5C: Appointing and managing professionals

This section looks at how to get the best out of professional help to make sure your project develops to meet your needs – and progresses as smoothly as possible

Section 5 progress

To help with appointing professionals, always start with a ‘brief’ that explains what you are looking for, how much money you have to spend and how you want to work. This should be the case even if you are working with a pro-bono professional or someone you have worked with before.

Involving an architect

Using an architect is advisable in any project involving new building work. A good architect will see the constraints that a project can bring, and their subsequent resolution, not as problems but as an opportunity to create an inspiring and useful building.

Do not be afraid to ‘shop around’ until you find the right individual or company which has the specific experience of working on sports facilities and/or not-for-profit organisations. An appointed architect should be a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

While most architects will charge an hourly or daily rate, for budgeting purposes it can be better to get a fixed quote for the whole job. This will mean putting together a brief against which a selection of architects should be invited to respond to.

A competitive tender may be insisted upon by some external funders, but it is still good practice to invite 3-5 professional advisors to respond to a brief in any case.

A brief should cover:

  • The nature of the project
  • What the project aims to achieve
  • A detailed breakdown of all the schedule of accommodation needs in the building
  • Drawings of the site
  • The title deeds, where available.

A design brief should communicate strong design ideas, without actually designing buildings or layouts.

Some professional advisors offer pro bono (free), advice for the initial assessment stage of projects. Although it is tempting to accept pro bono support whenever it is offered, consider if it really does provide better value than a competitive tender process. It is also important that no formal commitment to work on future stages of a project is given to a pro bono supporter as this may not be acceptable to funding bodies.

Sources to access pro bono support include:





Involving a surveyor

If you are planning to purchase land or buildings, you need to get the site surveyed. The survey can highlight structural problems and issues such as dry rot, woodworm and other such nasties. Any problems might mean extra costs in the future. The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors provides a list of their members.

A building surveyor is an alternative to using an architect. This could be more appropriate for a refurbishment or scheme where the look of the building is not so important.

Other surveyors who might be required include:

  • Quantity surveyor – prepares budget costs estimates;
  • Land surveyor – prepares plans of site;
  • Valuation surveyor – provides independent advice on the value of properties.

Involving a Construction Design Management (CDM) Co-ordinator

There is a legal obligation to appoint a CDM for any building project, before any planning application is submitted.

The job of the CDM is to ensure that, during each stage of the planning process, Health and Safety implications are taken into account. Generally speaking, the architect or surveyor may take on this role. However, this may incur extra costs.

The role of the CDM ends at the point at which building work starts on the site. The Association for Project Safety produces a list of CDM Co-coordinators.

It is important to remember that the appointment of the CDM is a legal obligation. While your architect or surveyor may remind you of this obligation, it is your responsibility to ensure that someone has taken on this role.


Funders' requirements concerning the procurement and tender process and the demonstration of value for money will have to be addressed at this stage, particularly if the project is a large one.

Tenders ideally should contain a full package of drawings and a written specification plus a Quantity Surveyors’ Bill of Quantities and Health and Safety requirements.

It is usual for three or four contractors acceptable to the project client and funders/investors to be asked to bid. Ideally, contractors should be chosen who can do the work and have worked on similar projects and with similar organisations in the past.

Fees are due to the Quantity Surveyor (QS), Engineers and to the architect at this point. Some investors insist on having representatives at the official opening of tenders and most will want to receive the tender report, which is usually prepared by the QS to the client on all the returned tenders with a recommendation on whether to proceed with a contractor. This is usually followed by a negotiation on the contract sum with the selected contractor. This takes place between the QS and architect to look at any outstanding details or provisional sums in the tender.

Ideally, once planning permission and building control approval are in place the architect and QS can issue contract documentation, including drawings and specifications amended as a result of any last minute planning or building control requirements and following on from negotiation with the selected contractor.

It is often at this stage that the final agreements relating to acquisition of a stake in the asset are concluded.

The handover stage is perhaps the most important for the client since it covers the handover of the property as their responsibility and agreement about how defects that emerge will be dealt with.


Community: Have you developed a detailed brief to help you appoint your property professionals?