Here's what you get when you hire your architect for construction phase services
Plans are done, the permit is issued, and construction is ready to begin.
What is the role of the architect during the construction phase?
1 - Advocacy and Support
Architects represent their clients' interests during construction to ensure that the construction matches the plans. Architects visit the construction site and update the owner appropriately. The architect helps maintain good relationships among the project team members and has an active role in the administrative aspects of the project.
The architect is the owner's trusted advisor during construction and helps the owner build the project the way they envision.
2 - Communication
Architects are professionally trained and broadly experienced in communicating effectively with contractors, making it easier for everyone involved. I have seen over and over again a problem comes up that could have either been headed off beforehand or solved in 10 minutes. But hours, days, or even months go by because the contractor and homeowner can't understand each other or can't find a solution that they are both satisfied with. This leads to animosity and resentment which cascades into other aspects of the project. Sometimes the contractor gets fired or quits, leaving the project partially finished.
One thing about a construction project--okay, two things--you want to keep everyone happy and you want to keep everything moving. That's what architects do!
3 - Contractor payments
Contractor payments should be directly tied to the work and should proceed as agreed upon in the construction contract. An architect will review the contractor's request for payment and ensure that it matches what was estimated and what has been constructed. The architect can ensure that you are getting the building you are paying for with the level of quality you expected.
As a building owner, your money is your leverage and if you give it up too soon you lose that leverage. Following the architect's payment application process ensures you won't give up that leverage, keeping you and your contractor on a level playing surface.
4 - Interpretation
Even with a highly detailed set of plans with a high amount of clarity like the ones I prepare, there will always be things that come up in a construction project. This is because the plans will need interpreting by all the workers and suppliers on the job, of which there are many, even on a small project. Contractors and suppliers will have questions and will ask those questions to the building owner if the architect isn't hired for the construction phase.
5 - Tools and Processes
Construction is a huge industry with many players that have different roles, perspectives, and interests. Owners invest a lot of money and have certain expectations for outcomes. Sometimes changes are made during construction. What could go wrong? The truth is, conflict is bound to occur. Not having processes in place to handle these rough edges causes confusion and may alter the balances among team members, potentially affecting their responsibilities and liability. The good news is that there are already established ways to either avoid or manage almost everything that arises during a construction project. Owners and contractors alike are best served with the proactive involvement an architect provides during construction.
You wouldn't attempt to install a light switch or paint a room without the proper tools. Don't try to build a construction project without all the right tools. Architects have both the framework and knowledge for completing projects as efficiently and painlessly as possible.
6 - Outcome
Contractors will propose substitutions with the intent to save you money but oftentimes the savings are never realized and you end up with an inferior product or something you didn't want in the first place. Architects and owners spend a lot of time and effort preparing plans for a building. They work hard to make sure the project will accomplish certain outcomes. Buildings last far longer than the time it takes to construct them and shortcuts are often regretted. Don't let the reasons you started this project get pushed aside for someone else's convenience.
It's like shooting a basketball or swinging a golf club, if you don't have follow through, you don't have a shot.
Do yourself a favor, save yourself some headaches, and keep the professional with the most knowledge of your project on the team during the construction phase. The value of doing so is often worth many times the perceived "savings".