Welcome back to our insightful series on Employer’s Agent responsibilities in design and build projects. In our previous two articles, we have explored the basics of the EA’s role and their involvement during the pre-construction phases of a design and build (D&B) project. If you need a refresher on these fundamentals, feel free to revisit those articles here. [Employer’s Agent 101: Design Phase] [Employer’s Agent 101: The Basics]. In this instalment, we delve deeper into the EA’s duties and responsibilities as we approach and cross the threshold of the construction phase. This discussion will be particularly enlightening for those engaged with design and build contracts, where the seamless integration of design and construction stages is paramount. Join us as we explore the pivotal role of an EA during these critical stages of a D&B project.

Employer’s Agent’s role before construction starts

The Employer’s Agent (EA) plays an integral role at the commencement of a design and build project. The EA must comprehend the project’s specific parameters and establish clear objectives to ensure smooth progression. Their responsibility also ensures that the design meets the client’s requirements and adheres to the contractual obligations. This is crucial for the successful delivery of the project, especially under design and build contracts.

During the pre-construction phase, the EA’s primary focus is on coordinating the design and build aspects, making certain that all preparations are in line with the client’s vision and the contractual terms. This stage demands the EA to undertake several vital steps, from overseeing the finalisation of the design to preparing for the shift to construction, assuring that all elements are cohesively aligned for the project’s successful commencement.


Reviewing Contract Documents

At the commencement of a design and build project, the Employer’s Agent (EA) is tasked with thoroughly reviewing the contract documents. This includes a detailed examination of the contract conditions, a critical appraisal of the specifications, and a comprehensive understanding of the project drawings. Such a foundational review enables the EA to become acquainted with all facets of the project, noting crucial dates and time limits to prevent oversights.

Additionally, the EA is responsible for rigorously evaluating the project’s risk strategy and scrutinising the risk clauses within the contract to identify and manage inherent risks. Establishing a robust and suitable risk strategy is imperative, as the initial review of these documents lays the groundwork for all subsequent project management tasks.


Management and Oversight of Contractor’s Proposals

After the contract documents have been reviewed, the Employer’s Agent (EA) oversees the process of reviewing and assessing the contractor’s proposals. The EA’s role involves ensuring that the Employer’s design team comprehensively evaluates these proposals, primarily from the perspective of their alignment with the contract requirements. While the EA does not directly approve the contractor’s proposals, they play a crucial role in coordinating the review process. Additionally, the EA may engage a cost consultant if re-negotiation of the project’s cost is necessary due to changes in the contractor’s proposals. This approach ensures that the project remains in line with both the design intent and contractual obligations.


Liaison with the Professional Team

The Employer’s Agent (EA) is crucial in facilitating effective communication across the client’s professional team in a design and build project. This includes ensuring that the roles and responsibilities of the design team are clearly defined and align with the project’s objectives. The EA plays a key role in ensuring adherence to the Construction Design and Management Regulations, safeguarding compliance with all regulatory standards.

Establishing clear communication protocols is also a fundamental responsibility of the EA. These protocols determine the frequency of meetings with the design and project teams, fostering a shared understanding of the project’s goals and expectations. Through promoting open and efficient communication, the EA helps to forge a cohesive team dedicated to the successful delivery of the project.


Advising the Employer

The Employer’s Agent (EA) holds the responsibility of ensuring that the employer is thoroughly informed about their contractual obligations in a design and build project. It is imperative for the EA to confirm that the employer comprehends their specific goals and objectives, which is essential for maintaining the project’s trajectory.

Furthermore, the EA advises the employer on securing appropriate insurance and consulting experts to address potential risks. Establishing a clear and agreed-upon format and frequency for reporting is crucial, allowing for consistent updates on project progress and any emerging issues. This cooperative approach is fundamental to the efficient and well-organised execution of the project.


Risk Assessment and Mitigation Strategy

Before the commencement of construction, the Employer’s Agent (EA) undertakes a critical task of setting out a comprehensive risk assessment, strategy, and mitigation measures. This process involves identifying potential risks that could impact the project, ranging from construction delays and cost overruns to safety hazards and regulatory non-compliance. The EA then develops a strategic plan to address these risks, incorporating risk avoidance, reduction, and transfer strategies. Mitigation measures might include contingency planning, regular safety audits, contractual safeguards, and close coordination with the design and construction teams. This proactive approach ensures that risks are managed effectively, setting a foundation for a successful and smooth project execution.


Liaison with the Contractor

The Employer’s Agent (EA) is responsible for establishing clear lines of communication with the contractor and identifying primary contacts to ensure efficient information flow in a design and build project. At this early stage, the EA is critical in reviewing the construction timetable, ensuring its realism and achievability.

