Construction administration is a useful technique for making projects run more smoothly. It requires the architect, who knows the building design best, to remain involved in the project even after they have finished their drawings.
However, construction administration is often seen as a non-essential cost, and developers are sometimes inclined to cut it. Architects are expensive after all, so retaining them for several months after their formal work is often seen as unnecessary. All the same, there are important reasons to keep them involved.
Let’s first look at what construction administration actually is, then look at three of the biggest benefits of keeping your architect involved. The good news is that, with modern building technology, you can get all the benefits of construction administration but at a lower cost.
What is construction administration?
Construction administration is about keeping the original designer involved throughout the building process. The architect will oversee project progress, and remains on hand to provide clarification about the plans. They can then provide quick answers about their drawings, advise on materials or offer insights into the methods that would be most appropriate to use.
Construction administration usually takes the form of monthly or fortnightly calls and site visits where the architect checks up on progress and answers any questions the contractor/client has.
Construction Management vs Construction Administration
With similar terms and job titles for different roles in construction, it’s important to understand the difference between a construction manager and a construction administrator.
Construction managers are on-site every day. They implement the project schedule and oversee budgets and deadlines. They are responsible for bringing in a project on time and on budget. That being said, they’re also responsible for day-to-day quality control measures and making sure that all workers on-site build from the same documents.
Meanwhile, construction administrators aren’t around every day. They leave the nitty-gritty details to the construction site manager and trust them to flag anything that has a serious impact on the plan. However, with an engaged construction administrator on board, it’s easier for the construction manager to deliver a high-quality project. The construction administrator is the go-to person to ask about change orders, switching materials due to supply chain issues or compliance with building codes.
At the end of the project, the construction administrator will be able to confirm that the contractor has delivered the project to the required standard. With a qualified architect keeping track of all approved changes, it will also be easier to provide as-built documentation.
Do you really need construction administration?
Now that we know the answer to the question “what does a construction administrator do?”, you can decide whether you need one for your project.
In general, the larger and more complicated the project, the more benefits you’ll get from investing in construction administration. If you’re renovating a smaller building or building one unique unit for a client, then a construction manager might be able to handle the construction site administration themselves.
However, bear in mind that the designer will have spent up to a year – or even longer – thinking about the project and have an in-depth knowledge of the client’s vision. By keeping the architect close to the project, you get their insights and understand the logic behind certain design decisions. This will help you to avoid mistakes and major defects. It will also make it easier to compile the handover paperwork at the end of your project.
3 reasons administration is important
Construction administration brings several benefits. The following three points summarise its key advantages.
1. Benefit from the architect’s unique knowledge
During the building process, it is not uncommon for the owner or contractor to find opportunities to improve or extend the design in a way that was not apparent during the drawing phase. Who better to oversee this change in the process than the architect behind the original plans?
By keeping the architect on board throughout the project, making changes and solving problems becomes easier. They can advise on the best way to make changes or explain why certain changes shouldn’t be implemented.
2. Better decision-making
When managing construction projects, there are many unknown variables that can affect the outcome of a project. That’s why the ability to make quick decisions is a huge advantage. Projects where the contractor, owner and the architect share a close working relationship mean they can come to decisions faster. The architect’s perspective will be influential in these decisions, so having them easily available can be very helpful.
3. Give the client peace of mind
The architect normally has the closest relationship with the client. They will often spend several months working closely with them on their ideas, translating their vision into drawings. There is an emotional aspect here – the client has come to depend on the architect for advice and understanding. By keeping the architect involved in the process, the client will have more confidence in its progress, knowing that the architect truly understands their ambitions and will help the contractor to deliver them.
More construction management: Intro to site audit apps
Digital technology makes the process more efficient
While the benefits of construction administration are clear, clients remain understandably concerned about the potential costs involved:
- Architects may charge at an hourly rate
- Travel to building sites can be expensive and time-consuming
- It may not always be easy to get an answer about very specific design questions
But this is where digital tools like PlanRadar can help. PlanRadar provides you with a single place where all stakeholders (architect, client and contractor) can view documentation related to the project, review drawings, report problems and ask questions. This helps streamline the construction administration process:
PlanRadar lets the architect or project owner check in on project status at any time and see the most up to date information. The transparency and traceability of the workflows increase accountability and improves collaboration among all parties.
A centralized, cloud-based app streamlines communication. This means that you don’t have to bombard the construction administrator with emails or phone calls. Instead, messages about the project happen in a single place and are ‘attached’ to the plans themselves.
Find and share information quickly and easily
An app like PlanRadar brings all documentation in one place and lets you share information instantly. That also includes updated site plans, which you can immediately share with on-site teams via the Cloud.
Construction administration depends on the architect being able to see who did what and when. They will also need a ‘paper trail’ to understand any decisions taken. By using PlanRadar’s evidence collection features, it becomes clear how decisions were arrived at.
PlanRadar saves your designer from travelling to the project site every couple of weeks to get an understanding of progress. Using automatically generated reports, they can review progress remotely. Therefore, they’ll only need to travel when major issues arise.
PlanRadar’s digital handovers feature allows contractors to record defects and can be a vital tool when compiling handover documentation.
Keep learning: How to carry out a construction site audit
Ready to change how you do construction administration?
Construction administration brings so many benefits to the project, to the contractor and to the client. And, while it was traditionally seen as a costly ‘nice to have’, tools like PlanRadar make it much easier to keep the architect in the loop without requiring endless site visits and time-consuming meetings. From a single app, the designer can view changes, answer questions and solve issues in moments. That brings you all the benefits of construction administration but at a much lower cost.
This post was originally published on 23rd April 2018 and was last updated on 1st July 2022.