Updated: May 31
Providing Construction Administration services for Single Family Homes projects (new houses or additions/renovations)
If you have interest in Design or have worked with an Architect or Designer before, you may be familiar with the different phases in a project. If you are new to the process, then you will learn something that may help you in the future.
In every project there are some subtle variations, but it mainly consists of 5 steps:
1. Schematic Design
2. Design Development
3. Construction Documents
4. Permit Application
5. Construction Administration (some people call it also project management)
I would love to talk about the first 4 phases, but actually I would like to engage you in the most “obscure” of the phases, which is Construction Administration.
Construction Administration consist on two main aspects: Bidding and Control of the work and payments during construction.
Now that you understand this, let’s move on.
The Bidding is the process where the client or Architect send the approved drawings to many contractors and choose one based on several aspects: experience, reviews, insurance, but mainly price. The architect will help you clean the weeds and choose the appropriate one.
The control of the work:
In every project we work, the contract specifies 2 (two) site visits during construction, which is the minimum that in our opinion, any Architect should include.
We also always add construction Administration as Additional Services for the client to choose from.
So you sign the contract and as a client, you think that you are covered with the two visits, but it is enough? Well depends on various factors but mainly, in the size and the difficulty of scope of the project. As you can assume there is not much an Architect can do in two visits, and if the project takes more than 6 months which most of the projects do, so definitely is not enough.
I hear many times the argument that the project should be designed and detailed enough for the contractor to build without any questions. In reality a project is never finalized during the “paper” phase. There are multiple aspects that the architects expect the contractor to know, and build accordingly. The construction documents are “legally” a design intent and nothing more. The more information the Architect provides then the design intent will be more closely followed or that’s what is expected, but it will never cover every item. If an architect were required to detail until the last fastener, the project will take longer and the fees will be way higher.
Contractors, as any other professional, come in various degrees of professionalism and skills. Clients sometimes try to save money hiring the least experienced contractor. I’m not blaming them. Construction is expensive, don’t be fooled by that, and you want to have your dream house, and your budget is limited. But as we say “what is cheap at the end is more expensive”. Construction activities per se are expensive, so the losses are big as well when problems arise.
YOU DIDN’T WANT TO PAY THE ARCHITECT TO BE PART OF THE BIDDING PROCESS, REMEMBER?
A smart client will prefer to use a more experienced contractor and pay more. But is that enough? Not even close.
The construction administration responsibilities include that:
· We lead a weekly project meeting and review the progress of construction.
· We confirm that the contractor is executing the project as per the design and specifications. I tell the client that we want to confirm that the contractor is building her project as per our construction documents, “which she paid all that money for us to prepare”.
· We are available to quickly resolve unexpected issues and unforeseen conditions, so construction progress is not delayed.
· We review the contractor’s payments, so we have more leverage during construction. This leverage allows us to protect the client’s interest and confirm that they are only paying for what is appropriate at that stage of the project.
· We review shop drawings and submittals. Again, to confirm that the client is getting what he/she is paying for.
· We assist with preparing and confirming the completion of the punch list.
· We are legally responsible for their health, safety and welfare and must confirm that all building and environmental codes are being observed.
· It saves us from liabilities.
Architects differ in the way they charge for Construction Administration, mostly and depending on greatly of the type of project, architects can charge between 8% to 12% of the construction. Some more established architects may charge more.
Now that you know, we hope that for your next project you include it in your budget. At the end we assure you it will save you time and money, but most importantly you will have the house you wanted and worked so hard to pay for it.
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