Moreover, the EA is crucial in setting efficient protocols for submitting, revising, and approving the contractor’s proposals throughout the project. This includes agreeing on a schedule for releasing key project information and setting clear procedures for instructions and variations. Such measures not only make the process transparent but also help in preventing potential conflicts. Effective communication with the contractor is vital for a successful working relationship and the smooth progression of the project.


Insurance, Bonds and Legal Requirements

At the initiation of a design and build project, the Employer’s Agent (EA) plays a critical role in overseeing insurance, bonds, and legal requirements to safeguard all parties involved. These aspects are crucial for financial security, regulatory compliance, and risk mitigation.

The EA must verify that all necessary insurance policies are properly in place. This includes reviewing policy details such as named parties, coverage amounts, and exclusions, ensuring alignment with contract terms, and monitoring renewal dates to prevent lapses in coverage.

Furthermore, the EA oversees the provision of performance bonds and guarantees, ensuring the contractor’s compliance and the legitimacy of these instruments in accordance with contract stipulations.

Legal compliance is also a key area of focus for the EA. This encompasses confirming contractor notifications under relevant regulations such as the New Roads and Street Works Act, checking planning conditions and building regulation approvals, party wall agreements, rights of access/licenses for the site, and any operational restrictions. Environmental, ecological, and archaeological compliance are also under the purview of the EA.

By meticulously managing these elements, the EA ensures legal compliance and lays a robust foundation for mitigating risks or challenges that may arise during the construction phase.


Establishing Internal Procedures

At the outset of a design and build project, the Employer’s Agent (EA) must establish internal procedures to ensure smooth operations. This involves setting up a robust document management and filing system to keep all contractual paperwork, such as notices and instructions, well-organised and readily accessible. The effectiveness of this system hinges on the team’s adherence to the established process.

The EA also needs to clearly communicate the procedures for issuing notices and instructions to all stakeholders, including action timelines as per the contract. Preparing forms, templates, and logs in advance is key to streamlining communication. These practices lead to an organised environment, promoting efficient management of the project and reducing the likelihood of misunderstandings and disputes.


Employer’s Agent’s role as construction starts

As construction commences, the Employer’s Agent (EA) role becomes increasingly pivotal, encompassing a broad spectrum of activities from the initial site set-up to overseeing various project procedures. Their responsibilities include ensuring compliance with health and safety regulations, conducting site inspections, and monitoring financial aspects such as cost management and quality assessments. The EA’s active engagement during this initial phase is crucial for setting the stage for the entire construction process. Let’s delve into these key responsibilities in more detail.


Initial Site Set-Up

The Employer’s Agent (EA) is crucial in the initial site set-up for a design and build project. This includes participating in site inductions to understand the project fully and ensuring compliance with health and safety standards. The EA also reviews the contractor’s site arrangements, focusing on welfare facilities and overall site efficiency. Early preparation by the EA is vital for smooth project implementation, emphasizing the importance of detailed planning and coordination from the start.


Early Inspections

The Employer’s Agent must conduct initial inspections as construction commences to ensure the project adheres to the agreed plans. This involves verifying the accuracy of the setting out and the quality of early construction works, ensuring they meet contractual standards. The EA should diligently record inspection notes and swiftly issue instructions to rectify deviations, minimizing potential delays and additional costs. This proactive oversight by the EA sets a performance benchmark for the remainder of the project.


Early Meetings

In the early stages of the project, the Employer’s Agent is responsible for organising regular project team meetings to facilitate effective communication. These meetings are crucial for sharing information, addressing issues, and keeping everyone aligned with the project’s progress. The EA should also determine the frequency and format of these meetings to ensure their effectiveness. Additionally, the EA prepares monthly reports for the employer, providing accurate and timely updates on the project’s status, challenges, and progression towards goals. This reporting is fundamental to the EA’s role in maintaining transparency and keeping all stakeholders informed.


Financial Procedures

The Employer’s Agent is tasked with establishing payment certification dates and scheduling the issuance of these certificates. This is essential for maintaining smooth progress in construction by avoiding financial delays. The EA also reviews the valuation process, overseeing the methods used to estimate the cost of completed work and ensuring that all payments are accurate and equitable. This approach reduces the risk of misunderstandings and disputes and contributes to efficient project progression.



As we conclude this exploration of the Employer’s Agent’s (EA) role in the early stages of a design and build project, it’s clear that the EA’s involvement is pivotal for setting the project on a path to success. The EA’s contributions are integral to navigating this critical phase, from initial site set-up and risk assessment strategies to effective communication and financial procedures. In our upcoming articles, we will delve into the construction phase and project completion, providing further insights into the EA’s continuous role in ensuring project excellence from start to finish. Stay tuned as we unravel more aspects of the EA’s responsibilities in the dynamic world of design and build projects.


Read next in the series: Employer’s Agent 101: Overseeing Construction.