The design of public buildings is not just a technical issue or a matter of aesthetics. Good design has a key role to play in improving the quality of services provided by the public sector. A well designed building can, for example, help patients to recover from illness more quickly or encourage better learning among schoolchildren. It can also benefit the service deliverers who work within it, by contributing to staff recruitment, retention and motivation. In short, good design can increase the value for money that the building provides across its whole life.
Auditors are frequently called upon to make judgments on the quality of public construction projects at various stages of the procurement process. When doing so, it is important that they consider wider issues than just the initial capital cost. Value for money in construction involves completing a project to time, cost and a level of quality that meets the need. A good project will continue to provide value for money and meet user needs throughout its lifetime, and will contribute to the environment in which it is located with a wide range of social and economic benefits. An early investment in design quality can help deliver these benefits.
This guide has been developed by the National Audit Office (NAO), the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), and the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), in association with the Audit Commission. Its purpose is to provide auditors with an understanding of the value of good design in construction, and a firm basis for examining whether good design has been achieved in a particular project. While not meant to replace existing audit practices, it includes a set of simple but searching questions to evaluate construction projects, and suggests the types of evidence that will help to answer those questions.