Debate about the draft CIC Consultants’ Contract has focused on the conditions section, but the real innovation is in the integrated services

The increasing complexity of building projects in terms of technical content, integration of architecture and engineering, delivery mechanisms and external influences demands greater precision in roles, duties and scope than ever before. There exist some excellent guides to the services to be performed within disciplines, but no standard form that brings together the necessary level of clarity and integration.

The CIC Services, part of the CIC Consultants’ Contract, aims to fill this gap by offering a detailed schedule of integrated activities, taking the project from conception to completion and suitable for all commonly used procurement routes.

Why is a fresh approach to the integration of design-related activities so important? The difficulties encountered by clients and their project teams gives the clue. Consultants’ services are often poorly defined, giving no level of detail at work stages – how many debates have there been about what scheme design comprises? Often there is a mismatch in the services, being defined differently for each discipline; there is a lack of clarity of roles; the services assume a procurement route (and therefore a boundary between contractor and designer) that may not be adopted; there is not an open book approach to scope, so gaps or overlaps exist. How many times do misunderstandings arise over the design split between consultants and contractors? I could go on.

The CIC Services take a different approach, setting down by role (not discipline) the activities required to define the construction of the project, ranging from the development of the initial brief/feasibility, through the production of manufacturing and installation information, to final completion. These activities are then allocated, to consultants, contractors or specialists as appropriate. The CIC Services also include review activities to cover the situation where consultants review the work of say contractor’s designers after handover to a design-and-build contractor.

The CIC Services are divided into six stages, with clear starting and end points, a defined level of detail for each stage and each stage ending with an overall deliverable that is approved by the client. The stages match well with international systems, those adopted by many leading developers, the BPF and the proposed revision to the RIBA Plan of Work. Another difference in approach is to separate out specific activities, such as planning and procurement, which do not rigidly fit into design stages.

The potential for confusion over responsibility for underground drainage or sprinkler systems should be a thing of the past

Tables provide clients with a menu of services that will be required for their project, whether they are services that consultants are appointed to carry out, or services that will be procured through the construction contract. For consultants it provides a framework for agreeing with clients and other consultants the level of service required, and the responsibilities of each party. It also provides a clear demonstration of the inter-reliance of the disciplines and hence the risks of allowing a discipline to lag behind, for example the inherent risk to an architectural concept if concept engineering has not informed it.

The CIC Services also enable a comparison of how activities might be split between consultant and contractor for a traditional procurement route and a develop-and-construct style of design and build where employers’ requirements are based on full design development information.

A further level of detail is available which allows responsibility for the definition of components to be allocated between parties. The potential for confusion over responsibility for underground drainage or sprinkler systems should be a thing of the past. And this level of detail allows the Contractors Design Portion Supplement to be covered simply – the elements and stages for which design services are required from the contractor are defined. A further benefit of detail is the clear framework it provides for managing changes in the scope of services.

The CIC Services make clear the activities to be performed by each party, for all elements of a project, at any stage. By providing this framework the CIC Services allow broad assumptions about roles and responsibilities to be made at the outset of a project, to be refined as the detail of the project and procurement route becomes clear. Although more time will be needed at the outset in allocating activities, the return should be ample reward in terms of clarity and transparency. The devil is of course in the detail – and comments on the working drafts that have been published are very welcome.