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Building Designs Using Contractors, Subcontractors, and Documents for a Successful Build


The architectural, engineering, and construction industry is a continually evolving one. With the growth of construction sites, the number of contractors and subcontractors increases correspondingly – this change is not only of quantitative but also qualitative nature. Over the last decades, it has faced new challenges, including the need to increase efficiency and productivity even further. Design is at the core of this issue, as this architectural activity may pose an array of problems. Building designs entails complications connected to technical information, the singularity of design, and taking into consideration the interests of different stakeholders. In the process of building design and its execution, a particular place is allocated to contractors. The contractor’s principal role is mainly associated with the implementation of a plan and designating subcontractors, whose highly-specialized skills will be used to complete particular sections of a project. Nonetheless, the extent to which a contractor is involved in the design process does not seem sufficiently researched with scarce information available.

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The Extent of Contractors’ and Subcontractors’ Functions in Building Designs

The collaborative nature of designing and construction is manifested in the early stages of the processes. The complexity of the procedure necessitates a contractor, as a potential intermediary, to be able to perceive multiple flows of information. Research has shown that a significant amount of time in design is used for managing data – integrated concurrent engineering is an approach that assists in managing the problem since it was developed to endorse collaborative behavior during the design stage (Knotten et al., 2017). It allows contractors and stakeholders to work together on the same issue at the same time; thus, design and construction can proceed in unison. Consequently, the design meetings that include contractors can ensure that efficient communication is established between all the parties involved. Knotten et al. (2017) describe a case study and state that “since the client, designers, and contractors were present, the interfaces could at least be discussed properly. The broad representation in the ICE session also provided the right knowledge” (p. 12). In this way, a significant part is allocated to contractors in managing information at the early stages of the designing process, which helps to ensure the overall success of a project.

The extent to which a contractor is involved in the design process is seemingly limited. In general, under a traditional contract, a contractor is not obliged to participate in a project’s elaboration and is not responsible for its design; however, this tendency has two exceptions. First of all, a contract can include this obligation and liability (Chappell, 2017). In the second case, a contractor may take it upon themselves, which is also not exceptional. It is a function of an architect to indicate the items that engage design, and the role of a contractor is to procure the items with the help of subcontractors or suppliers (Chappell, 2017). This procedure becomes more intricate if a design contains a defect, and it becomes apparent. It is stated that “although the subcontractor or supplier may have design liability to the contractor under the subcontract, the contractor does not have the same liability to the employer under the main contract” (Chappell, 2017, p. 20). As a result of such a situation, an employer should redress the case with an architect.

Construction is a process that contains many closely related elements – the contractor’s design portion is an indispensable one. It is a document according to which a contractor is assigned to construct a particular section of the ongoing work. Additionally, it serves as a protective measure against unaccountability for defective design, which may arise from the work of an architect, a contractor, or a subcontractor (Chappell, 2017). For instance, presently, when an architect searches for parts or materials that form a part of a structure that they will not design, the contractor’s design portion should be used (Chappell, 2017). The document could be considered an integral part of a contract regarding the link between designing and building.

Design coordination is another partial responsibility for a general contractor. Even though it is a process that calls for cooperation between multiple sides (holders, architects, contractors, and subcontractors), coordinating a design requires detailing into a fabrication model (Fernanda, 2019). Fernanda (2019) notes that “mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection (MEPF) subcontractors’ development of a fabrication model is not design service. In other words, engineers remain responsible for the design, and contractors and subcontractors remain responsible for construction and installation” (p. 55). However, a general contractor ensures that the process of design integration results in a set of designs that can be executed and will exclude errors and inconsistencies between their components (Fernanda, 2019). A contractor is also frequently charged with visiting a construction site to gain valuable insight, which could be relevant during the design process. If design coordination is effectuated correctly by a general contractor, it can help to avoid delays, unanticipated costs, and interruptions during the building period.

With the continually growing complexity of construction, the demand for a more specialized workforce increases alongside. The tendency for rather colossal dimensions of construction work entails the need for a higher number of subcontractors who would be to a degree charged with tasks that general contractors usually perform. In design-build projects, an architect may examine the materials that subcontractors procure, thus engaging them in the process of building design (Fernanda, 2019). Likewise, a subcontractor can perform a reviewing function on a construction site, ensuring that the progress occurs in accordance with the plan. In this way, a subcontractor’s engagement in building design is somewhat limited; still, a subcontractor can indirectly participate in it, performing tasks that a general contractor may entrust them.

All elements considered, designing a building requires the engagement of a number of people who overview the work on different stages of its completion. The function of general contractors may transcend the execution and management of activities needed for a project’s termination directly on a construction site. A general contractor has responsibilities in diverse segments of a project. In addition to supervision, management, organizational and legal aspects, a general constructor can participate in design meetings or even in designing a building, though with a number of limitations as this activity is not principal for the position. General contractors, seemingly, can perform functions that an architect would in small-scale or remodeling projects. Subcontractors are used even less extensively in tasks related to building design – their function is more executive. In some cases, due to the growing extent of construction works, a constructor may delegate some of their responsibilities to a subcontractor, which would include them in the designing process.

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The Specificities of Building in Florida and the Needed Documentation

Building in Florida is a complex subject, regulated primarily by the Florida Building Code. Due to its geographical location and the history of natural disasters, the need to regulate constructions in Florida is motivated by supplementary protection measures. For instance, the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina showed the need to adjust coast building standards. Such cataclysms may serve as an indicator for weak sides in construction practices on a certain territory – the number of buildings that did not endure was a sign that change was needed. Attempts to create a unified building code applicable to the whole state have a long history in Florida, as a disaster occurring on the state level would require a consolidated set of standards to manage its consequences. The issue became evident enough by the end of the nineties when the notion was adopted, and the Florida Building Code was established. The document is a product of history and environmental characteristics peculiar to the state.

