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Appointing construction professionals

A construction law expert is warning of the importance of properly appointing a professional team to oversee a commercial development, particularly where a developer is hoping to obtain funding for the build.

The team will usually include an architect, quantity surveyor (QS) and more than one engineer.

Commonly, the QS or architect may carry out a project management role or contract administration, which can include pre-construction activities such as advising on the procurement of the contractor, cost planning and general activities including coordination of the professional team. Contract administration work can include issuing contract notices during the construction period.

Leigh Child, specialist construction solicitor at Napthens, said the services provided by each professional should be formally agreed up-front, and the appointment document should be in a clear and accurate format.

She warned: “When forward planning, the issue of the form of consultant appointment can be addressed at the outset by the developer. This can be done at a later stage, but leave it too long and there can be lengthy and expensive negotiations with consultants to agree documents that are acceptable to a funder. These negotiations could delay or even prevent a successful funding application.

“The key point to remember when appointing a professional is that although their services may be completed early on in the project, they remain liable for the adequacy of those services in terms of design or professional advice for a number of years.

“Other issues to remember are to ensure any required insurances, in particular, professional indemnity insurance are in place at the required level and that health and safety obligations regarding the various roles have been properly identified and dealt with under the appointments.

“Professional appointments are a key part of any development and it’s important to make the right choices at the right time.”

For further information on this, please do not hesitate to contact Leigh.