So what is a contract administrator and why would I need one?
Contract administrator. Not the most exciting title and probably one most people have never heard of and have little idea what one does.
But for a self-builder this role is one of the most important for your project and can mean the difference between a build that comes in on time and on budget and one where costs spiral, problems and disputes arise and deadlines slip.
For many people, going ahead with their bespoke home is the culmination of a long-held dream. It may have been years in the planning and a significant financial investment. So why risk something so important? Building your unique home is complex and challenging and can easily go wrong.
So what does a contract administrator do and how do you find one? Put simply, the CA monitors the proper performance of the contract for your build on behalf of you, the client. The CA ensures the fixed price contract is being adhered to; resolve any disputes that might arise and they keep a close eye on the budget. At TCOH, we provide the impartial CA role as part of our turnkey offer to our clients.
‘Oh I see, a project manager for my build.’
Actually, no. A CA doesn’t project manage. The CA doesn’t arrange supplies or engage contractors. The CA’s role is to act on behalf of the client monitoring the contract and ensuring the build is progressing in accordance with it.
‘I don’t need a CA, I can do that role for myself. What can a contract administrator do that I can’t?’
Having a professional, experienced CA minimises the significant risks of something going wrong that self-builders, particularly those doing a one-off scheme, face. How many times have you watched a TV programme such as Grand Designs and seen a self-build spiral out of control blowing the budget and going way over deadline? It’s easy for things to go wrong even for the most hands-on clients. Your contract administrator is a professional with the skills, expertise and experience to minimise those risks for you, the client.
The key, core element of the CA’s role is to ensure the contract is giving you, the client, best value for money. We do this by keeping the programme on track and closely monitoring the costs. This means you, the client, can be confident in paying the contractor’s bills as we will have checked everything before issuing a payment certificate confirming it is valid and in line with the contract.
It all sounds obvious but clients can get into difficulties through no fault of their own, often with significant financial implications.
TCOH’s Andy Parker: “This is an extreme example, but it shows what can happen if you don’t have a competent contract administrator on your project. A self-builder we know of paid £100,000 to an off-site sub-contractor to manufacture the panelised wall system. The sub-contractor went in to administration shortly afterwards. A contract administrator would not have allowed the client to become financially exposed in this way.
“In another example a contract administrator received a monthly valuation from the builder for the construction of the roof on a house. It was apparent from a site visit that the roof was no more than 20% complete. Whilst the builder maintained that it would shortly be finished and therefore his claim valid, the CA determined that only 20% of the value would be paid on the current valuation.”
Changes to the design, specification or materials can impact on the cost of a project and can be an area of contention between main contractors and clients. The CA plays a key role in ensuring any variations are properly priced and agreed by both parties before issuing variation orders.
When the build is finished, the CA handles any snagging issues with the builder and the final bill is paid only when the scheme is signed off. So having a contract administrator on your project gives you peace of mind and the confidence of knowing that your beautiful new, bespoke home has the greatest possibility of being built on time and on budget. That’s worth having.
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