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Category: Planning

Contract Administration

What is Contract administration?

Contract Administration is a term you may or may not be familiar with. Sometimes referred to as Project Management, although the roles might appear similar there are some differences (we will discuss this later in this article)

Within the fields of Architecture & Construction a successful Contract Administrator will assume overall control and responsibility for driving the project forward.

A Contract Administrator on a construction project will use their skill and expertise to deliver the best result to the client (to use a cliché) ON TIME & ON BUDGET!

On a residential project, say a kitchen extension, they will be involved from start to finish.

They will not only design the project but also take care of:

  • Critical Form Filling
  • Negotiating with Planners & Building standards
  • Prepare Construction drawings
  • Issue Tender Documents
  • Assist Client to Select a Contractor
  • Supervise Construction
  • Obtain Completion Certificate
  • Oversee Contractor payments

A Contract Administrators role wont officially begin until there is a contract in place.

It is possible for someone to design the project and someone else to act a Contract Administrator, however, it makes sense, for obvious reasons that the same person act as designer and Contract Administrator.

A good Contract Administrator will ask questions to detect assumptions and resolve conflicts, sometimes before they arise.

One of the greatest advantages of hiring a Contract Administrator is that it reduces your risk as the client, a risk that may threaten the success of the project and rob you of the joy and excitement that investing in a project should bring.

The role involves managing the contract between the employer (The Client) and building contractor. Although employed by the client, the Contract Administrator ensures that the contract is fair, So, the Builder carries out his duties as per the contract and the Client pays the builder on time!

How Does a Contract Administrator Reduce Risk?

Risk usually rises from uncertainty, Contract administration can significantly reduce uncertainty from a construction project by implementing tried and tested processes at each step, for example at the pre-construction stage a thoroughly prepared document will be produced that details every element and item of the project, this leaves nothing to chance, hence reducing the risk of being lured in by an unrealistically low quote/price only to be hit later on with a large bill for ‘Extras’ that were not on the drawings.

This happens every stage of the project, risk reduction is checked and measured throughout the lifetime of the building project.

Who Acts as Contract Administrator?

Although the role of Contract Administrator has traditionally been filled by the Architect there are several professional who can fill this role, such as:

  • Architect
  • Architectural Technologist
  • Building Surveyor
  • Quantity Surveyor
  • Structural Engineer

The role of the Contract Administrator will be determined by the type of contract used (There are many).

At Architects Atelier Ltd we are mainly involved in residential projects and use RIBA Domestic Project Agreement 2010 (2012 revision): Architect

See A sample contract here


Project Manager V Contract Administrator

There is sometimes confusion regarding these roles, so what is the difference between a Project Manager & Contract Administrator?

Project Manager

Well, the clue is kind of in the names, a project manager is more deeply involved, perhaps on a day to day basis, from the project inception through to completion. Often employed full time in this role.

Rarely is this a service that is required in residential building projects.

Contract Administration

A Contract Administrators role will officially begin when there is a contract in place, which may not necessarily be at the beginning of a ProJet, there may have been considerable design work done up to this point.

A Contract Administrator, as mentioned earlier can be someone different from the designer of the building project.

They will carry out site inspections at intervals required for the specific project (Normally weekly)

This service is particularly suited to residential building projects.

Why Should You use a Contract Administrator?

At Architects Atelier Ltd we spend many months working with you, developing your design and generally getting to know the finer points of your project inside out.

It makes sense to carry this over to the construction phase where we will be on hand to explain our design to the contractor’

We ultimately are working for our client’s satisfaction and want you to have the best experience possible during your building project, the chances are that you will only be doing this once and will be ploughing your hard-earned cash into this, so its critical that you make it as painless as possible and get it right.

We want to work with happy clients and don’t want you to have to fend for

Here is what we do:

  • We conduct Site Visits on a regular basis (normally weekly).
  • We confirm that the building contractor is carrying out work according to the design and
  • You want to avoid any unnecessary delays to the project, so we are on hand to iron out issues & conflicts that may arise and resole these quickly and effectively.
  • We Instruct interim payments to the contractor, so, therefore you only pay for the work that has been done to that
  • We liaise with Building Control throughout the construction
  • We assist you with preparing the snagging list and ensuring this work is carried that the Completion Certificate is issued.
  • We are responsible for health & safety (2015 CDM) regulations being
  • As professionals, it is our policy to be involved in the construction process of every project, namely to reduce risk, ensure our clients get the best experience and are protected as best as

The Cost of Contract Administration

The cost of Contract administration is very modest when compared to the cost of the construction, yet in some respects this element Is more important.

It can be the cost of not having a Contract Administrator that is greater. What do we mean?

