Top 6 parties in building construction and their Duties in Nigeria

There are many parties involved in the complex operation of building design and construction in Nigeria. These parties can be classified into three groups: the client who may be individual, a local authority, a government parastatal, a community, the government ministry or any other corporate body; the consultant who may be the Architect, structural/ civil engineer, quantity surveyor, and the service engineers ( mechanical and electrical engineers). Their role is to interpret the client’s requirements into specific design as supervising the work to ensure they are carried out to a successful conclusion. The third person is the contractor who turns the Architect’s drawings into reality. The contractor employs the services of sub- contractor and specialist in this regard.

However, it is necessary to have a clear understanding of their Duties/ responsibilities, legal rights and Liabilities.

The 6 parties are:

(a) The Client

Duties and Responsibilities of the Client

pre-contract or commencement stage: At the pre-contract or commencement stage, the duties include

(1) Briefs the Architect on his requirements with reference to space available, location of the new building, the amount he is ready to spend and the duration of the project.

(2) Ensure that the Architect is in possession of all the known facts such as survey plan, encumbrances etc.

(3) On receiving the Architect’s views on type, size, shape and cost of the building consider whether the project should proceed.

(4) If the project proceeds, signs contract after agreeing to tender figure.

(5) Sign contract after tendering.

(6) Pay the consultant for their professional services.

Contract and post contract stages: At this stage the duties include:

(1) Honour the necessary payments of former certificates, extra contractual claims when confirmed and professional fees.

(2) Make settlement on final certificate.


(1) Employ other person’s to carryout instructions if contractor does not.

(2) Appoint Clerk of work

(3) Assign responsibilities in respect of insurance

(4) To deduct damages for non-completion

(5) Determine the contract where contractor fails to perform his duties

(6) Engage artist and tradesmen

(7) Antiquities found in the site

(8) Determine his contract with the professional advisers for tort ( negligence, nuisance or trespass)


The client may be liable if he:

(1) Fails to carry out approval responsibilities within the period stated in the contract

(2) Fails to honour the payment of professional fees.


Duties and responsibilities of the Architect

Pre-contract or commencement stage: The duties and responsibilities include:

(1) He advises the client and make careful analysis of the client’s requirements.

(2) Consults with local authorities for planning approval and other statutory authorities that will provides services to the site.

(3) Brings together other consultants and coordinates the activities of the consultants

(4) After the client has assessed cost limits and time scale and give approval to the sketch plans, the Architect can proceed to the contract drawings and prepares specifications.

(5) After the preparation of bill of quantities, he tenders the project for the selection of building contractor.

CONTRACT STAGE:  At this stage the duties include:

(1)  Suppervises the project to make sure the works are executed in accordance with the contract documents

(2) Issues interim certificates of payment to the contractor for the client to settle.

Post contract stage: The Duties include

(1)  Upon completion of the project, issues certificate of completion

(2) Issues final certificate of payment after the defect liability period which is normally between three to six months.

Legal rights of the Architect

(1) Issues instructions when justified

(2) Access to the works at all reasonable times

(3) Open up, test and remove defective work and dismissal of persons

Liabilities of the Architect 

The liabilities of the Architect include:

(1) Misinterpretation: Making an untrue statement of fact by the Architect either before or at the time of entering into the contract with the intention that the other party will act upon it. It May be innocent when made without intention to become fraudulent when made knowingly. The Architect become liable when he misrepresents facts and brings loss to the client or any other party involved.

(2) Negligence: This involves failure to exercise reasonable care or skill. It may be carelessness or outright incompetence. He becomes liable when his carelessness or incompetence bring loss to the client or any other party in the building process.

(c) The Quantity Surveyor

Duties and Responsibilities of Quantity Surveyor

pre-contract or commencement stage: The duties include:

(1) Prepares approximate estimate and cost plan from sketch drawings.

(2) Advises on the availability of materials

(3) Advises on final cost of the project

(4) Prepares bill of quantities stating the quantity and quality of materials needed for the projects

(5) Checks the accuracy of priced bill during tender to ensure that the builder has made any serious errors that may cause complications at a later date

(6) Informs the Architect of the estimates correctness.

Contract stage: The duties include:

(1) Values the amount of work done and materials delivered to site for interim or final certificates to be prepared for payment

(2) Prepare cost analysis of the job in comparison with other building and informs the Architect on the running cost of the project.

Post- contract or completion stage: The duties include:

(1) Prepares final account with the aid of builders receipts and other documents

(2) Assist the Architect to prepare extra- contractual costs.

