A Beginner’s Guide to How the Construction Industry Operates


In recent years, we’ve heard a lot about the construction sector aiming for higher automation and improving energy efficiency in new builds, but we rarely see an explanation of what the construction industry actually is and how exactly it operates. The field of construction is among the largest industries in the world that consist of various different types of building and civil engineering roles, all working together towards many types of goals, from public infrastructure to private property development. But if you’ve ever wondered how the construction industry works in more practical terms, here is a simple beginner’s guide that might help to explain the main processes:

Building projects begin with clients

Each construction project will begin with a specific client who comes to the conclusion that something needs to be built. The client in question can be a central government department, a local authority, a property development firm, a private company, or even an individual.

The particular types of building projects will vary depending on the client as well, and can include private projects, commercial projects, industrial projects, residential buildings, infrastructure, and heavy construction, among others. In most cases, the client will decide which type of project they would like to be built, along with a loose timeframe and an overall budget necessary for its completion.

Clients then hire expert consultants

The next step would be for the client to hire an expert consultant who will be able to give them advice regarding the regulations, costs, designs, and other aspects of construction. Clients could either engage several consultants for different areas or a single service to advise on the entire project. In either case, consultants will generally oversee building projects on behalf of their clients, due to the specialized knowledge and experience they possess.

Consultants will take care of the designing phase of the project, ensuring the client’s design demands are met and estimating the approximate cost of specific builds. After this is established, consultants will decide which contractors are best suited to do the necessary construction work. This is often done by asking contractors to ‘bid’ for projects, describing why they are the best option for completing the job.

Consultants contact the contractors

Contractors are often chosen based on their experience and special abilities. For instance, if a client wants to build on their own private property, reliable custom home builders will be the best option. Such experts will be able to design suitable homes for their clients that fit their specific needs and budgets, from the designing to the construction processes.

Once a suitable contractor has been selected, they will begin the on-site work, ensuring the agreed timeframe, budget, and quality standards are adhered to. They might also take advice from hired consultants during this process, and run potential issues and setbacks past them as well, to keep the client fully informed.

Contractors might get extra help

In case construction projects require specialist knowledge and skills that the contractors don’t possess, they might also offer the work to other specialized organizations. Typical tasks that could be outsourced include work on foundations, structural steelwork, reinforced concrete work, electrical and plumbing work, etc.

These specialists are called subcontractors, who are generally smaller employers. They work on the same building site and tend to have similar working conditions and working hours to traditional contractors.

The experience of working in construction

When working with contractors on building projects, it might be helpful to know how the work is typically performed on construction sites. This allows clients to be more familiar with the entire construction process, oversee different phases, and intervene in case there’s an issue a consultant or other professional hasn’t already pointed out.

The work on the building site is performed in all weathers, and temporary on-site offices might be installed as well. Depending on the specific project, the work can be divided into shifts, overnight work could be needed, and long hours might be required, especially if the project gets behind schedule. The building process can be experienced first-hand, but no changes can be made to the original design once the work is underway.

The process mentioned above represents the most typical way in which construction projects are built, and explains more about the common procedures within the construction industry itself. If you are thinking of starting a new building project, the information in this guide could be crucial for ensuring streamlined operations, but making sure each individual involved in the project is properly licensed and certified is even more important.

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