The construction of your building is a powerful memory in your experience and it benefits from the support of collaboration with your design professional.

We enjoy the challenges of this stage, responding to progress on site, knowing how our clients develop confidence seeing all involved in the build, acting effectively on their behalf.

The Law: NZ Building Act 2004

‘You must have a written contract for any building work that costs more than $30,000, (including gst) and it’s recommended for smaller jobs, too. As well as the contract, the contractor must give you a disclosure statement and a standard checklist with information about the building process.’
Consumer Protection NZ

The term ‘Contract Administration and Observation’ has a legal context in reference to administering the conditions of a building contract. While communication is our commitment to an excellent building process, we do this with an understanding of the formal structure established for this role on site.

Officially, this is the stage in architectural service, for reviewing and monitoring the progress of the building project, ensuring that it is being built in accordance with the plans, specifications, and contractual requirements. However, in our small practice, our responsibility is more one of communication and supporting both contractor and client throughout the building contract.

Contract Administration means acting for the client, who is party to a building contract with a building contractor. Observation means attending to site queries and maintaining site meetings with both contractor and clients, throughout the construction period from Contract Start to Final Completion. It also relates to Contract Administration, as specific site concerns may result in detail changes, requiring the processing of a Variation Order or a Site Instruction, in accordance with the Contract. (We describe these contract terms later.)

The professional service stage of Contract Administration and Observation does not mean ‘project management’. Your Contractor runs the building contract in accordance with the consented construction documents, which are the working drawings and specifications we provide.

Do I need the professional architectural service of administration and observation?

In residential building work, legally, the builder must be able to construct the building, in accordance with an approved set of construction drawings and specifications, without further input from the design professional. The Building Consent compliant documents are designed to provide a building which is weathertight, durable and structurally sound over its life of 50 years.
Site inspections from the Building Consent office are mandatory, to check building work is in accordance with approved documents.

However, the construction stage is an extension of the early design process and as your design professional we maintain the spirit and intention of that design, within the collaborative work on site, giving you confidence and a sense of enjoyment through the challenges of construction.

The design role we have in the progress of your project, gives us an effective basis with which to make decisions on all the various queries that may arise. As the Owner you will see the benefits of our experience in collaborative decision-making, with your contractor, yourself and other consultants. Ultimately this saves time and money, which is satisfaction for all involved.

What does a typical building contract involve?

The below list provides an overview of typical contracts used available in Aotearoa NZ :

  • NZIA Standard Construction Contract SCC 2018:
    • when an architect is engaged to administer contract
  • NZIA National Building Contract NBC General 2018 and NBC Short Form 2016:
    • when an architect is not involved in contract administration
  • NZS 3910 2013 Conditions of Contract for Building and Civil Engineering
  • NZS 3902: 2004 Housing, Alterations and Small Building Contract
  • Master Builders and Certified Builders standard contracts
  • Construction and development companies’ own format construction contracts

The NZIA Building Contracts are excellent contracts, giving maximum support to the Client in an agreement with the Contractor. They comprise a clear and concise series of Contract Agreement Schedule pages, followed by a General Conditions section, which describe accurately what the Schedules mean. It is all very interesting and informative for you, the typical building Owner.

The Contract Agreement front page which includes the Contract Price and Tender correspondence, is supported by the following Schedules:

  • Specific Conditions of Contract: Parties contact details; Site Possession Date, Time for Completion; Defects Notification Period (after Practical Completion); Retentions monies structure (allowances to correct defects); Final Payment Claim; Appointment of Arbitrator (Disputes)
  • Special Conditions of contract: if any
  • Practical completion certificate
  • Defects Liability Certificate: issued typically at Final Payment Claim when all deferred work and defects have been completed and corrected.
  • Specific Conditions of Insurance
    • Confirmation of Contract Works Insurance (clarifies by Owner or Contractor)
    • Confirmation of Public Liability Insurance including vehicle, plant and machinery
  • Warranty Agreement: (all sub-contractors’ warranties are to be provided at Practical Completion, to apply for Code Compliance Certificate CCC at local building authority.)

The General Conditions expand descriptions, for example, on Payment processes and Times for Payment and set out conditions for assessing the cost of Variations to the Contract Price, for detail changes during construction on site that incur a cost. It also sets out the assessment of Monetary Allowances: Prime Cost sums and Provisional sums for work and materials that cannot be accurately determined at the Start of the contract.

Your design professional is an expert in administering Variation Orders or Site Instructions (changes which don’t incur extra cost), because we oversee the value of a change in detail or material, in regard to both budget and overall fit for purpose design outcome.

The Contract Administration and Observation stage commences on submission of your Construction Documents for Building Consent (excluding processing RFI’s, Requests for Further Information, from the Building Consent Officer)

This service can begin as support in selecting building contractors for competitive tender or negotiated tender, selecting your form of Contract and completion of the contract agreement, then administration of the contract through to Final Completion.

Observation of the contract provides on-site support, with meetings with the Owner and Contractor, as agreed.

Our practice provides this full or partial service on a non-obligatory basis, as required. We also recommend it.

Please get in touch to ask how we can help on this part of your building journey.

‘The construction of your building is a powerful memory in your experience and it benefits from the support of collaboration with your design professional.’