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What Are The Consultants Needed For ICI Construction Projects?

ICI Construction: Industrial, Commercial, Institutional

Occasionally, I get asked what is the biggest difference between residential construction and ICI (Industrial, Commercial, Institutional) construction. In a nutshell my answer is “complexity”.

With the exception of high-density residential apartments, ICI construction is a more complex industry on almost every level from financing, to design standards, safety standards, and building codes. Due to this added complexity, ICI construction often requires professional consultants to help manage or design various components of a project.

With that in mind, this post focuses on introducing you to the more common consultants needed for ICI construction projects in Ontario. 

Project Managers

Depending on the size, complexity, and contract style of a project, a client may not have the time, skill, or capacity to manage their responsibilities of a given project. When that is the case, a project manager or owner representative may be hired to act on their behalf. The responsibilities of a Project Manager will vary depending on the contract style of the project but, in general, main the responsibilities of a Project Manager encompass the following: 

  • Identification, recording, and communication of the goals and scope of a project to all stakeholders

  • Creation and/or oversight of the project schedule

  • Creation and/or oversight of the project budget

  • Risk Management, document management, and resource management

  • Leadership, negotiation, contract management, and payment certification


On any given project, an architect is often involved at every stage of the building process, from initial concept development and schematic design to construction documentation and project management. With residential construction, most homes do not need an architect. They can be designed by a BCIN Home Designer with the proper certification and insurance. However, that certification has its limits. When larger buildings are being planned or if they have a component of public use, architects become legally required to facilitate the design and planning of that facility. There are some exceptions to this rule and you can refer to this bulletin by the OAA to see where your project stands.

Architects are trained professionals who hold the responsibility of ensuring projects meet the building codes, planning codes, accessibility codes, life safety codes and any other municipal or provincial acts or codes that may apply to a project. They will often lead design team meetings and communicate with approval authorities to ensure permits are obtained. Throughout the construction phase, architects perform site inspections to ensure the plans are being followed properly and provide solutions to design oversights that did not come up during the design stage. 

Construction Managers

A Construction Manager is a consultant whose responsibilities will vary depending on the contract style. They may act as the prime consultant and in some cases absorb the Project Manager’s responsibilities. In a strict CCDC5 contract, Construction Managers are contracted by the owner to provide consultation during the design phase on cost, material selection, schedule, safety, and constructibility of any working drawings. They may be responsible for obtaining permits and site plan approval.

During the design phase, Construction Managers are responsible for on site leadership, health and safety, managing the budget and construction schedule, managing risks, and ensuring clear communication to the design team with regards to any questions, changes, or deviations in regards to the plans. Construction Managers will also contract and coordinate all the sub-trades required to complete the construction of the project. A Construction Manager’s responsibilities may be taken on by the general contractor or design-builder depending on the contract style or delivery model the project has taken. 

Quantity Surveyors

Quantity surveying is an area of professional consulting which focuses on understanding, estimating, and verifying the costs of a planned or on-going construction project for a client. Quantity surveyors (QS) are often consulted on large projects to assist with estimating and procurement. They may be hired by governing bodies to help with costing out roads, bridges, or other large infrastructure projects.

Large private clients may also consult a quantity surveyor to estimate costs in order to obtain financing for a project. For small to medium sized jobs, a general contractor or project engineer should be able to provide sufficient budgets for financing purposes. 

The other common use for quantity surveyors is payment certification. Many financial institutions will require clients to hire a third-party quantity surveyor to verify that invoices properly reflect the amount of work that has taken place on a job site. Should a conflict arise, the QS may act as a mediator to help resolve the issue or keep negotiations alive so that construction can continue. A half-finished construction project is one of the worst-case scenarios for clients and lenders, thus the added layer of review that a QS brings can be highly valuable. 


Everyone knows in general what an engineer does. They design stuff so that it works! In construction, there is a lot of stuff that needs to work. Thus, there are many types of engineers that specialize in various niches of construction. Each area understands the building codes and design criteria that pertain to their speciality. This is a summary of the main areas of engineering:

Structural Engineers

Structural Engineers ensure that foundations, walls, roofs, floors, and all structures are designed to manage the various loads and abuse they will take throughout the lifetime of the building.  

Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing Engineers

Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing Engineers are often grouped together and referred to as MEP engineering since these systems need to be closely coordinated during design. Mechanical engineering is typically your HVAC systems. Electrical engineering is your power supply for the base building and your process needs. Plumbing engineering is for your water supply and drainage systems. 

Civil Engineers

Civil engineers are responsible for designing all the site features outside of the building. They will design the site elevations, storm water management systems, fire routes, parking lots, loading/unloading areas, green spaces, and utility connections. A complete civil design is one of the first sets of working drawings required in order to obtain site plan approval. Civil, MEP, and Structural engineers are required on the vast majority of ICI projects. These next groups are more specialized. 

Environmental Engineers

Environmental Engineers specialize in mitigating the environmental impact of construction projects. They assess risks and develop strategies for waste management. They ensure compliance with regulations.

Miscellaneous Specialty Engineers

Misc Speciality Engineering. There are all sorts of other speciality engineers that may be required depending on your project including, but not limited to, fire safety, sound, wind, solar, geotechnical, transportation, and water resource engineering. On most ICI projects, some sort of study will be required as part of the feasibility review stage so being aware of these engineering groups is helpful. 

Land Use Planners

Land use planners, often simply referred to as a Planner, are not needed for every construction project. Typically, they will either have already been involved at an earlier stage when the land was being designated a specific zone or they will only be needed for complex site plans, rezoning applications, official plan amendments, or other higher level bureaucratic processes.

Planners are powerful consultants whose job is to understand the local process of land use planning and to interpret the laws or definitions that apply. If your project is in a rural setting with the proper zoning, you likely will not need a planner. If you have a vision to rezone a valuable piece of land, redevelop a building in the downtown core of your city, or remediate a brownfield, consult a planner first. The advice they can provide in even a preliminary meeting can help steer you in the right direction. 

Land Surveyors

A land surveyor is a professional who measures and maps land and other features on the surface of the earth. If you own a parcel of land, a surveyor would have created the boundary for your property and worked with a lawyer to register it into provincial and municipal databases. In construction, surveyors are used during the initial design phase and throughout the construction phase. They will perform legal surveys and topographical surveys and produce CAD drawing files showing all the features of a given site. They may help with creating the boundary of an easement or the lot line for a property severance.

These surveys are a key starting point from which a designer can begin laying out the design for a project. During construction, surveyors are used to ensure foundations, curbs, and other major structures are being placed in the exact proper location according to the drawings. Your civil engineer or general contractor will know of good surveyors in your area. These surveyors know the history and features of the land in which they work so it may be best to find a local firm. 

engineer consultants talking on an ICI construction project site wearing blue hard hats

Will There be Other Consultants Needed for ICI Construction Projects?

This post would need to become a book if I were to include all the various types of consultants that may be needed for your ICI project. The main takeaway for those interested in taking on an ICI project is that it can become complex. Take your time with understanding the various delivery models of construction and carefully select your prime consultant and design team who will help capture your vision and see it through to completion.

See our recent post below, titled “5 Common Types of Construction Delivery Models,” to learn more about your options. 

*Note, this blog is intended to provide general information on various construction related topics. Contact your local construction professional for advice related to your own projects. Should you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact us at


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