The role of a building contractor

Thursday July 15 2010

By Sharon M. Omurungi

A building contractor engages in the planning, developing and coordinating activities that help in the building of the structure, writes Sharon M. Omurungi.

Building contractors are the brains behind every building that surrounds us. They have many duties to accomplish everyday for the project to end in time. Like any other job, while doing their duties, contractors also encounter some challenges.

The commonest role of a contractor known to a lay man is to put up a building. However, there is more to this than meets the eye. It does not matter what contractor one may choose, they will still be expected to do certain work that is expected of them within the stated period of their contract.

Eng. Fred Mubiru of Macno Technics Limited, says some roles depend on the contract that has been signed between the client and contractor. There are two types of contracts that will dictate what kind of work the contractor will carry out.

Admeasure contract
Eng. Mubiru explains that in this case, the client and contractor agree to be paid on a particular finished product. “In this contract, the contractor buys all the products that will be used at the site,” he says “the client then measures what you have done and pays you.” He explains that the challenge with this kind of project is that, though some clients pay the fee after the job is done, others are reluctant to pay. Some contractors lose their property after the bank demands for the money. “Sometimes you go to the bank to borrow money hoping that the client will pay on time,” Eng. Mubiru explains.

Labour contract
Unlike, in the admeasure contract, the contractors’ role is to build, that is; labour. The contractor is not involved in buying the materials. Eng Mubiru says contractors do not like this type of contract because they miss out on the procurement process. He adds that the challenge does not only stop at buying poor quality products for the job, but also the client may not pay regularly. “The contractor may not be able to plan his schedule because of the irregular payments; he cannot also hire competent workers to do the work.” This always results into not finishing the work on time where it may take a client more than the specified time to finishing the construction of the house/building.


Their duties
According to, it is the contractor’s duty to acquire all necessary licenses and permits from relevant entities so that the building project can begin. However, Eng. Mubiru says this has always been a challenge. Sometimes one cannot start the project because there are unresolved wrangles of who owns the land. He says that this affects the contractor because they have invested a lot of time and money. Whether the work is going on or not, the contractor still has to pay labourers for the time wasted. He advises that it is important to carry out an investigation about the nature of the soil to ensure that the site is firm. “If the soil is water-logged, the contractor may ask the consultant to re-design the foundation,” he says.

Additional roles
Contractors can also give advice to the consultant and the client. The consultant works as a guide to the contractor. He makes sure that the contractor follows the original designs of the building. “It is important to have a consultant because some of these contractors cannot be trusted. Some may buy a few products than what they were meant to have bought initially just to save some money for themselves. Or some can even run away with the whole amount,” Eng. Mubiru explains.

Your choice
Eng. Mubiru advises that there are things that any client should look out for when choosing a contractor as they will be many approaching him/her. “When they present their bills of quantity, you should go for competence.” He argues that the fact that a contractor may present the bills of quantity with a small price doesn’t mean that they will do their work to the best, there could be a problem. He adds that the financial ability of a person is also important because if they have less these may be the same people who will run away with your money.

The technical ability of a contractor should be considered. Has he done this kind of work before? Has he succeeded in doing it? Check his legal status; that is if he pays taxes and has an income clearance. For the contractors work to be approved, he has to write a method statement. This shows how he will carry out the work. This will work as an assessment on whether he can do the work or not.