Participants in the Design and Construction Process

AuthorRoss J. Altman
A building or other structure is not an object simply purchased by a consumer
or produced by a single person or entity. The design and construction of a
project is a collaborative process requiring the talent, execution, and coordina-
tion of many different people and organizations. As the size, cost, complexity,
or unusual features of a project increase, the number of participants needed
to design and construct that project likely will increase as well. The  nan-
cial, technical, business, and regulatory challenges involved in even a small
commercial project demand the participation of many diverse participants.
Although each participant makes a separate contribution to the project, the
activities of one inextricably bear upon the performance of the others.
It should come as no surprise that assembling a construction transaction is
a complicated task. The interdependence of each member of the design and
construction process on the performance of the other members may cause dif-
culties. Like any complex process, there is ample opportunity for failure,
breakdown, and dif culty along the way. Many project participants will not
have worked together previously and may not have worked on a project simi-
lar to the one for which they are retained. The participants may have different
Participants in the Design
and Construction Process
policies and manners in which they conduct their business, and the policies
and manners of one may conict with those of the other participants. On inter-
national projects, there will be language barriers, multiple cultures, and the
practical difculties created by long distances and different time zones. Despite
such obstacles, those involved in the production of a project must be well orga-
nized and coordinated to deliver a project successfully. This book explores the
multitude of legal issues that arise out of a process that has collaboration as
its goal but that in practice often fosters disputes and controversy. To consider
such legal issues, however, it is rst necessary to understand the roles and
objectives of each of the typical participants in the design and construction
The owner initiates the project. The owner furnishes the project site, is respon-
sible for satisfaction of certain regulatory requirements necessary to develop
and use the project site, and must pay for the development of the project. As
the person or entity producing the project, the owner is responsible for ensur-
ing that all activities involved in the delivery of the project are performed.
Many of those activities are well beyond the capability of the typical owner,
however, and are delegated to third parties who have the skill, experience, and
manpower that the owner may not possess.
There are many different types of owners. Some owners are skilled and
possess prior experience with the design and construction process. Other own-
ers may undertake a project only once. Issues that are of particular importance
to one owner may not be particularly meaningful to another; cost concerns are
paramount to many owners, while other owners are more exible with respect
to cost when certain time requirements are satised. The manner in which a
project is delivered and the allocation of responsibilities among the participants
to the project can be inuenced signicantly by the various characteristics of
the owner.
Whether the owner is a public or private entity will affect greatly many
fundamental decisions about the delivery of the project. Public owners, such
as federal, state, and local governments, are obligated to procure and manage
construction projects pursuant to a statutory and regulatory framework.1 Pub-
lic entities are not free to engage in innovative project delivery methodologies,
1. Public entities must comply with a complex set of procurement statutes when awarding a
contract, and then only enter into contracts that conform to applicable regulations.

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