What on earth is Contract Administration?

Contract Administration is when an Architect acts as an independent 3rd party to administer a building contract between an owner and a builder. This is not to be confused with the loosely used term ‘project management’ which is not really a correct term for the role an Architect plays on a project.

When an Architect administers a contract there are several advantages for the owner and also for the builder. An Architect can issue instructions to the builder that are in accordance with the contract and the project documentation (the details of the design to be built). This helps to ensure the work is constructed exactly as intended.

As part of the ‘Contract Admin’ role, an Architect will assess invoices (progress claims) made by the builder for payment by the owner.

As building is a very complex process it’s often difficult for an owner to understand if a claim represents the work completed, or the materials to be ordered etc. It’s often difficult to understand why a variation might amount to a particular cost, or how and why design changes or additional scope can have such a big impact on project cost.

Contract administration can also assure the builder that they will be fairly paid and can often help to ensure fair play from an owner. An Architect acting in this role is professionally obliged to be non biased.

Contract administration is usually done on an hourly basis with an accurate estimate maximum, as it can be difficult to establish exactly how many hours will be required. This can amount to a considerable cost and is not necessary for all projects. In most cases however the cost of an Architect of administering a contract can deliver high value to the quality of the work and the fairness of the process for both an owner and a builder.