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Important Video

Taking action on what you learn in this video will be the most valuable thing you can do..

Builder/Project Manager Vs Architect/Contract Administrator

The Case

When I discuss projects with clients there is often a bewilderment over the difference in roles of an Architect as a Contract Administrator and a Builder as a Project Manager. When I sometimes say to a client that I will, as the Architect & Contract Administrator, oversee the work, make inspections and report my findings back to the Employer/Client, I often get a response along the lines of 'oh yes, you will Project Manage it for us'. This of course, whilst an easy mistake to make, is not true.


As an analogy, I liken the building project to that of creating and playing a piece of music through an orchestra with all its separate constituent parts, percussion (ground workers), woodwind (carpenters), brass (plumbers) & strings (electricians) etc. The composer of the music is like the Architect/Contract Administrator. They create the music from there understanding and experience of putting together notes (building materials), scales (structures) & a tempo (programme), organised in particular way on the stave (scaffolding) for a specifically designed piece of music written onto paper (the specification) for the conductor (Project Manager) to follow. Then, the music is played by the orchestra (Main Contractor) with a conductor (Project Manager) strategically organising the differing sections with a cue gestured from his baton (Instruction) of when to start and to stop playing. This is what the Project Manager does in organising there programme of work and the differing sub-contractors to carry-out each and every particular task.


So long as each party akin to the building contract, Architect, Builder & Client, is educated on the roles that they are fulfilling, in our experience, projects run well and economically without duties overlapping. Of course there is always collaboration between parties, for instance, the Architect may come up with a suggestive programme of works for the client, and the builder will do his own for the project at tender stage. Both of these would then be discussed & a realistic timescale agreed at the pre-contract meeting, suitable to meet with all parties expectations & requirements. Another example, to highlight the importance of understanding each parties role, would be to discuss the Project Managers strategy role. More often than not, a building site is too small to store materials on, and so, the Project Manager will have a good understanding of his lead in times for each material, from point of placing an order to it being delivered to site. Through careful planning, using their programme of works, the Project Manager will only have materials stored on site for a limited time. This reduces both wasting limited space on site & too much of the Builders/Contractors money being tied up in materials stored on site, that they may not get paid for until they are used within the build. Can you imagine if the Architect/Contract Administrator where to start ordering materials for the Builder/Contractor? It is with this collaborative, appreciation & understanding of each parties duties that sees a project finish successfully, on time.