Well, in our experience the cost emotionally and financially can be devastating, a price in £, s cannot be put on the emotional turmoil & stress you go through when things go badly wrong during a construction project, it can consume you.

The risk financially is much greater without a Contract administrator, for example there will be no list of works document that details every item and element of a project, there will be no experienced eye to ensure that the contractor is using the right materials, you will find that things run better with site supervision.

We want to tell you this, no to frighten you, but to make you aware of the risk of not having this and realising there is something that you can do about this.

In our experience, the cost of hiring us for this stage pays for itself in terms of the value, expertise and risk reduction by means of us to you not to mention the money you can save by having a very specific costing schedule and a contract.

Given that it’s your home and probably your single biggest asset, we have really started to emphasise the need for this service.

In Review

  • This means that we prepare full construction specification and costings for tender documents, these get issued to at least 3 contractors which I review with you before we select a suitable


  • Once construction is underway we provide site supervision (generally site visit once per week and phone calls, emails etc) by administering the contract between you and the


  • At the end of the works we obtain the completion certificate and ensure that any snagging is carried out to a satisfactory

You will be then free to enjoy your new space!

Further reading

Contract Administration Guidance Notes (see link below)

http://www.rics.org/Global/Downloads/Contract_administration_1st_edition_ PGguidance_2011.pdf

Ask the Expert 


If you have questions about Contract administration or need advice about your project, take advantage of our FREE 20 minute ‘Ask the Expert’ call, click here to book your call.

A Beginner’s Guide to Loft Conversions

Whether it’s to add a new master bedroom suite,  self-contained accommodation for guests or an au pair. Or to create a home-working environment, converting a loft into a habitable space has become a hugely popular way to add more room(s). This beginner’s guide should help you avoid common conversion pitfalls and make the most of your loft.

Find the space you need

While it’s sometimes possible to find the extra room you need within your home by reorganising what you already have. If you want to add a whole new room (or rooms), usually the most cost-effective way to do this is to convert a loft space.

Compared to an extension, which will typically involve expensive foundations and groundworks, a loft conversion is built onto a structure that is already in place, so it will usually be cheaper, quicker and easier to achieve.

Simply convert

Technically, a loft ‘conversion’ is where the space above bedroom ceilings and beneath a pitched roof is converted from a non-habitable, dusty, uninsulated space for storing suitcases into a habitable room (or rooms).

To do this, typically both the roof and floor will need additional structural strength, insulation will have to be added, some daylight will need to be allowed in (often with a roof window) and a new staircase will be required.

If your loft space has enough height (Take a measurement from the bottom of the ridge timber to the top of the ceiling joist; the useable part of the roof should be greater than 2.2m. Then this can really be a very simple building operation indeed and can add charming and effective new space to your home. NOTE: Building Regulations Currently has no minimum height for habitable rooms, AAL however do not recommend loft conversions where the final ceiling height is going to be the height of a door as it will feel loft and confined.

Convert and extend

A loft ‘extension’ is where the loft space is enlarged – most commonly with the addition of a dormer window.

Instead of a roof window, which slopes with the roof, a dormer window is an external construction that forms a vertical wall into which a window can be built with side ‘cheeks’ and a little roof of its own, as pictured here.

Dormers do not enlarge the floor area as such, but the effect of them is to create more internal height and volume, meaning that in areas that would otherwise be too low to stand up in, you can have much more usable space.

Go for more space inside

Choosing a flat-roofed dormer, as can be seen on the side of this house, will give you more headroom and volume inside.

Flat-roofed dormers also tend to be cheaper to construct and, as such, are more frequently used than pitched-roof dormers.

Be box clever

When a flat-roofed dormer is enlarged so that it forms much – or even the full width – of a house, it is called a ‘box-dormer’. These really maximise the potential space internally and are certainly the best way, in most instances, to get great upstairs space. Typically, for cost reasons, these will be built with fairly small windows and roof tiles hung on their vertical faces as an exterior wall finish. However, their appearance (and effectiveness) can be greatly enhanced by choosing full-height glazing, as seen here. Light will flood in and you’ll get great views, too.

Plan ahead for planning

Despite what you might have heard, if you are going to extend your roof you will need Planning Permission. However, there is a mechanism that will give the vast majority of houses automatic permission for a loft extension within certain limits – this is called ‘Permitted Development’.

Permitted Development allows roof extensions without the need for a planning application as long as (broadly*) they are not on the front pitch of your roof, do not exceed the highest point of your roof and stay within certain volume limits. However, the section on extending roofs does not apply in conservation areas and flats have no Permitted Development rights at all.

