Construction Administration, an Owner's Best Friend
True or False An architect’s job is done once construction documents are completed and construction starts?
We’re hoping you said the answer was false. If you already knew that, I think you’d be surprised how many owners have the preconceived notion that architects hand over their designs to contractors once construction begins. However, an architect’s job doesn’t end there. This is where architects can offer owners and clients the invaluable service of construction administration, which actually can be the most time consuming and record intensive of all architectural design services. Construction administration, or C/A, sometimes requires a separate contract between the owner and the architect, but its benefits can be large and quickly seen, as we’ve experienced over the years. C/A gives owners peace of mind that their project will be constructed per the drawings to ultimately ensure that the design is carried out, and additionally, lessens the design team’s liability.
Architects performing construction administration make sure that the project is being built according to the design, including ADA compliance, proper material use, and fenestration locations.
Construction Administration Basics: Architects and owners agree to a certain amount of visits to the construction site (typically weekly). The architectural construction administrator prepares field reports that reflect their site observation comparing what is being built to the documents. The architectural construction administrator is NOT on site to direct or provide construction supervision - that is the responsibility of the contractor.
Now it's time for a little thing we (and Jimmy Fallon) like to do called Pro's and Con's.
Pros for the owner:
- SAVES MONEY: Potential problems that might arise during construction can be identified early on
- PROVIDES OWNER WITH PEACE OF MIND: Architect’s involvement helps supplement Owner’s construction knowledge
- ENSURES THE PROJECT IS BUILT PER DESIGN: Requests for information (RFI’s) that could impact the design are reviewed by the Architect to maintain the project’s design intent
- KEEPS THE PROJECT ON SCHEDULE: Architects that return shop drawings and RFI’s to the contractor quickly can help avoid costly delays
- COMMUNICATION STAYS A PRIORITY: keeping meeting minutes is another duty of C/A. These reports can be vital if questions arise later in the construction process
- ENSURES THE PROJECT IS (REALLY) BUILT PER DESIGN: The architect will walk through the building when completed to see to it that everything has been constructed per design. Items that were not constructed correctly will be noted on a punch list, then the owner can decide to accept the change or request it be corrected.
Cons for the owner:
- Cost / Additional Contract but spending a little up front can save lots later (see first Pro above)
- No others. Seriously, none.
As an architect and someone who often diligently completes construction administration services, I view C/A as a vital service to ensure the Owner and Architect’s vision is brought to fruition. It should be a collaborative and positive process between all parties to make the long and often tedious construction journey a smooth and successful one.