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The architect hired by a client is responsible for creating a design concept that meets the requirements of that client and provides a facility suitable to the required use. In that, the architect must meet with and question the client [extensively] to ascertain all the requirements and nuances of the planned project. This information, known as a program or brief, is essential to producing a project that meets all the needs of the owner—it is a guide for the architect in creating the design concept. Architects deal with local and federal jurisdictions about regulations and building codes. The architect might need to comply with local planning and zoning laws, such as required setbacks, height limitations, parking requirements, transparency requirements (windows) and land use. Some established jurisdictions require adherence to design and historic preservation guidelines.

Architects typically put projects to tender on behalf of their clients, advise on the award of the project to a general contractor, and review the progress of the work during construction. They typically review contractor shop drawings and other submittals, prepare and issue site instructions, and provide construction contract administration and Certificates for Payment to the contractor (see also Design-bid-build). In many jurisdictions, mandatory certification or assurance of the work is required.

Depending on the client's needs and the jurisdiction's requirements, the spectrum of the architect's services may be extensive (detailed document preparation and construction review) or less inclusive (such as allowing a contractor to exercise considerable design-build (functions). With very large, complex projects, an independent construction manager is sometimes hired to assist in design and to manage construction. In the United Kingdom and other countries, a quantity surveyor is often part of the team to provide cost consulting.