Welcome back to our comprehensive guide on Contract Administration. In our previous article, we delved into the fundamental concepts of the Contract Administrator’s (CA) role and its official appointment. You can revisit that article here for a quick refresher.

In this follow-up piece, we will dive deeper into the CA’s duties and responsibilities just before and right after the initiation of construction works on the site. This article will be particularly useful for those working with JCT Lump Sum contracts, including the JCT Standard Building Contract (SBC). Stay with us as we navigate through the crucial role of a CA during the early stages of a construction project.


Contract Administrator’s role at the start of a project

The Contract Administrator (CA) plays a vital role at the start of a project. The CA needs to understand the project’s specific parameters and set clear goals and guidelines for smooth progress. They are also responsible for meeting the legal requirements for the transfer of site possession to the contractor. If these tasks are carried out efficiently, the CA can ensure a successful construction project under JCT Lump Sum contracts, like the JCT Standard Building Contract (SBC).


Before Construction Begins

Before construction begins, a critical pre-construction phase demands close attention from the Contract Administrator (CA). The CA’s primary duty is to ensure that all the preparations are in sync with the contract terms. This task involves several crucial steps every CA must consider.


Reviewing the Contract Documents

At the project’s outset, the Contract Administrator’s (CA) primary task is comprehensively reviewing the contract documents. This includes examining the contract conditions, scrutinising the specifications, and understanding the project drawings. This foundational step allows the CA to familiarise themselves with the project’s various aspects while noting key dates and time limits to prevent oversights.

Additionally, the CA needs to evaluate the project’s risk strategy rigorously. This involves reviewing the contract’s risk clauses to assess and manage inherent project risks. Ensuring the risk strategy is robust and suitable is crucial, as the initial review of contract documents sets the stage for all subsequent administrative tasks.


Liaising with the Professional Team

In addition to their other roles, the Contract Administrator (CA) is responsible for effective communication with the client’s professional team. This entails confirming designer appointments that align with the CA’s functions and specifying clear roles that aid in seamless contract administration. The CA must also scrutinise obligations under the Construction Design and Management Regulations to guarantee compliance with all regulatory standards.

Setting transparent communication protocols is another vital aspect. This defines the frequency of design and project team meetings and cultivates a mutual understanding of the project’s goals and expectations. By promoting open and streamlined communication, the CA facilitates a unified team committed to the project’s successful completion.


Advising the Employer

The Contract Administrator (CA) is responsible for ensuring the employer is well-informed about their contractual obligations. The CA must ensure the employer understands their specific goals and objectives to keep the project on track.

Additionally, the CA advises the employer to secure insurance and seek expert advice to mitigate potential risks. Establishing an agreed-upon reporting format and frequency with the employer is also key, enabling consistent updates on project developments and emerging issues. This cooperative strategy lays the groundwork for efficient and well-organised project execution.


Liaison with the Contractor

The Contract Administrator (CA) must establish clear communication lines with the contractor, identifying primary contacts for efficient information flow. At this early stage, the CA should also review the construction timetable to ensure it’s realistic and achievable.

Additionally, the CA should agree on a schedule for releasing key project information. Setting procedures for instructions and variations not only makes the process transparent but also helps avoid potential conflicts. Effective communication with the contractor is essential for a successful working relationship.


Insurance, Bonds and Legal Requirements

At the start of a construction project, the Contract Administrator (CA) has a key role in handling insurance, bonds, and legal requirements to protect all parties involved. These elements are vital for financial security, regulatory compliance, and risk mitigation.

Firstly, the CA needs to confirm all necessary insurance policies are in place. Tasks include:

  • Review insurance policy details, such as named parties, amounts, exclusions, and coverage.
  • Ensuring these details align with the contract terms.
  • Noting renewal dates to avoid lapses in coverage.

Performance bonds and guarantees are also the CA’s responsibility. They should:

  • Check if the contractor has provided the needed bonds or guarantees.
  • Validate their legitimacy and match them with contract stipulations.

