Using an architect to administer the contract during construction will likely save you time, money and a lot of frustration. If you are trying to cut costs by reducing the architect’s involvement during construction you may not get the quality you have paid for in the design and documentation stages.

Architects fees are spread across all stages of a project – Concept Design, Detailed Design (includes DA/CDC submission as required), Documentation, Tender/CC and lastly the Contract Administration stage. The Contract Administration stage of engagement is essential for a good result as a diligent architect will ensure that the contract documents are being adhered to, any queries are addressed promptly and they can ensure that any information is provided to the builder to avoid delaying the project and also ensure that any variations submitted are valid and are correctly assessed.

What is the architect’s role during contract administration?

Our role throughout this stage involves us to:

  • Prepare the contract documents for signing by both parties (client and builder)
  • undertake periodic site inspections, check work in progress regarding design quality control, materials selections and performance as described in the contract documents.
  • review shop drawings and submissions by the building contractor or other Contractors.
  • provide supplementary details and information. Often items such as the Joinery, Lights and Bathware are allocated as Provisional Sum or Prime Cost amounts and the detailed drawings / selections are submitted during this stage. This allows flexibility by obtaining quotes so that the preferred contractor and their price can be selected.
  • provide instructions to clarify the contract documents where required.
  • check and approve variations for price or time delays and ensure you are not being overcharged
  • arrange and attend site meetings and other meetings as required.
  • provide the client with regular reports regarding time, cost and progress.
  • assess progress claims and issue progress certificates.
  • ensure Provisional/Prime Cost amounts are correctly recorded.
  • determine defects and have them rectified by the builder
  • notify when Practical Completion occurs.

Having an architect involved during the construction will make the process less stressful as you know that what is being built is in accordance with all that has been designed.

Some common questions that we hear are:

Can’t the owner do it?

A diligent architect produces well-documented and carefully considered architectural design. If the architect isn’t there during construction, do you have the ability to check that the design is being adhered to and you are getting what you paid for? The architect acts as your agent to ensure that materials aren’t being substituted, the documents are followed and that variations are entitled. Some builders prefer the architect not to be involved for this reason.

Good builders appreciate the architect’s involvement so that items can be properly clarified and be given instructions for a successful build. Builders prefer to build, not involved in drawn-out problem solving meetings on site. This wastes their time especially when they are asked to give their design advice, should the architect not be involved. They want decisions to be made quickly and cannot always foresee the ramifications of these on other aspects of the design.

Unless the owner has significant construction experience and a lot of time we would recommend against the owner administering the contract.

Architects usually have a good relationship with suppliers and will be provided a generous discount which they should be passing on to the client. These can include appliances, lights, bath and tapware, fabrics, window and door hardware and furniture.

What building contract do I use?

When an architect administers the contract, the architect will recommend a suitable Contract issued by the Australian Institute of Architects and Master Builders Association that provides a balanced and fair Contract to both parties. If an architect is not engaged during the construction period, the Builder will use a contract that is more lenient towards the builder (usually issued by the Master Builders Association).