How Construction Administration Can Improve Your Project’s Efficiency

From planning to completion, plenty of factors can contribute to a construction project’s efficiency. Quality design and thorough execution are critical to a project’s success, but how does one ensure a smooth interface between the two? And why is it necessary?

Construction budgets and schedules are based on approved plans and specifications. Efficient projects follow their plans with few detours, as most changes during construction cause delays and cost overruns. To keep your project on track with its plans, you must ensure that:

  • the contractor correctly interprets the design requirements
  • the design team reviews and approves any deviations
  • mistakes are caught and corrected as early as possible

Construction administration is a function through which a project’s engineer or architect of record monitors construction activities and ensures adherence to the approved plans. An administrator’s job consists of several responsibilities, such as Structural Observations, Request for Information management, Substitution Request review, and Submittals review.

Structural Observations

Construction errors can happen for many reasons. When they do, the first instinct may be to point fingers at the responsible party. Justified as such a reaction may be, it does little to keep your project on track. The best way to mitigate losses stemming from mistakes is to notice them quickly and make prompt corrections.

Structural Observations can offer you some peace of mind that construction is proceeding per your design intent. During the observation, an engineer will assess the project’s structure for general conformance with approved plans, report errors, and recommend corrective action. Structural Observations happen independently of city inspections, but may be mandatory depending on the project and the jurisdiction.

Whether your project requires Structural Observations or you want to stay up-to-date on the structural work, our licensed engineers can help. Call us at (888) 512-3152 or email us at to find out more.

Requests For Information (RFI) Management

The General Contractor (GC) must interpret the drawings the way your design team intended. During bidding, this will ensure an accurate quote upon which you can base your budget. Once construction starts, correctly interpreting the design will help your project stay on budget, avoid delays, and ensure that your vision materializes.

The RFI procedure serves several purposes before and during construction. First, it allows contractors to seek clarification from the design team, thus helping keep all parties are on the same page. Depending on the contract, RFIs may also be used as a mechanism to request substitutions, recommend a design change, and address constructability issues.

If unexpected conditions arise during construction, you want the decision-making process to be quick and effective. You also want to stay in control. Should your contractor encounter unexpected conditions, RFIs give them a chance to seek direction on how to proceed. A formal change order may arise to deal with the unforeseen event, but it all starts with the contractor’s RFI and your design team’s quick, informed response to the situation.

Substitution Request Review

Contractors are building experts, and often see a safer, better suited, or more economical means of achieving the design intent than what’s in the approved plans. To maximize your project’s efficiency, the contractor and their subcontractors must be allowed to use Substitution Requests to ask for or recommend changes during construction.

To make sure that substitution requests enhance your project’s efficiency without compromising safety or time, your contract should outline substitution procedures. Depending on your project, and your preference, RFIs can serve as a means of requesting substitutions. That said, the procedure should not be used to push through change orders – changes to the budget, schedule, or scope of the project. The design team should weigh each request with care, before deciding whether or not to allow the substitution.

Submittal Review

Submittals are a contractor’s, subcontractor’s, or manufacturer’s means of confirming their adherence to the project’s approved plans and design requirements. Submittals may include shop drawings, specifications, technical data, or product samples for various materials and components, which must be approved by the general contractor and the Engineer or Architect of Record before installation. Submittal reviews give your design team a chance to verify that your project is being built with the right parts, thus keeping your project safe, error-free, and on budget.

The architect, engineer, contractor, and the owner, or the owner’s representative, should discuss the submittals procedure before construction starts. All parties should agree on the following items and include them in the contract:

  • items requiring a construction submittal
  • deadlines for submittal delivery
  • method of submittal delivery
  • submittal review process
  • deadlines for review
  • communications and document control

Once construction is underway, the procedure will roughly follow these steps:

  • 1. Subcontractor/contractor prepares the submittal
  • 2. General Contractor reviews the submittal
  • 3. Architect / Engineer of Record reviews the submittal
  • 4. If rejected by the design professional, the preparer must revise the submittal according to the feedback given and resubmit
  • 5. If approved, work involving the item in question may proceed

If you want your project to stay on track and avoid expensive change orders or delays, make sure to plan your submittals procedures before shovels hit the dirt.

Our team offers submittal reviews as part of the Construction Administration services. We will help you establish the process and ensure that submittals involving structural components are properly verified. We will also assist you with RFI management, Substitution Request reviews, and Structural Observations. Call us at (888) 512-3152 or email us at to find out more.

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