ensure proper quality and completion of subcontracts and the emerging legislated Home Owners Warranty Insurance requirements.  These can make it very difficult to sell a property within six years of construction unless the works have been inspected and certified during construction. 

                  The upside is that the process gives excellent control of costs and quality of the end product to the owner and usually results in substantial savings, over 30% in many cases, through not having to pay a builder’s rates and margins, though it is often difficult to achieve the same deals as a larger builder as far as materials are concerned. 


2.                Owner Builder employing a Construction Manager.  In this instance the Owner still takes on the role of builder but as principal only, employing a construction professional as their agent to actually run the project on a day to day basis, appoint subcontractors and supervise the works to ensure all is done properly. 

                  The upsides and downsides are the same though extra costs are encountered paying the managers fees.  Against this though, the manager is responsible for areas such as site safety and works supervision and a good manager can usually save a bit of costs by ensuring the project runs smoothly and subcontracts are managed well and good deals on materials are achieved.

3.                An Owner builder can also subcontract out all the various trades involved in a construction project and simply act in a project manager role themselves, saving a manager’s fees but still not being involved in actual work or day to day on-site activity.  This option requires some skills in construction supervision as it is possible to miss problems in construction when not on site continually. 

                  The upside with this option is full control over the costs of the building project, the downsides are the responsibility issues, timing the works to run efficiently and supervision requirements.

4.                Employing a Builder on a Cost Plus basis.  This is the option usually taken for complex building works where it is unreasonable for a builder to give a fixed price due to an unusual design, site or program requirements.  It means the client obtains the building for its cost, plus the builder’s usual margin.  The works are the responsibility of the builder and must achieve the standards set out in the drawings, specifications and contracts. 

                  This can be an open ended situation where costs can spiral without control.  Often an architect or supervisor is employed to ensure the builder is reasonable with claims and meets program requirements.

5 .              By contract to a builder for a fixed quoted price with a fixed completion date.  This method is the most “hands off” approach available and the client is simply required to pay the costs and move in.  It is usually the most expensive option as the builder is tightly constrained by the contract to deliver on time and on budget and hence has to “cover their ass” so to speak, to ensure they will not lose out in the deal.   

                  The builder is fully responsible for the works, the site and for achieving finishing dates and budgets.  The builder must carry all insurances and must warranty the building on completion for a minimum of six years (residential only). 

                  This process involves the selection of a builder usually by either calling for tenders or by direct appointment of a builder by the client. 

                  In this Scenario the architect usually acts in a contract (rather than construction) management role, ensuring that the builder and client both meet their contractual obligations to each other.  ie that the building is constructed in the specified manner to the tendered costs by the appointed date.  This usually entails a series of site visits and consultations with the builder, client and various subcontractors to optimise the building program and resolve conflicts and issue instructions.

Processes involved in The Building Program


In this process a special package of drawings, specifications and contract documentation is put together and mailed out to a range of building contractors who are asked to submit a tender for the works.  That is, they are required to put forward a fixed cost for the works, a timetable for the construction process to commence and be completed by and show they have the required licences insurances and expertise to complete the works according to the contract. 

 This process has a number of steps as follows: 

                              Collation of Documentation
                              Tender Estimations
                              Selection of Tenderers
                              Calling for Tenders
                              Recommendation for Selection of Tender
                              Acceptance of Tender 

Construction Contract 

                              Selection of Contract
                              Assessment and checking of      Insurances
                                                                               Financial Capacity
                              Completion of Contract Documentation
                              Signing of Contracts 


                              Progress Certification
                              Practical Completion 

Notes on Construction Management 

Where the client often acts as an owner builder and appoints an expert to manage the day to day running of the works and supervision of the subcontractors.  

                              Programming of Works
                 Selection of Subcontractors
                Appointment of Subcontracts
                      Supervision of Works
                              Certification of Progress Submissions
                              Finalisation of Works                           

In this case there is no on-site role for the architect as the Construction Managers take on the much more detailed role of direct day to day supervision of the construction works.  The architect is consulted only where changes to the design are requested or design discrepancies or unclear documentation are encountered.

All Building Procurement Processes result in …. 


                              Defects Liability Period   

A three month period after the practical completion of the works (after the principal moves in)  where any detected defects may be notified by the principal and must be remedied by the builder. 

                              Final Completion  

All outstanding accounts are finalised with the builder, and the contract finalised. 

 The Home Owners Warranty Scheme legally requires that the Builder Guarantees their work for a period of six years from the date of Final Completion.  An insurance Policy is issued guaranteeing this. 


Post Occupancy 

                              Building Manual 

                              As Constructed Drawings 

                              Operation interviews assessment and evaluations