This statewide set of regulations compiles instructions for private and public buildings and acts in accordance with other documentation. For example, Florida Statutes also contain directives regulating several aspects of building processes. The statutes oblige every person, commercial, or governmental organization to receive a permit when architectural activities are in question (International Code Council, 2017). The building, demolition, or modification of an architectural structure is supposed to be effectuated based on a permit obtained from a building department in a specific city. Maintenance is the only activity that does not necessitate securing a building permit (International Code Council, 2017). In other cases, the type of permit needed depends on the type of work planned that varies from erecting a building to slight remodeling. In a significant number of cases, the permit is issued to a licensed contractor; nevertheless, a proprietor may be eligible to obtain it on the ground of owning a territory. The requirements for building permits may vary depending on the area – in the state in question, they are regulated by Florida Statutes.

Before applying for a building permit, an array of issues associated with the future construction site should be settled. Construction plans need to be presented and satisfy statewide standards. The process of building plans approval consists of several steps and may entail considerable changes in them. If the building plans are authorized, examinations can be conducted on the construction site while the work is still in progress to ensure compliance (International Code Council, 2017). Furthermore, additional restrictions could be enforced on industrial buildings, as a permit for this type of construction is harder to obtain. The Florida Building Code and Fire Prevention Code are the two primary documents to which a construction plan should adhere. Therefore, applying and receiving a building permit may take a significant amount of time, seemingly, up to a month, and involve paying specified taxes.

In addition to construction plans, some other documents should be presented to obtain a building permit, an essential document ensuring a successful build. In Florida and some other coastal states, an elevation certificate may be needed – the document enlists a number of characteristics for a construction site, among which are location, flood zone, and points indicating its highest and lowest elevation (International Code Council, 2017). The need for an elevation certificate is based on the state’s flooding history and its habitualness in the country in general. By requesting the certificate, the costs spent on eliminating the consequences of potential flooding can be saved, and the safety of state citizens assured.

Wind load certificate indicates, seemingly, the pressure and the angle that wind creates on a surface. This certificate may also include recommendations for incorporating specific structures into a building plan given by a designated engineer (International Code Council, 2017). The recommendations are supposed to warrant that the wind pressure on a building is relieved or that it can resist a higher one. A number of private engineering groups that perform the procedures needed for the certificate exits across the country.

Depending on their size and the number of people that they are supposed to shelter, some types of buildings may require obtaining additional documents. Buildings that exceed dimensions and the number of individuals housed noted in the Florida Statutes are classified as threshold buildings and undergo further inspections of their structural components (International Code Council, 2017). To obtain a building permit so that a contractor can perform any of the architectural activities on a threshold building a structural inspection plan should be provided to the corresponding institution (International Code Council, 2017). Consequently, the institution appoints a licensed architect or an engineer to perform a threshold inspection. A structural inspection plan serves to outline the steps of examination to ensure the efficiency of a threshold inspection of a building or a construction site. Threshold inspections are usually completed while the construction of essential components of a building is in progress, protecting the people that are supposed to live in it from disasters linked to large-scale construction defects.

When the application process is finished, a local building department is supposed to inform the applicant. The results must be disclosed within one month of the completion of the process. If the application is approved, a building permit will be issued; otherwise, a written note is given (International Code Council, 2017). The note usually summarizes particular features of a plan or sections from the Florida Building Code that were not followed and provides specific recommendations. If the note is not issued during the month after the application is accepted, it is considered approved, and a building permit is supposed to be granted the next day. Therefore, only commentaries regarding the request should be deemed a refusal.

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Erecting a building requires colossal efforts from all the parties involved – from subcontractor to shareholders. Designing a building is one of the initial steps in this process, and it is a task, in most cases, completed by architects and construction designers. The extent of involvement of general contractors in this process is altered by several factors, including the scope of a project, type of contract, and technologies engaged. The extent of involvement of subcontractors is limited even further and may revolve around tasks linked to material procurement. Nevertheless, before these procedures start, a list of documents should be compiled in conformity with requirements established by a particular state. In Florida’s case, the application for a building permit is regulated by the Florida Statutes, Florida Building Code, and Fire Prevention Code. The application process requires an individual to submit general and state-specific documents. Construction plans are the most critical part of the application for a building permit; inconsistencies with Florida Building Code lead to the issuance of a written notice, delaying construction works. Therefore, a successful build requires collaboration and major thoroughness throughout.


Chappell, D. (2017). Understanding JCT standard building contracts. Routledge.

Fernanda, L. (2019). BIM for design coordination: A virtual design and construction guide for designers, general contractors, and MEP subcontractors. John Wiley & Sons.

International Code Council. (2017). Florida Building Code (6th ed.). International Code Council,

Knotten, V., Lædre, O., & Hansen, G. K. (2017). Building design management – key success factors. Architectural Engineering and Design Management, 13(6), 479–493.

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StudyCorgi. (2022, January 12). Building Designs Using Contractors, Subcontractors, and Documents for a Successful Build.

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"Building Designs Using Contractors, Subcontractors, and Documents for a Successful Build." StudyCorgi, 12 Jan. 2022,

1. StudyCorgi. "Building Designs Using Contractors, Subcontractors, and Documents for a Successful Build." January 12, 2022.


StudyCorgi. "Building Designs Using Contractors, Subcontractors, and Documents for a Successful Build." January 12, 2022.


StudyCorgi. 2022. "Building Designs Using Contractors, Subcontractors, and Documents for a Successful Build." January 12, 2022.


StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Building Designs Using Contractors, Subcontractors, and Documents for a Successful Build'. 12 January.

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