Why engage an architect during construction?

Architects possess the most appropriate training and experience to totally coordinate and manage your building project.

Involvement in the initialdesign concept, early planning and determination of your needs for the building, puts your architect in the best position to effectively plan the work, brief the builder and provide the most cost effective solution.

Throughout the project, your architect will control the design, planningand quality of workmanship and materials to meet time and budgetary constraints.

Your architect will be your independent adviser, liaising on your behalf with builders, consultants and suppliers and ensuring compliance with the spirit and intent of the project.


Most standard contracts include provisions for the contract to be administered by an architect. Some allow for administration by a ‘superintendent’ and one, the ‘Administration By Proprietor (ABP)’ contract is written to allow the owner to administer it. Having been responsible for the design and documentation, your architect has an intimate understanding of what is required by the contract and is therefore in the best position to administer it on your behalf.

Contract administration calls on your architect’s skill and professional judgement in a variety of ways including:

  • assessing and certify ing payments to bemade by you to the builder – ‘progress payments’
  • issu ing, assessing, referri ng and authori s ing any contract variations
  • assessing/determi ningcomplianceof materials and workmanship with the quality specified in the contract
  • assessing and determi ning any extensions of time
  • determining and formally notifying the date of practical completion
  • notification of faults during the ‘maintenance period’
  • determining completion and final certification

Your architect has three quite distinct roles during contract administration. They are:

  1. to act as your professional adviser
  2. to act as your agent
  3. to value and certify payments, contract value and time extensions or contractions.

In the first two roles the architect is entitled to promote your interests. In the third, the architect must act absolutely impartially between you and the builder. Some building contracts describe the roles of agent and of certifier or valuer in some detail.


In the course of construction as part of their responsibility, your architect will visit the site at regular intervals to inspect the works, attend site meetings, advise the builder and issue instructions.

In the role of contract administrator, your architect will ensure as far as possible that all work is in accordance with the contract, however it is the builder’s duty to closely supervise the construction of the work and to ensure complete compliance with the requirements of the contract documents.


For the duration of the contract, your architect must maintain effective communication with the builder to enable proper performance by the builder of the terms and conditions of the contract. Such communication will include instructions and directions given where necessary on any defect of the construction and may include explanatory sketches and drawings.

If any instruction should involve a variation in the cost of work, it is the builder’s responsibility to notify your architect of any change to the project cost before carrying out such instructions

Typical of such instructions is the issue of notices and directions as to the quality of materials and workmanship required by the specification, as well as the listing of outstanding work to be attended to by the builder before ‘practical and final completion’ is achieved. The builder is required to comply with instructions given by your architect.

In addition, your architect, in compliance with the terms of the contract, will issue ‘progress payment certificates’ at regular intervals, the ‘notice of practical completion’ and the ‘final certificate’ at the completion of your project.


Your architect may nominate specialist subcontractors, especially when there are only a limited number of firms capable of satisfactorily undertaking a particular section of the work on your project. Similarly, your architect may nominate a particular supplier of materials.

If monetary allowances (‘provisional sums’) have been provided for in the contract documents it will be necessary for your architect with your approval to instruct the builder on the selection, purchase and/or installation of all items for which such allowances have been made.

Specialist subcontractors and materials suppliers can be engaged through negotiation or through calling tenders.

The tender process can be managed by your architect or the builder or a specialist consultant according to your requirements. (For example, a mechanical engineer may supervise the tender process for the supply and installation of airconditioning units.)

You should expect your architect to discuss these contractual arrangements with you and make recommendations; however, it is important that the supplier or subcontractor selected is acceptable to the builder as only the builder has a legal, contractual relationship with the supplier or subcontractor.

Subcontractors and suppliers may be selected at the same time as the builder or at a later stage as required.

Sections of the work are commonly handled in this way include electrical, mechanical and airconditioning, lifts and escalators, precast concrete, etc. Items to be provided by specialist suppliers will usually include sanitary fittings, door hardware, floor coverings, light fittings, kitchen equipment, ‘white goods’, etc.


Situations may arise in which the builder is unable to complete all contractual obligations by the stipulated date for practical completion. In such cases, your architect is required to consider the builder’s claimand if appropriate grant an extension of time, adjusting the practical completion date accordingly. Delays may be caused by:

  • local authorities
  • variations to the original contract
  • industrial disputes
  • disputes with neighbours
  • bad weather
  • delays in issuing instructions
  • other matters beyond the control of the control of the Builder

In cases where a delay is beyond the builder’s control, the contract usually will require that the builder be paid adequate compensation for costs incurred by the delay. The possibility of delays occurring can be minimised by:

  • properly prepared contract documents bei ng used
  • establ i shing that the contract price i s fair
  • establ i shing trust andcooperation between the parties
  • adequate timeallowed for construction of the works
  • prompt decision making
  • maintaining effective communication between all parties throughout the project.


The date for practical completion is the date nominated in the contract for the works to be completed and available for use. This may be subject to change. Your architect is required to issue a notice of practical completion after being satisfied that all the work has been completed in  accordance with the contract, that all equipment and services are fully operational and that the project is fit for occupation.

Before issuing the notice, the architect will undertake a comprehensive inspection and list any items which require further attention by the builder.

Once the notice of practical completion is issued, you can occupy the building and you must take responsibility for its insurance from the date of that notice.


Under the terms of the contract, the builder remains liable to remedy defects in workmanship and materials which become apparent during the ‘defects liability period’ specified in the contract. The builder is required to rectify such defects during the period and/or at the end of the period as instructed by your architect.

Prior to the completion of the defects liability period, your architect will undertake a ‘final certificate’ inspection and list any unsatisfactory items for the builder’s attention. All items listed must be rectified to your architect’s satisfaction before a final certificate is issued. This gives you protection against faults developing after occupation for the length of the defects liability period (which can be as long as 12 months depending on your requirements).


At the satisfactory completion of any required rectification work, your architect will issue the final certificate. This signifies the successful completion of the defects liability period and formally completes the contract between you and the builder.

It also certifies the release of any security or retention sum which may have been provided by the builder under the terms of the contract.


Even after the defects liability period, many materials, services and specific items will remain under guarantee or warrantywhen such have been provided for within the contract documentation. Your architect will advise you on maintenance contracts which may be necessary for the

on-going operation of machinery and equipment. In entering into such a contract it is essential to ensure that neither the warrantor’s nor the builder’s responsibilities are interfered with or voided.


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