The world turned upside-down : architects as subcontractors in design-and-build contracts

David Greenwood, Peter Walker, Alan Walker

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The traditional role of the Architect on UK building projects is well-known and has been the subject of much study and comment. However, recent surveys indicate that design-and-build arrangements now exceed traditional procurement in terms of their share of total UK construction. On such projects, architects and other designers are engaged, not by the employer, but under sub-contract to the main contractor. The question arises as to the effect this has had. This has been approached by considering architects and other design consultants as professional contractors, as opposed to trade contractors - a term adopted to describe the more traditional type of subcontractor. Within these distinctions there are contractual, managerial and cultural implications for the relationships between the parties. To explore this further, representatives of five main contractors were questioned on their relationships with the two types. Clear differences emerged in matters such as contract formation, price-setting, payment and claims; the treatment of selection, work scheduling, and defects / omissions was more complicated. Within trade contractors there is a strong argument for recognising a further category of specialist contractors, who include a design service in their work package. Within the professional contractor category, architects were clearly differentiated from other design team members. The findings are analysed to suggest a theoretical framework with four dimensions that relate to process/product, attitude/motivation, working culture and relative power. The concern is not to be definitive at this stage, but to suggest an agenda for future research into the issues that have emerged.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2008
Event24th Annual ARCOM Conference - Cardiff
Duration: 1 Sept 2008 → …


Conference24th Annual ARCOM Conference
Period1/09/08 → …


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