Connecting the Design and Construction Process
While a firm’s Construction Administrator plays many roles in project construction and completion, the most important role is protecting the client’s interest
Every engineering and architectural consulting firm has its own philosophy regarding the construction administration process. Whether your designers are responsible directly or the firm employs individuals to oversee the process is irrelevant. The fact remains that every project requires administration to see it through to a successful end.
The Construction Administrator (CA) takes the project from bid day to final completion and close-out. The CA has a variety of responsibilities ranging from submittal review, addressing contractor questions, providing supplemental design documents, negotiating change orders, resolving disputes, approving large sums of money and so on. The most important role is protecting the owner/client’s interest. This can be difficult in a construction climate that has become very competitive and where profit margins are tight and contingencies are no longer as comfortable as they may have once been.
One protects the owner and client by protecting the documents. Doing so requires a keen understanding of each discipline that is represented on the design drawings, knowing the specifications, and understanding the process. Since trust and relationships are built over an extended period of time, there is the element of fair play to all of the stakeholders as well.
The construction administrator’s role is critical to bridging the client with the contractor and collectively producing the project that the owner has envisioned. Underestimating or discounting the importance of the CA process will at the very least leave the owner undeserved which certainly would be a mistake.
Your CA representative is often the owner’s last real tangible connection to your firm. Since the construction process can be painful and wearisome particularly when unexpected issues arise, the CA representative can easily bridge gaps or fracture relationships. It must be the former and not the latter. The connection between good design and a successful project often rests on the construction team’s relationships and dynamic. The CA process must therefore provide a fluid, timely, and fair platform to ensure success for the owner and the potential for repeat business.