Building Construction Decision Making: Who’s in Control?

The process of designing and constructing a new building can be rather complex due to the number of different parties involved. The architect used to be the most important decision-maker throughout that process, especially regarding material choice. However, the central role of the architect is not a given anymore. 

The role of the architect has been changing over the years. Other parties have been gaining influence on the decision on materials and brands to be used. To reach those target groups as well,  manufacturers and brands of construction materials have to adjust their marketing.  

But who are these ‘other parties’ that influence decisions in the design and construction process of new buildings? The answer can be found in the 2022 report of USP Marketing Consultancy’s European Architectural Barometer, which focuses on decision-making in the construction process. According to architects from eight European countries, building owners and main contractors are the most important co-decision makers.


The Influence of Building Owners and Main Contractors on Material and Brand Decisions

On average, building owners and main contractors are considered the most important stakeholders when deciding on both materials and brands. There are some significant differences per country, however. 

Looking at brand choice for certain building materials, for instance, 78 % of architects in the Netherlands say main contractors are the main stakeholders. In Germany, on the other hand, only 9% of architects mentioned main contractors. In Germany and the UK, building owners or end users are the most important stakeholders when choosing the brand for building materials, as mentioned by 76% of architects.   

Digitalisation’s Impact on Co-Decision Making in Building Construction

We have seen main contractors gaining influence in the design and construction process for a while now. This trend is especially apparent in the Netherlands and Belgium. The increasing involvement of building owners is a more recent development that is most visible in Germany, the United Kingdom and Italy.  

Although there are many ways to explain the rising influence of these parties, digitalisation is a major underlying factor for both. On the one hand, there is the digitalisation of the construction process, for instance in the form of Building Information Modelling (BIM). This allows executing stakeholders like main contractors to be involved in earlier stages of the design and construction process.  

On the other side, numerous digital sources allow building owners to easily find solid and relevant information on construction materials, systems, their implications, and the brands producing them. As a result, building owners can be well-informed decision-makers, instead of leaving most decisions on materials and brands to architects.  

The Future of Building Construction Decision Making: What Manufacturers and Brands Need to Know

We expect parties other than the architects to continue gaining influence at earlier stages of the construction process. That is partly based on the above connection with the digitalisation of the construction sector, but also on other trends.   

Technological development of materials and systems causes buildings to be increasingly complex. Architects cannot be specialised in every technical aspect of a building. That means that they will have to rely on specialists like engineers more often, who will consequently gain influence on brand decisions. At the same time, technological developments create more options for building owners, meaning they will have more decisions to make at the start of the design process as well. 

For manufacturers and brands of construction materials and systems, it is very important to keep track of these changing roles and influences of stakeholders in the construction process. Knowing who influences the brand decision for your product group will allow for effective and efficient marketing strategies. For a full overview of the changing decision-making units in building construction, we refer you to the 2022 report of USP Marketing Consultancy’s European Architectural Barometer.  


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