Legal requirements require close attention from the CA and cover areas such as:

  • Confirming contractor notifications under the New Roads and Street Works Act for works affecting public highways.
  • Checking the status of planning conditions and building regulation approvals.
  • Ensuring party wall agreements are in order.
  • Verifying necessary rights of access/licenses for the site.
  • Confirming any operational restrictions like working hours or deliveries.
  • Checking environmental or ecological compliance.
  • Addressing archaeology requirements for sites with potential significance.

Ensuring all these elements are in place and correctly managed is crucial to the CA’s initial responsibilities. This makes the project legally compliant and provides a strong foundation to manage any risks or challenges that may arise during construction.


Establishing Internal Procedures

At the project’s start, the Contract Administrator (CA) must set up internal procedures for smooth operation. This includes establishing a reliable document management and filing system where all contractual paperwork, like notices and instructions, is organised and easily accessible. The system’s success relies on the team’s commitment to following the agreed-upon process.

Additionally, the CA must inform all stakeholders about the procedure for issuing notices and instructions, including action timescales under the contract. Preparing forms, templates, and logs in advance helps streamline communication. These measures contribute to an organised setting, facilitating efficient contract administration and minimising the risk of misunderstandings and disputes.


Start of Construction

As construction gets underway, the Contract Administrator (CA)’s role takes on greater significance, covering aspects from initial site set-up to financial procedures. Tasks range from health and safety compliance and site inspections to overseeing financial timelines and quality assessments. The CA’s proactive involvement at this early stage lays the groundwork for the entire construction phase; let’s look at these responsibilities.


Initial Site Set-up

The Contract Administrator (CA) is also responsible for the initial site set-up. This involves attending site inductions to grasp the project thoroughly and comply with health and safety protocols. Inspecting welfare facilities and reviewing the contractor’s site arrangements which are crucial for ensuring a safe and efficient work environment. This early preparation is key for smooth project implementation, highlighting the need for detailed planning and coordination from the outset.


Early Inspections

As construction begins, the Contract Administrator (CA) must conduct initial inspections to confirm the project aligns with the agreed plans. This includes verifying the setting out to ensure structures are correctly located according to the construction plans. Quality assessments of early works are also essential to confirm compliance with contractual standards.

Detailed inspection notes should be recorded, and instructions issued quickly to address any deviations or issues immediately, minimising potential delays or extra costs. This early oversight is vital, setting a performance standard for the rest of the project.


Early Meetings

In the project’s early stages, setting up regular project team meetings is essential for effective communication. These meetings allow the Contract Administrator (CA) to share information, address issues, and align everyone on project progress. Agreement on the frequency and format of these meetings should be established to maximise their effectiveness.

Additionally, the CA begins to prepare monthly reports for the employer at this time. Accurate and timely reporting keeps the employer updated on project status, potential issues, and progress towards objectives. This reporting is key to the CA’s role, ensuring transparency and keeping all parties informed.


Financial Procedures

The Contract Administrator (CA) must establish payment certification dates and set a schedule for issuing these certificates. This crucial task keeps construction work progressing smoothly by avoiding financial delays. In addition, the CA should review the valuation process, which involves overseeing the methods for estimating the cost of completed work. This ensures that all payments are accurate and fair, reducing the likelihood of misunderstandings and disputes and promoting efficient project progression.



In conclusion, the Contract Administrator’s role at the start of a project is crucial and varied, requiring a deep understanding of the project, careful preparation, and strong collaboration with all stakeholders. Success, especially under JCT Lump Sum contracts, hinges on the CA’s diligence in fulfilling legal obligations, liaising with the professional team, employer, and contractor, and setting up effective internal systems. The CA’s organisational and communication skills set the stage for how the project unfolds. These responsibilities continue throughout the contract administration, a topic to be discussed in future articles. Thus, maintaining professionalism and dedication is essential for the CA to ensure a smooth project from beginning to end.

In upcoming articles, we will delve into the Contract Administrator’s responsibilities and processes during and after the construction phase to provide a comprehensive view of the role throughout the project lifecycle.