Project Planning

Is it better for the client to buy the lighting on a project?

During a building project, light fittings can either be supplied by the client, which is also known as free issue, or by the contractor.

Understanding the difference between these two ways of working is important for the smooth running and success of a project. There are several elements to consider when deciding which is right for your project.


If the lighting is supplied by the client, they may be able to secure some discounts from suppliers, which will save money. If lighting is supplied by the contractor there can often be a mark-up on the products supplied, to cover handling and management. If the project is VAT-exempt or reduced, then the lighting will need to be supplied by the contractor to benefit from that reduction.


Whoever is supplying the lighting is responsible for ensuring the right products are delivered at the right time. If the contractor supplies the lighting, they then need to manage this process, and delays will be their fault. If the client supplies the lighting, they will need to ensure everything arrives at the site at the right time. Should any fittings be incorrect or faulty, the person supplying is responsible for getting replacements.


If the contractor is supplying the lighting, you should ensure they have the experience to supply the right light fittings. This is particularly important if you have had a lighting design completed by a designer or architect. Even when a detailed specification is provided, the process of supply can be complicated.

Whichever method you are choosing – client supply or contractor supply – there are a number of places to source your lighting. Read our guide to sourcing your lights.

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