Scottish Government
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Construction Phase Handbook

Guidance for contracting authorities on the Construction Phase of a built asset project.


This Handbook focuses on the construction of the built asset as distinct from the preparation for its construction. It aims to help prepare clients for their role in managing the progress of their projects during the construction. It is not intended as a technical manual; it is expected that clients will either have their own in-house technical resource or hire it in. The Scottish Government Construction Capability Assessment will help to identify any skills and experience gaps and assist in developing the team. This chapter provides an overview by way of an introduction to the client's role during construction.


Clients own their project and it is they who stand to gain or lose the most and, therefore, must be at the heart of driving it towards its outcomes and success. The client should take every step to facilitate their understanding of the nature of construction and construction project management. That understanding and expertise may not be available in the client organisation and therefore it may be necessary for the client to hire in a 'client advisor' to ensure that the client can act effectively as an 'intelligent client' and oversee the delivery of the project.

The intensity of the project will ebb and flow throughout the lifecycle and some stages will need more input from the client than others. This is not to say that it can be put aside or ignored at any time; rather the client must recognise the requirements at each stage and ensure that they are always in a position to make the appropriate decisions, provide direction or support when it is required and that the associated procedures are in place and accessible.

There will be significant demands on the client during the construction stage and a disengaged client can easily be blindsided by an event with the potential for serious damage to the prospects for project success. Therefore, they must be proactive in leading the project and ensuring that it achieves its outputs and outcomes.

From time to time, throughout the construction phase, there will be occasions when the way is lost or strayed from. This could be as a consequence of, for example, external changes or unforeseen conditions. Whatever the cause, a client who is fully engaged with the project will be better prepared and equipped to work with the project delivery team to bring the project back onto track; or, better still, prevent it from going off course in the first place.

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