No matter how large or small, every residential building project is different and Archicentre Australia says this means it is essential to have an effective written agreement such as an all-encompassing building contract in place to guarantee that you get what you should in your new home, renovation or any home maintenance project.

The national architect’s advisory service says as well as having the right contract in place, it also needs to be administered and communicated effectively.

Archicentre Australia director Peter Georgiev says an architect administered building contract provides peace of mind in regard to both and takes away unnecessary stress in what is one of life’s most important investments.

“A good building contract doesn’t just cover the basics,” he says. “It’s essential – and we mean essential – to have a written contract in place as an adjunct to working drawings, specifications and trade notes for any building work. Simple things such as what’s being done, when it’s supposed to be done and who’s paying what to who need to be stated.

“Standard building industry contracts include a variety of statutory-based consumer protection provisions such as deposit limits, clarification of insurance obligations and practitioner registration requirements. They also address payment terms, time extension procedures and liquidated damages in the event of late completion.”

Peter Georgiev says architect administered standard contracts do all of that but also include the architect as an assessor and certifier.

“This takes the double personality role of builder-based contracts out of the picture – as these contracts require the builder to be both the builder and building certifier.

“A bad building contract won’t properly cover any of these things and might even be worded to your disadvantage. The challenge is to be able to tell a good contract from a bad one.”

signed agreements

He says that because architects are traditional project managers, their tertiary qualifications empower them to deal efficiently with all matters relating to design, client liaison, co-ordination of consultants, construction and building contracts.

“There is no way that individuals going down the residential construction path can be expected to understand all components of the process and deal with all of the complexities or the issues that almost always arise.

“The most effective way to do this is to seek the advice of an independent, community-based architect.”

Peter Georgiev says the building project delivery techniques currently in vogue not only take the individuality out of residential construction, they also place more emphasis on thorough and effective contracts.

These techniques are encompassed by terms such as ‘off the plan’, ‘design & construct’ and its spin-off ‘public/private partnerships’, ‘fast track’ and ‘construction management’.

“The alternative is the time-honoured approach – employ an architect and seek a methodical process that results in a tendered project and an architect-administered building contract.

This translates to ‘cheap and nasty’ versus ‘safe and reliable’,” he adds.

“Perceived cost advantages of the ‘take it off your hands’ approach are quickly extinguished when embedded defects and compromised construction techniques become a reality for consumers.  These are often apparent during construction – leaving the consumer effectively powerless to make changes without incurring unrealistically priced variation costs. This contrasts with the traditional approach of “front end loading” all details in a competently architect prepared set of working drawings and specifications”.

This media release has been written and distributed by:

Archicentre Australia

Peter Georgiev, Director

Level 1, 9 Strathalbyn Street,

Kew East, VICTORIA, 3102

Phone: 1300 13 45 13 | 03 9859 9950