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Guidance for
New Clients


understanding what you need

It is imperative you carefully consider exactly what you need - leaping to a construction solution is not always the answer.  

If, for example you are a business owner that is running out of space or capacity for your growing business, you could review the process side to get more out of what you have, or even consider moving premises - you may need to employ some professional help to evaluate your options, for example from:

 - Royal Institution of British Architects - Architects & Client Advisers  

 - Institute of Civil Engineers

 - CIAT – Architectural Technologists



setting out your requirements

If carrying out some form of construction work is deemed the best solution, then the next step is to produce a brief which sets out exactly what you need.

This can be developed further with your chosen professional, depending on the nature and complexity of your proposed construction project.


This CITB guidance was written by clients, for clients and includes details about how to produce a brief and what should be included. 


plANNING PERMISSION/Building Regs Approvals

Your chosen design professional will be able to guide you regarding the need for a planning application and seeking building regulation approval where appropriate, as your brief takes shape and drawings evolve.


Any approvals should ideally be settled prior to committing to your selected contractor.



It is important you select experienced and competent designers/suppliers/contractors for the design, build and handover/commissioning phases of the work.  

Please refer to the list of professional bodies whose members offer a greater degree of assurance than those trading without any means of demonstrating their professional ability.


Follow this link to TrustMark if you looking to employ tradesmen to work in your home or business premises.

It is advised wherever possible to have a written agreement or contract in place, even when appointing tradesmen on minor works. This should include a clear specification of your requirements, costs and agreed timescales for your project.


identifying and managing risk

You should be clear that your chosen professionals are managing the common risk areas to construction workers, your employees and the general public at large.

The means of working at height safely, elimination or control of dust, the presence and means of managing asbestos in older buildings, segregation of people from vehicles and site equipment are all good examples.  

As a commercial client, you are accountable for the impact your decisions and approach have on health, safety and welfare of your project. See this guidance from the Health and Safety Executive. 


Refer to the HSE’s construction - frequently asked questions for more information on the identification and management of common risk areas.


agreeing costs

Unless you have a good grasp of what construction should cost, and you have a trusted contractor relationship where you can negotiate your contractual approach, it is the norm to request bids from contractors with the skills and proven ability to carry out your proposed work.

You may also need the assistance of a surveyor from a relevant professional body to help with the contract preparation, depending on the size and complexity of your proposed project, to ensure that when evaluating bids you are comparing like with like, ensuring they have priced what you have specified, to the standards required.

Common Pitfalls

As the client, there are some common issues which, with the right approach, you can watch out for and hopefully avoid.


  • Ensure you are bringing in the relevant, competent help at the right time.

  • Be very clear and specific about your requirements

  • Be realistic about costs

  • Ensure you allow sufficient time for your works to be carried out safely

  • Ensure you are clear on any potential risks and hazards which your construction work may cause, and how these are going to be managed

  • Allow for contingencies in both time and cost

  • Keep employees and the general public segregated from any hazardous construction activities

  • Ask for, and take up references from previous clients, remembering that you will get a franker response if you meet with or call them


  • Be driven by cost alone – ensure you have a full understanding of what each bidder is proposing – look into lower bids to check what they may be failing to include

  • Commit to engaging contractors before you have all your permissions and building regulations approvals in hand

  • Engage anyone without being assured they can carry out the work in a safe, timely and quality assured manner

Your duties and responsibilities as a ‘client’

'Clients' have defined duties and responsibilities under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015.  The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have provided very clear guidance, giving clarity whether you are a domestic or commercial client and a short guide in the form of a leaflet 'Need building work done'.

The information provided via these three links, should help you to understand your role and responsibilities as a client, and help you to set off in the right direction.  

Below is a step-by-step guide to how to approach your commercial building project. To illustrate this further, see the following case studies:


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