The eternal quest for the Holy Grail for all employers and employees is the work life balance everyone is striving to achieve

As a result the commercial property sector has seen a surge in employers seeking out that working environment for their employees which delivers the business operational needs in an engaging environment for employees. The need to provide engaging places of work leads to the question. How can this be achieved?

All Things Business spoke to Paul Smyth, Director of Building Consultancy at Lambert Smith Hampton’s Northampton office to discuss how businesses can deliver the work place of tomorrow and how this can be procured.

The workplace of tomorrow which supports and engages employees is a hot topic at present. How do companies achieve the results?

All businesses want the best for their staff and a workplace which provides the environment within which their staff and business can grow. The decision to make the change and invest is never easy or taken lightly. Our experience has shown that great businesses know what they need but the process of delivering or more importantly procuring the result may not be a clear and straight forward path. Our team of Chartered Building Surveyors, Project Managers and Quantity Surveyors have over 30 years of experience answering this very question.

Procuring a Fit Out or Refurbishment can be simply split between two options.

These are Design and Build and Traditional Procurement (Design, Tender and Construct). The solution however is very much dependent upon the situation and specific requirements of the business.

What are the main differences between Design and Build and Traditional Procurement?

The decision around which solution is best suited to a project is very much driven by the client and their specific needs and wants. A Design and Build approach allows for shorter timescales with increased cost certainty much earlier in the process, lower risk for the client and a single point of responsibility. A Traditional Procurement approach allows for a higher quality, design flexibility and control and opportunity for value engineering.

Ultimately the procurement model selected will dependent not only upon time, cost and quality but how much design control the client wishes to retain, the complexity of the project and apportioning of risk.

We have delivered countless successful projects for clients using either method but this has been through careful consideration and selection of the procurement method which best fits the client requirements and situation. Our team have also had experience of clients seeking our advice when things haven’t gone to plan either.

What things haven’t gone well and what are the pitfalls?

One of the principal benefits of Design and Build has been the ability to overlap design and construction therein reducing the delivery programme. This is very much dependent upon a detailed and considered brief (Employers Requirements) being drafted by the client or the client’s professional advisors. Our experience has shown that poorly drafted documents can result in misunderstanding, a lack of clarity and a short term life cycle view on product selection. This can lead to a change at the clients request.

Any change may lead to programme delay and an increase in costs or even delivery of a project which may not fulfil the intended objectives.

Under a Traditional Procurement route, the client retains risk and its implications. The client would traditionally work alongside their appointed design team throughout the concept and detailed design stages having considered, reviewed and signed off all elements. Should the design be incomplete or not fully specified before being issued to Contractors for pricing the implications of the resulting change will rest with the client.

So the difference between Design and Build and Traditional Procurement is all about risk?

The main difference between the two is control.

Under the Design and Build method the Contractor retains overall control. They are responsible for all aspects of the project through the design, workmanship and construction phases and will make decisions and judgements based upon their legal obligations under the contract which maybe to their financial benefit.

With Traditional Procurement overall control is retained by the client. They will be involved in the selection of products, equipment and fittings having received impartial advice from their appointed designers and advisors. The client will also retain control during the tendering stage and Contractor selection stages to allow decisions to be made prior to contractual commitments being placed. The Contractor is then required to build the design to an approved specification for an agreed price with set standards, workmanship and quality defined.

Ultimately Traditional Procurement deliveries the clients vision but may take longer to deliver.

Paul Smyth, Director of Building Consultancy at Lambert Smith Hampton
Paul Smyth, Director of Building Consultancy at Lambert Smith Hampton

Is it right to think that one is cheaper than the other?

A project has many different facets to consider. Some of these we have mentioned, but many others reside outside of the pure design and construction of a project. To fully understand, appreciate and apply the best solution for a business I would want to immerse myself in that business. To advise without having a true understanding may lead to decisions being made in isolation.

It is also not unusual to have other factors outside of a project which far exceed the financial decisions as to whether a Design and Build or Traditional Procurement model are selected.

I would confirm that where there is risk there is cost associated with that risk. With Design and Build and a detailed set of ‘Employers Requirements’ the amount of risk can be significantly reduced. The risk, under Design and Build would normally reside with the Contractor and still needs to be accounted for. A Design and Build Contractor will price the risk into their tender.

Under Traditional Procurement the Contractor is being asked to price a specific design and specification. With clarity and greater detail the Contractor can price accordingly with greater competitiveness. Having said that the risk of missed elements or changes remains with the client.

It is also worth stating that some businesses see the appointment of a design team as an additional cost to the project which they may not incur through Design and Build. Whilst it may not be expressed as a design fee, all elements still need to be designed and coordinated, it’s just that the cost may not be expressed and shown as a separate design fee.

The decision over which is best for each business and project is specific and should never be solely based upon cost. The vision of a project should never be lost in the process and the ultimate goal must be reinforced to all at key steps and stages.

The delivery of the perfect working environment which seamlessly aligns with the business and its employees today and into the future requires careful, considered and professional advice.

For more information or to discuss your requirements, contact Dudley Cross or Paul Smyth at Lambert Smith Hampton on 01908 604630,, or visit the Lambert Smith Hampton website