At an early stage in the project, an assessment will need to be made as to whether external professional assistance is needed. Generally, if the project is more than a small-scale improvement scheme then some professional assistance will be necessary. This section considers the issue of engaging professionals in general, but with particular emphasis on building contractors, landscape professionals, ecologists and artists, as these three skills are particularly relevant to community-led projects.
On tap rather than on top
Although there are benefits in appointing the right professional, care does need to be taken to ensure that the professional is ‘on tap rather than on top’. In the normal community-led project, the professional is more appropriately called the facilitator, providing assistance and advice. The more traditional role of the professional takes the project out of the hands of the client and delivers the project on his or her behalf. On a community project, this traditional role could easily remove the project and process from the group’s control, leaving them with very little influence on the end result.
Once you are aware of the pitfalls then there are clear benefits in having professional assistance and help, particularly if the project is of a larger, more complex nature.
Some key benefits would be the following:
- Professional help in the production of plans may be essential to secure grants for the project.
- Specialist advice may be mandatory for health and safety reasons if complex construction is proposed.
- If some of the works haven’t been undertaken in a professional manner then site insurance may be invalidated.
- Site opportunities in the design of the site or in identifying ecological value may be lost without professional help.
- Specialist construction work will need professional management.
Knowing who you want
Once you have accepted that you need some help, it is important to identify the type of help you need.
Key professionals you are likely to need help from include the following:
- Building Contractors
- Landscape architects
Other professionals that you may need assistance from include:
- Land surveyor
- Civil/structural engineering
- Landscape Scientist
Tendering is the process by which you find contractors for your project. It is, essentially, a formal offer for a professional to complete the work you need doing.
In smaller-scale projects that don't require professional assistance, this will not be an issue. For any project where you will be engaging professionals though, this is an important process.
Please take a look at the Tendering page for more information.
Go to the next section - Legal issues
Tendering for the public sector