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The Value of Contract Administration
The Value of Contract Administration
Wagga Uniting Framing Contract Admin
May 31, 2020

It is certain many people want to save a dollar here or there. The question is whether or not you are better placed at putting a dollar towards an Architect to take your project through to completion or not. Let us take a look at the design process; it generally looks like this:

    1. Concept and/or Sketch Design
    2. Planning/Development Approval
    3. Construction Documentation
    4. Tender
    5. Contract Administration

If we understand that most architectural fees generally lie between 10 and 15% of the build cost, withholding the opportunity for the Architect to take the project through Contract Administration is gambling on the design intent to be carried through into the final finish. Let us look further at the strategy and involvement of the Architect at each stage of the design process.

Concept and/or Sketch Design allows you as the client to confirm your wishes and allows us as the Architects and/or Designers to make sure that the communication of your ideas are clearly understood. It is fairly usual to miss some nuances from this stage on the final construction documentation through the numerous meetings and discussions we have had in our Client/Architect relationship.

Planning/Development Approval allows the Architect to undergo an assessment with council to ensure the planning code is met and if it is not met, a decision is made by the council to accept or reject the design proposal. Councils provide a sounding board for developments to measure against. It is ultimately the responsibility of the Builder to comply with the planning regulations as these form part of the conditions of the building permit. If a design pushes the Council’s planning regulations and approval has been granted; without Contract Administration the Builder is technically not able to seek advice from the Architect on matters for planning. Therefore decisions can be made without design intent as a priority.

Construction Documentation is where the information derived from discussion and detailing is noted. A good Architect is going to document every minor detail in the Construction Documentation for the builder to refer to. However, without physically building the project before finalising the Construction Documentation it is difficult to know if something has been missed or if a detail clashes in its physical form and further amendments and fast decisions are required. Without a knowledge of the design journey and design intent of a project, it is difficult to make a call with design intent in the forefront. Allowing the Architect the opportunity to manage the design during construction, provides an outcome for you as the Client which prioritises the design journey.

The Tender Process also encourages the process of information to be disseminated to all Tendering Parties as it becomes available and/or is amended from the original. Without Contract Administration, the Builder is left without support on details and information if and when it needs amending. Most Builders naturally can handle this, however it is often seen favourable for an Architect to support a Builder during the construction of a development, no matter the size. Again, an un-contracted Architect is likely legally unable to provide advice.

From a legal perspective, the Architect forms the third party to three party build contract. They become the mediator and assessor of disputes between the Client and the Builder.

From a financial perspective, a home and/or other building is often the largest expense you will have in your life. The design process often takes longer than the build process and it is financially beneficial to use professionals trained in design to manage design outcomes. Architects with experience have history they can call on and have usually been many different building sites managing design.

If you feel like you have the team without the Architect to mimic and provide advice of an equal and greater nature it can be quite tempting not to use the Architect during the construction of the project. However, we would encourage you to think about your design journey and the impact of not having an Architect onboard for Contract Administration before you ultimately decide to stop Architectural Services at an earlier stage.

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