What does the architect do during construction administration? Should I pay for construction administration after the design is finished?
We recently received a list of questions about construction administration from a client. Construction administration (CA) is often called “construction observation.” It’s the idea that you keep the designer or architect involved during construction. This may be a few hours a month or even less of the architects time, and it is usually billed hourly.
Many clients like to remove the architect after they get their plans. They figure it’s money saved. However, it’s not always a good idea.
Every contractor knows that it is extremely rare to have a set of plans with all the specs detailed perfectly. And even on the off chance the plans are perfectly complete, there may be unexpected changes. The owners may change their minds about something or construction may hit an unexpected snag.
Our client sent us some excellent questions, so we wanted to share them here. If you’re about to accept a bid, you’re probably asking yourself the same things.
A: If we are not consulted as changes are made by the contractor, then we are exposed to liability. For example, something may be built wrong (e.g., not built to code, not built according to drawings, or done without engineer consultation). Or something may be done that you don’t like. In either case, it comes back to the architect, and the architect is not going to work for free to fix things that they should have been consulted about before problems occurred. However, If there is a verifiable mistake in our drawings, we will, of course, agree to correct the problem at no charge.
A: Some contractors argue that they can fulfill the role of designer as needed during construction. They probably can get the project done, but even so, both the finished project and your experience will be better with a second opinion from the architect — even if it’s only an hour a month of review.