The importance of a Lead Designer

Most construction projects involve more than one design discipline designing different elements of the building. That may include Architect, Structural/Civil Engineer, Building Services Engineer and specialist design consultants. If all the designers and consultants work in isolation, it increases the likelihood of co-ordination issues. The Lead Designer ensures that all design elements are co-ordinated and therefore it is important to appoint a Lead Designer on all projects.

The role of Lead Designer involves additional services beyond those expected from a consultant who is not appointed as a Lead Designer. When appointing the consultants, it is important to establish the best suited designer for the role and ascertain the scope of services required. This will then allow the consultant to provide a fee for the services. Assumptions cannot be made that the role of Lead Designer will be included within the agreed fee unless the role of Lead Designer has been explicitly allocated and the services agreed.

A Lead Designer integrates and co-ordinates the designs of all design disciplines including those outlined above. The Lead Designer is often the Architect as their own design creates the framework for the rest of the design, enabling them to review and challenge these designs when submitted. The role involves identifying design gaps, ensuring that they are filled, and to negotiate robust solutions when clashes occur.

The Lead Designer doesn’t have to be the Architect as it will depend on the specific project. If the project has a high services involvement, then the Building Services Engineer would be an appropriate Lead Designer. If the project is a refurbishment or renovation project the Building Surveyor might be appointed to the role where their training and expertise in the building materials applied to the existing fabric could make them uniquely qualified for the role.

In the appointment itself, it is important to review the programme and lead times for different packages and agree timescales for them to co-ordinate and comment on the information submitted. These comments will then be fed back to the other designers for them to review and make any amendments. Following the amendments, the Lead Designer reviews, and co-ordination is carried out again until the information is suitable for construction.

To ensure that each project has a co-ordinated design it is key that a Lead Designer is correctly appointed, and the scope of services are clear for the delivery. Without the Lead Designer the risk of the design not being co-ordinated and clashes occurring would remain with the company employing the designers and/or consultants.

Should you need any assistance in establishing who the Lead Designer needs to be and/or determining an appropriate scope of services, we can support you and your business with this. Find out more about our services here.

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