The Contract Administrator is there to protect the client.
It is common for a client to employ both the CA and the main contractor. The CA will often be the Architect who has worked with the client through the design and planning stage. Naturally being appointed by the client and having an existing relationship can create friction with the contractor. This leads to the common misconception that the CA’s natural obligation is to favour the client. However, a CA has a duty to act independently with integrity to administer the terms of the contract impartially. A dispute in relation to these behaviours could escalate into a claim of negligence, and if the CA is a member of a professional board this can have further professional implications and penalties. All in all this makes it a very fine line for the CA to tread. Ultimately the client and the contractor should appreciate that a good CA will do their utmost to protect each parties interest - as that’s the best way to protect their own!
A Contract Administrator is only necessary on large developments.
Not all building contracts list the requirement for a CA, but the value of their input should not be underestimated. Large-scale developments naturally carry greater risks and require processes to monitor and limit these, they will also employ other specialised services such as project managers, health and safety managers and cost consultants. But small-scale projects can also reap significant benefits from a CA's involvement. A CA will perform site inspections, keep records, issue instructions, process valuations, track costs and basically ensure the project is delivered in line with the contract. Having admin in order and a constant presence on site encourages both client and contractor to comply by their responsibilities and limits the risk of unreconcilable disputes.
The Contract Administrator has to be the Architect.
Simply put, No. The CA does however need competent knowledge, skill and experience to perform the role. They must be able to assess the construction against the contract particulars and satisfactory workmanship. Hence why the Architect is well placed as typically they will have designed the building, offering a comprehensive knowledge of the details and materials for each element. Unforeseen issues can arise during the construction phase and the Architect often provides solutions that keep the design coherent whilst having minimal cost and time implications. We are now finding that competent contractors welcome having this expertise and assistance during the construction phase.
Clients, check the validity of your CA:
Look at their completed projects
Request a client reference
Contractors, work collaboratively with the CA:
Have your own admin in order
Ask for help when needed
Consider employing a point of contact for the CA