*The various rules can get quite complex and then there is supplementary guidance on interpretation of the rules and case law where interpretation has been tested. Accordingly, it is really important to get some informed professional advice to make sure that your plans stay within the various limitations. Please talk we us here at Architects Atelier Ltd if you need such advice.

Remember Building Regulations

Many people confuse the need for Planning Permission with the Building Regulations. These are completely separate requirements and each need to be satisfied. While planning concerns itself with the use and look of a building and its effect on its local environment, the Building Regulations are there to ensure that buildings are made to a suitable level of quality and are safe.

There are many little regulations that need to be adhered to, but the one that most frequently trips up homeowners is to do with fire escape. If you have an open-plan ground floor (as in this picture), that is generally fine when a house is only on ground and first floor. However, when adding second-floor accommodation (as with a loft conversion typically) there needs to be a ‘protected route’ for fire escape, which generally means a separated hallway. This can trip people up terribly and of all the regulations to flag, this is the most important.

Focus on the staircase

Invariably, the key to successful loft-conversion design is to really think through the optimum position and shape of your new staircase.

By definition, the stairs affect both the new floor and the floor below. Often the most efficient location is directly above the stairs below, but this is not necessarily the best position and often cannot be made to work.

First, think through where the stairs will arrive on the upper floor (they will need good headroom to comply with regulations, but you don’t want them to take the best space). Then figure out the most convenient position on the floor below for the foot of the new staircase. The art then is to join these two points up while staying within the regulations. Doing this elegantly and to allow good flow of light is where the real skill lies.

How Much will my Loft conversion Cost?

A basic ‘room in roof’ loft conversion is the cheapest and could start at around £15,000. This will usually involve:

  • the reinforcement of the floor
  • a couple of skylights
  • added insulation
  • a staircase to the loft
  • electrics, lighting and heating
  • fire safety measures to comply with Building Regulations such as fire doors and smoke alarms.

Dormer Loft Extension

The second option which does not require dramatic changes to the roof is to do the above and add dormer windows. This will increase the useable floorspace and can be used to add head height which gives you more options when it comes to placement of the stairs. This will cost upwards of £20,000. However the average dormer loft conversion with a double bedroom and en suite costs about £35,000–£55,000.

So, yes, a loft conversion or extension can transform your house by creating a beautiful bedroom or home-working space, while increasing the value of your home, too. If you need any advice email or Call us at Architects Atelier Ltd and request a free 10 minute Ask the Expert Call. We will go over your project and discuss planning routes and options and can arrange a suitable home meeting appointment.

Start 2018 with Planning that all important extension

Been thinking about that extension and been it putting off? Then this article is for you, Below, Barry Stott-Brookes from Architects Atelier Ltd, outlines the typical planning to completion process for a domestic extension project.

Now is the right time to start thinking about more space at home for Autumn 2018. Whether it’s increased living space that you need, improved amenities or an outbuilding for the kids – why not let AAL’s experienced design team help you through the process required, to achieve the space you need in time for Autumn.

Whatever you’re planning the AAL team can guide you through the processes required to realise your construction project.

At AAL, our award nominated design team have extensive experience in:

  • Creating beautiful spaces;
  • Optimising the design to balance your needs against your budget;
  • Guiding projects through the planning process;
  • Developing the design in coordination with our structural engineering team;
  • Advising on ‘best practise’ for neighbourly matters such as party wall agreements.

Of course, you’ll need a builder once the design is signed off – not to worry, working with us gives you access to AAL’s ‘little black book’ of the very best local trade contacts.

If you’re planning to have the space you need this year ready for use in Autumn 2018 the following timeline of a typical construction project demonstrates why NOW IS THE TIME to talk to us:

Now – Start the design work.

March  2018 – Submit to local authority for planning sign-off.

May 2018 – Receive Planning Consent.

June 2018 – Structural engineering design and builder appointment; start party wall processes.

August 2018 – Party Wall processes completed and start building works! Depending on the size of the project it might be a 12 to 20 week build programme, your builder can advise.

November 2018 – Works complete just in time for the school Christmas Holidays 2018!

Don’t move, improve!  Let team AAL help you with your project, contact us today for a no obligation discussion.

Please visit our resources page for a free project planning pack to assist you in your project :


or come and visit us at the Built it Live show in February 2018 at  Kent Event Centre, see Link for details:

Build It Live South East

Contact us on: 01322 837 810

Email: info@thearchitectsatelier.com

The Architectural Planning Process

Are you planning an extension to your house? Or, perhaps a loft conversion? If so, you’ll have considered an architect to help with ideas, fine-tune the design and help manage the build.
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Why Hire an Architect for Your Home Extension Project?

There are many benefits to hiring the expertise of an architect when planning your home extension, loft conversion or other large remodelling project.

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