A growing number of other professions are involved in the design and specification process. ‘Engineer’can be a confusing title because some are actually contractors and others consultants. The consultants also operate in different areas such as civils (designing bridges and tunnels), structural (dealing with building structures) or M&E (looking after building services). Some specialise further within these areas, such as highways or drainage. Engineers are interested in technical solutions which can be shown to work by calculation and in performance, but often less in the visual side of design, in contrast with architects.
‘Surveyor’ is another wide-ranging title, ranging from property and livestock valuersto building and quantity surveyors. Many – but not all - will be chartered, as members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Quantity surveyors or cost consultants cost out projects at various stages for comparison with budgets and deal with valuations during building work. In an increasingly cost conscious world, they have substantial influence and can act as overall project managers, although architects have regained ground here. Naturally, they are primarily interested in the price of products and materials, including whole of life. In contrast, building surveyors carry out some of the architect’s specification role, notably on work to existing buildings.The list of consultants continues to grow with established professions such as landscape architects and more recent titles including urban designers, cladding specialists and facilities managers.
The lead consultant or project manager is effectively in charge of all consultants on a project and, traditionally, would be the architect. However, as buildings become more complex, other professions including surveyors and even accountancy firms have taken over this role. Multi-disciplinary practices offer clients a ‘one stop shop’ while large professional clients can have substantial in-house consultancy departments. Some of the largest employers of architects are not architectural practices. Clearly, for each specific product or material it is essential to identify and understand the influential consultants and give them the right information.