How the construction industry works: a beginner’s guide


To build a construction project, several different organizations collaborate. Recruiters want aspiring apprentices, trainees, and graduates to have a basic understanding of how a project is put together.

This article describes the conventional construction process, but some larger firms provide a design-and-build service, in which they perform the duties of both a consultant and a contractor. Keep in mind that huge projects might take years to complete from conception to completion.

The goal of Sami Construction is to help you succeed.

Design, project management, property maintenance, construction, and property development are some of our areas of expertise in the built environment. Residential housing, offices, hospitals, student housing, civil buildings, public domain, schools, colleges, and universities are all areas where we work.

The client is the first step in any construction project

… Who decides whether or not something should be built? A property development corporation, a local government, a central government department, a private enterprise, or an individual could be the client.

The client chooses what they want to build, when they want it done, and how much it should cost.

After that, the client hires consultants

… They will provide guidance on design, pricing, and any applicable restrictions. The client could hire multiple consultancies or only one to provide all of the necessary consultancy. In any case, the project is usually overseen by a single consultant firm on behalf of the customer.

  • Architecture firms are a common type of consultant firm
  • Employers in the field of cost consultancy (quantity surveying)
  • Employers in civil, structural, mechanical, and electrical engineering

The design part of the project is then handled by consultants, who design the structure and calculate how much it will cost to build it. They decide which construction contractor should undertake the work when this has been verified. Contractors must ‘bid’ for the job, demonstrating why they are the best.

How does it feel to work as a consultant?

If you work for a consulting consultancy, you will be involved in the design phase. The project is designed by architects. Quantity surveyors estimate how much the design will cost, while civil engineers ensure that the technical features on plans will work.

  • You’re employed in an office… You may visit sites on occasion, and you may be ‘seconded’ (sent) to work on a site, but this is primarily an office job.
  • You work regular office hours (usually 8.30 a.m. to 6 p.m.), however you may be required to work longer hours near a deadline.
  • Normally, you work on several tasks at the same time
  • When you’re working on a project in its early phases, you may not see the end product for years

Contractors are hired by the consultant to complete the construction job

Construction on the job site begins once the contractor has secured the work from the consultants. Contractors ensure that the project is completed according to the agreed-upon quality, budget, and schedule. They receive design instructions from the design consultancy and run any design-related issues by them.

How does it feel to work as a contractor?

Site managers, civil engineers, quantity surveyors, and trades or craft employees all work for contactors.

  • In all weathers, you work on sites (or from a temporary office on site)
  • You may be required to work shifts or overnight depending on the project
  • Working hours on site are typically longer (from 7.30 a.m. to 6 p.m.), and you may be required to work longer hours if things fall behind schedule.
  • In most cases, you only work on one project at a time
  • You get to watch things being made right in front of your eyes, but you don’t get to make any changes to the original design.

Subcontractors may be able to assist contractors

If any project activity necessitates the use of specialized skills or knowledge, the contractor may offer the task to specialized organizations. The reinforced concrete works are an example of a task that could be assigned to a subcontractor.

  • steelwork for structural purposes
  • Working on the foundations is a must
  • Work on the plumbing and electrical systems

Subcontractors are typically smaller businesses. You’ll work on site for a subcontractor and have similar working hours to contractors.