Why Should I Use an Architect to Administer the Construction?

If you are planning to save money by limiting the architect’s involvement during construction, you are likely to pay more in time, money and frustration and may not get the quality you have paid for in the design stage.

If considering engaging an architect, partially or not at all, our clients need to be aware that contract administration is essential if they want a good result. Contract administration puts in place a mechanism for architects to assist those who are new to the project to achieve the desired result.

Engaging a proactive architect will limit variation charges and increases in construction cost, by both seeing potential issues before they occur and by understanding if a claimed variation is actually a variation or simply something the builder has missed in the short time they examined the documentation during tender. 

Our engagement during construction administration means we; 

  • liaise with the builder to assess the quality of work at key stages and ensure the contract and specification are delivered. 
  • keep you informed of progress and let you know when key decisions need to be made.
  • provide clarification or more information when the contractor requires it - we also ensure the design intent is followed.
  • verify and approve variations in price or time delay - and ensure you are not overcharged.
  • check and certify progress payment to the builder.
  • ensure provisional sums are correctly accounted for.
  • identify defects and administer their rectification.
  • handle any disputes between the builder and yourself by assessing the differing claims according to the contract.
  • advise you when practical completion occurs.

Engaging an architect in the construction phase means you can sleep better knowing you get what you paid for. It also significantly reduces your time spent on the construction site, so you can focus on your family, lifestyle and business. 

A few common misconceptions: 

The builder will figure it out; it’s their job.

Builders want to build, they do not want to solve problems on site in a last minute conversation with the owner. If the architect is not around, the owner will need to answer questions. As the builder can’t afford to have people standing around, a quick decision will need to be made. And it will need to be the right one.

If both the architect and the contractor are present, I have to pay twice!

The builder and architect perform different roles. The architect acts as your agent, representing you on site, making sure that the design intent and documentation is followed during construction. This requires a great deal of coordination and cooperation from both parties.

Builders don’t like architects to be on the construction site. 

Some contractors may prefer not to have an architect engaged, but this may not be of the best interest for the owner.  For example, if the architect is not around it’s easier to substitute materials, not follow the documentation, and claim work as a variation that is clearly specified in the contract documents. 

Good builders prefer to have the architect on site to answer questions, give instructions and have a professional and informed point of contact to make design decisions if required. 

Contractors know all drawings and documentation.

While some contractors are great at building, they sometimes lack the diligence of reading all drawings and construction documentation. What sometimes appear to be a small detail on paper, can lead to a bit issue on site, and if not picked up on time, can result in a large cost variation to the construction. 

The architect knows and understands every detail in a project. minimises errors and foresees possible issues. This ensures the construction runs smooth, saving money and time for all parties involved. 

The owner will oversee the construction. 

If you pay for an architectural design, you are getting considered and carefully crafted plans. If you then remove the architect from construction, do you really know that you are getting what you have paid for in the plans? The builder may decide to substitute a material or finishes, which may then change the overall quality or aesthetic of the design. Are you able to make this assessment and decisions?

Each time you instruct the builder to change a detail, he will charge a variation to the contract for their time, material cost and margin. Changing your mind or fixing a wrong decision can quickly add considerable cost and become very expensive.

The owner can build it themselves.

Becoming an owner-builder is a viable option, but unless the owner has extensive construction experience - or time and spare money to learn from mistakes, it may be best to leave it to the professionals.