Legal rights of Quantity surveyor

Quantity surveyor has legal rights to:

(1) Access to the works at all reasonable times to carryout valuation.

Liabilities of the Quantity surveyor

Liabilities include:

(1) Misrepresentation: Trying to conceal facts either before or at the time of entering into the contract with the intention that the other party will act upon it.The Quantity surveyor becomes liable if the misinterpretation brings about loss to the Client or Contractor or any other person’s involved in the project.

(2) Negligence: When the Quantity surveyor fails to exercise reasonable care or skill due to carelessness or incompetence. The Quantity surveyor becomes liable if the Client, Contractor or any other party suffers loss due to considerable errors in valuation etc.

(d) The Structural Engineer

Pre- contract or commencement stage: The duties include:

(1) Design all the steel bars for reinforcement, their positions and method of placement in the building to reinforce the contract. This involves detailing, schedule

(2) Carries out soil test, the strength of materials and their suitability and construction methods.

(3) Specifies the ratio of concrete or mortar mix required for the building to be of sound strength.

Contract Stage: The Duties include:

(1) Provides effective monitoring to ensure compliance with specifications.

(2) During the contract assist to modify or re-design the work as may be necessary

Legal Rights of the Structural Engineer

Structural Engineer has legal rights to:

(1) Access to the works at all reasonable times for suppervion to ensure compliance.

Liabilities of the Structural Engineer

The Liabilities include:

(1) Misinterpretation: By making untrue statement of fact before or at the time of entering into contract with the intention to deceive. Where the Client or any other party to the contract suffers loss,then the Structural Engineer is liable.

(2) Negligence: If the Structural Engineer is negligent by careless or incompetent and becomes liable if the Client or any other party suffers loss.

(e) Services Engineers

The Services Engineer are consultants in specialist areas such as plumbing, heating, Electrical and sewage services, they are Mechanical or Electrical Engineers. In performing their functions, they have responsibilities, rights and Liabilities.

Duties and Responsibilities of the Services Engineer

pre-contract or commencement stage: 

(1) Carry out preliminary and final design of the project within the scope of their specialist field

(2) Produces calculation and other relevant data that may assist the Architect design, the Quantity surveyor in his cost control or the local authority assessment of the suitability of the project regarding statutory requirements

(3) Prepares working drawings including specifications detailed enough for the project execution.

Contract Stage: The duties include:

(1) Assist in the modification or re-design the work as may become necessary

(2) Monitors the work to ensure compliance.

Legal Rights of the Services Engineers

The services Engineers have legal rights to:

(1) Access to the works at all reasonable times for the suppervission of the work.

Liabilities of the Service Engineers

The liabilities include:

(1) Misinterpretation: By concealing facts and becomes liable when the Contractor or Client suffers loss.

(2) Negligence: When the Services Engineers do not exercise a duty of care duo to carelessness or incompetence and becomes liable where the Client or Contractor suffers loss.

(f) The Contractor

The contractor executes the construction of the project in accordance with the drawings and specifications. In carrying out this function he has responsibilities, rights and Liabilities.

Duties and Responsibilities of the Contractor

pre-contract or commencement stage: The duties include:

(1) The Contractor on receiving application for tender should decide whether or not he will be capable of executing the work according to the Architect’s specifications.

(2) Carryout site investigation to ascertain possible areas of problems

(3) He tenders for the contract after deciding on final tender figure.

(4) Sign the contract after tender has been accepted.

Contract Stage: The Duties include:

(1) He should control his labour and materials including sub-contractors and also ensuring that he adhere to regulations affecting the construction of the building.

(2) He ensures that his site agent must at all times work with the Clerk of works to ensure harmony between the parties and the smooth running of the project.

Post-contract or completion stage: The Duties include;

(1) Upon the completion of works, he should provide all necessary information to Quantity surveyor to complete final account and extra contractual payment as necessary.

(2) He should carry out his obligations to complete the defects liability clause, and maintenance work as agreed at the inception of the project.

Legal Rights of the Contractor

The rights of the Contractor include rights to:

(1) Variation and claims

(2) Ownership and protective responsibility of unfixed materials

(3) Claims for disturbance of regular progress of works

(4) Determination of the works

(5) Arbitration Where necessary

(6) Assign and sub- let part of his work

Liabilities of the Contractor

The Contractor becomes liable if:

(1) In respect of third party injuries and insurance

(2) To cost suffered during determination

(3) To cost suffered during arbitration procedures

(4) If the Contractor Carries out any non-contractual responsibilities of the Clerk of work

(5) If the contractor does not carry out and complete the works in accordance with drawings and specifications without any contractual explanations.

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