Clients are an important part of a system in the construction industry called a project. The Project Management Institute (PMI) defines it as an endeavour with a definite beginning and a definite end undertaken to create a unique product or service.

A construction project involves a temporary endeavour of putting up a structure within a specified duration. It consumes resources such as construction materials, finances, time and labour. These inputs are provided by the client who initiates the project.

The client is the owner of the project. They provide the funds for procuring professional services, buying materials, organizing labour and all other expenses that get involved to realise the project.

The project starts with a brief from the client. They explain in detail to the architect or the project manager their needs and what they envision for the project. This should be done in sufficient detail and with clarity to enable the design team to make informed decisions on the most viable solutions. The various constraints such as clients’ requirements, available budget and site-related constraints are the shapers of this solution.

Therefore, it is important to understand the types of clients that you will encounter in the construction industry. Whether you are a construction professional, a building contractor, a financier or a student, the following are the client types that you are likely to come across in the construction industry.

Construction Client Types

Private Clients

These are the individuals who would like to undertake the construction of a building for their occupancy or renting out to tenants. It includes those who would like their house built, altered, extended or maintained.

For example, if I have a piece of land in the suburbs of Nairobi and I want to put up a three-bedroom apartment for renting out, I will be considered a private client. I am the person who will initiate the project and provide all the necessary resources for the project to move from design to actual construction and completion.

Commercial Clients

This category of clients is referred to as commercial because they are involved in the business.

It includes businesses or legal entities such as private and public limited companies and non-governmental organizations that initiate and fund a construction project. A company may want to put up a staff housing block or develop an office block for sale or renting out to other businesses.

Quasi-governmental Clients

These are government organizations that are in the construction business to satisfy the welfare of the citizens. They are mostly referred to as parastatals or corporations.

The quasi-governmental clients include corporations such as the National Housing Corporation (NHC), Kenya National Highways Authority (KENHA) or the various local government authorities such as the government of your home county.

They initiate projects depending on the needs of the citizens and obtain a subsidy for funding the projects from the central government. Their main aim is not to make profits. However, they may collect money to facilitate seasonal maintenance and repair the structures they put up; whether they are renting them out to the public or using them to offer services to the public.

The Government

The central government is also a client. It may initiate and fund construction projects to offer basic services to the citizens of the country. These include the construction of schools, markets, hospitals, and roads. Also, the installation, maintenance and repair of public utilities such as water, gas, petroleum and electricity.

The government of Kenya issues initiates such projects through its various ministries. Public service officers employed by the government may serve as consultants in those projects. Sometimes, the government partners with private firms to deliver those projects.


We have looked at the types of clients that you are likely to encounter in the construction industry. Therefore, you will be working with either the private clients, commercial clients, quasi-governmental clients or the government as your client.

All you need to do is understand the various characteristics of each, how they initiate projects and the various procurement routes that they may adopt.

Every client is different with a unique project and unique requirements that should be met. Understanding your client is an important part of creating a smooth and lasting business relationship for you and your organization.

Are there other types of clients that you have encountered in your study or practice? Let me know in the comments section below.