Contract Administration/Project Manager

What is Contract administration/Project management on a Building Project?

Contract Administrators Role

What is Contract administration?

Contract Administration is a term you may or may not be familiar with. Sometimes referred to as Project Management, although the roles might appear similar there are some differences (we will discuss this later in this article)

Within the fields of Architecture & Construction, a successful Contract Administrator will assume overall control and responsibility for driving the project forward.

A Contract Administrator on a construction project will use their skill and expertise to deliver the best result to the client (to use a cliché) ON TIME & ON BUDGET!
On a residential project, say a kitchen extension, they will be involved from start to finish.

They will not only design the project but also take care of:

  • Critical Form Filling
  • Negotiating with Planners & Building standards
  • Prepare Construction drawings
  • Issue Tender Documents
  • Assist Client to Select a Contractor
  • Supervise Construction
  • Obtain Completion Certificate
  • Oversee Contractor payments

A Contract Administrators role won’t officially begin until there is a contract in place.
It is possible for someone to design the project and someone else to act a Contract Administrator, however, it makes sense, for obvious reasons that the same person act as designer and Contract Administrator.

A good Contract Administrator will ask questions to detect assumptions and resolve conflicts, sometimes before they arise.

One of the greatest advantages of hiring a Contract Administrator is that it reduces your risk as the client, a risk that may threaten the success of the project and rob you of the joy and excitement that investing in a project should bring.

The role involves managing the contract between the employer (The Client) and building contractor. Although employed by the client, the Contract Administrator ensures that the contract is fair, So, the Builder carries out his duties as per the contract and the Client pays the builder on time!

How Does a Contract Administrator Reduce Risk?

Risk usually rises from uncertainty, Contract administration can significantly reduce uncertainty from a construction project by implementing tried and tested processes at each step, for example at the pre-construction stage a thoroughly prepared document will be produced that details every element and item of the project, this leaves nothing to chance, hence reducing the risk of being lured in by an unrealistically low quote/price only to be hit later on with a large bill for ‘Extras’ that were not on the drawings.

This happens every stage of the project, risk reduction is checked and measured throughout the lifetime of the building project.

Who Acts as Contract Administrator?

Although the role of Contract Administrator has traditionally been filled by the Architect there are several professionals who can fill this role, such as:

  • Architect
  • Architectural Technologist
  • Building Surveyor
  • Quantity Surveyor
  • Structural Engineer

The role of the Contract Administrator will be determined by the type of contract used (There are many).

At John Webster Architecture we are mainly involved in residential projects and use SBC Homeowner Contract (With Consultant) (June 2013)

See a sample contract here: http://www.sbcconline.com/documentsample.aspx?docId=45

Project Manager V Contract Administrator

There is sometimes confusion regarding these roles, so what is the difference between a Project Manager & Contract Administrator?

Project Manager

Well, the clue is kind of in the names, a project manager is more deeply involved, perhaps on a day to day basis, from the project inception through to completion. Often employed full time in this role.

Rarely is this a service that is required in residential building projects.

Contract Administration

A Contract Administrators role will officially begin when there is a contract in place, which may not necessarily be at the beginning of a ProJet, there may have been considerable design work done up to this point.

A Contract Administrator, as mentioned earlier can be someone different from the designer of the building project.

They will carry out site inspections at intervals required for the specific project (Normally weekly)

This service is particularly suited to residential building projects.

Why Should You use a Contract Administrator?

At John Webster Architecture we spend many months working with you, developing your design and generally getting to know the finer points of your project inside out.
It makes sense to carry this over to the construction phase where we will be on hand to explain our design to the contractor.

We ultimately are working for our client’s satisfaction and want you to have the best experience possible during your building project, the chances are that you will only be doing this once and will be plowing your hard-earned cash into this, so its critical that you make it as painless as possible and get it right.

We want to work with happy clients and don’t want you to have to fend for

Here is what we do:

1) We conduct Site Visits on a regular basis (normally weekly).

2) We confirm that the building contractor is carrying out work according to the design and specification.

3) You want to avoid any unnecessary delays to the project, so we are on hand to iron out issues & conflicts that may arise and resolve these quickly and effectively.

4) We Instruct interim payments to the contractor, so, therefore you only pay for the work that has been done to that point.

5) We liaise with Building Control throughout the construction process.

6) We assist you with preparing the snagging list and ensuring this work is carried out. that the Completion Certificate is issued.

7) We are responsible for health & safety (2015 CDM) regulations being observed.

8) As professionals, it is our policy to be involved in the construction process of every project, namely to reduce risk, ensure our clients get the best experience and are protected as best as possible.

The Cost of Contract Administration

The cost of Contract administration is very modest when compared to the cost of the construction, yet in some respects, this element Is more important.

It can be the cost of not having a Contract Administrator that is greater.

What do we mean?

Well, in our experience the cost emotionally and financially can be devastating, a price in £, s cannot be put on the emotional turmoil & stress you go through when things go badly wrong during a construction project, it can consume you.

The risk financially is much greater without a Contract administrator, for example, there will be no list of works document that details every item and element of a project, there will be no experienced eye to ensure that the contractor is using the right materials, you will find that things run better with site supervision.

We want to tell you this, no to frighten you but to make you aware of the risk of not having this and realizing there is something that you can do about this.

In our experience, the cost of hiring us for this stage pays for itself in terms of the value, expertise and risk reduction by means of us to you not to mention the money you can save by having a very specific costing schedule and a contract.

Given that it’s your home and probably your single biggest asset, we have really started to emphasize the need for this service.

In Review

  • This means that we prepare full construction specification and costings for tender documents, these get issued to at least 3 contractors which I review with you before we select a suitable candidate.
  • Once construction is underway we provide site supervision (generally site visit once per week and phone calls, emails etc) by administering the contract between you and the contractor.
  • At the end of the works, we obtain the completion certificate and ensure that any snagging is carried out to a satisfactory standard.

You will be then free to enjoy your new space!

Further reading:
Contract Administration Guidance Notes (see link below)
http://www.rics.org/Global/Downloads/Contract_administration_1st_edition_PGguidance_2011.pdf