The difference between project consultancy and project management

Feb 7, 2023 | Business, Knowledge and Know How

In most states of Australia, project managing new construction or renovations requires a particular licence.

If you don’t hold this project management or supervisory licence, or the associated insurance to cover such work, you must make your client aware of your service parameters and leave this terminology out of your toolkit.

In our recent Member Survey, almost half of the participants indicated that they offer project consultancy services. Project consultancy differs from project management in the following way.


Defining Project Consulting and Project Management

Project Consulting

Project consulting includes delivering advice and services to customers and suppliers in relation to your design projects. It includes assistance with procurement and the introduction and referral of tradespeople, suppliers, customers and other professionals. You may receive fees for elements of your service, assistance and advice.

However, you will not take responsibility for the management of the project: your services are confined to assisting customers or suppliers in their management of projects. Of course, your consulting services must not include works that may affect the structural performance of a building.

In summary, you will:

  • Obtain quotations for supply of materials (e.g. tiles), fixtures (e.g. luminaires, appliances, installed mirrors) and fittings (e.g. soft furnishings, free-standing furniture)
  • Seek out quotations for required trade services (with the client to contract directly with their selected trades)
  • Assist client in liaising, communicating with and coordinating trades


Project Management

Project management is the arrangement required in order to carry out building and construction projects. It includes the responsibility and control of most or all project elements, including design, drafting, engineering, administration, construction, procurement, site management, the appointment of trade contractors, suppliers, installers, inspectors, surveyors, or supervision of trade contractors, suppliers, installers, inspectors, and surveyors other professionals.

The roles of a project manager include:

  • Planning project timing
  • Preparing and controlling the project budget
  • Coordinating all trades to ensure they are on-site when required
  • Arranging and conducting on-site meetings and inspections with trade services
  • Supervising various trade services and liaising with subcontractors

When members seek a quotation for their PI insurance through the KBDi group policy, they’re led down a line of questioning to determine if they project manage or offer project consultancy services. Put simply, the former won’t be covered under our group policy, but the latter is more likely to fall within the scope.


How should you clarify the extent of your services with your client?

We’ve tailored the wording in the KBDi Design Consultancy Agreement to help you clearly communicate where your work begins and ends in the building or renovation process. If you haven’t downloaded the 2023 version yet, visit the Members Portal today to check out this essential business tool (free with KBDi Membership).


More about Licensing Requirements

Each Australian State and Territory has a ‘building authority’ to regulate construction and licencing.

Designers should be aware of which trades and service providers require licencing, when building work approvals are necessary, and the authority’s requirements for building work contracts.

It should be noted that the class of a residential building (i.e. Class 1 or Class 2) may also determine the licensing requirements of trades or service providers. In New South Wales, for instance, Class 2 dwellings fall under the complex Design & Building Practitioners (DBP) Legislation and have a long list of eligibility criteria. (You can learn more about this here.)

To get clear about the licensing requirements in your state, visit the relevant regulatory body below:

ACT Government

Fair Trading

NT Government

Queensland Building & Construction Commission

SA Government | PlanSA

TAS Government | Consumer, Building & Occupational Services

Victorian Building Authority

WA Government


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