Construction of a community-led housing project

There are several ways of running a community-led housing construction project. These are the most common approaches.

The project group

Before commencing on the construction of the project, it is essential to agree how your group is going to oversee and control it. The best course of action is to set up a project board or group or sub-committee with delegated responsibility to act on behalf of the organisation as a whole. Here’s a suggested format for this grouping:

  • The Chair and/or CEO of the project group
  • The Treasurer or lead finance trustee
  • The group’s project coordinator
  • The architect (project manager)
  • The contractor’s construction manager.

The different approaches for construction

In broad terms there are three main routes to delivery of the project, each with varying levels of risk to the project group.

Trade Packages: This involves developing the project in a series of packages of work such as joinery, electrical, plumbing and heating.

Traditional Contract: This involves the employment of a professional design team to produce full working drawings, with the appointment of a single contractor on a build-only contract basis.

Design and Build: This method involves employing the professional designer to undertake a concept design, establishing the basic requirements of the project group. This is then put out to tender to various contractors to provide the detailed design and construct the agreed scheme.

Standard forms of contract have been developed by the construction industry for all of the above by a variety of bodies including the Joint Contracts Tribunal (JCT), New Engineering and Construction Contract (NEC) and many others.

How do we select a contractor?

Take advice from your project manager, consider all the options and ensure your group is in agreement. Many groups begin by using a pre-qualification process which involves offering a number of contractors the opportunity to simply express an interest in taking on the works.


Once you have chosen on the most suitable method of construction, the project can be offered to the short-list established from the pre-qualification stage or to the open market to provide tenders. It is good practice to approach several contractors to ensure impartiality. Criteria for assessing contractors usually include issues like capacity, track record, skills, experience and availability.

The appointment of the contractor may be led by the professional team, working with you, or you can lead it yourselves. The professional team will be working closely with the selected contractor, so their input into the selection process is important.

Overseeing construction

If the trade packages or traditional contract options are adopted, the professional team will remain involved throughout the project, overseeing the construction works. Usually, there would be a project manager within the professional team with responsibility for managing the contractor’s site activities. This role requires them to work very closely with your group’s overall project manager.

If the method chosen is Design and Build, the process is different. Once the scheme is detailed enough to appoint the contractor, the project passes to the contractor who is then responsible for completion of the design and the management of construction.

Read more about delivering a community-led housing project