What Is Construction Administration? (With Administrator Job Duties)
Updated 3 June 2023
Construction administration is the management of construction operations and projects. A construction administrator monitors contracts, keeps paperwork up-to-date and handles project schedules. If you have strong business aptitude, are a skilled organiser with excellent communication ability, you might consider a career as an administrator in a construction environment. In this article, we answer the question, 'What is construction administration?', discuss the tasks and skills of a construction administrator, provide steps to become one, explore their average salary, discuss their work environment and list related construction jobs.
What is construction administration?
Understanding ‘What is construction administration?’ and the duties involved is important when considering entering the field. Construction administration involves administrative tasks during the construction phase of a building project. A construction administrator keeps the project on track and ensures the team meets deadlines. The administrator sorts construction documents to check that all work done meets the client's standards. Construction admin duties vary with each project or the size of the company and number of people part of the project team.
Basic construction administrator tasks
Administrators liaise between the construction company and the client. Their work helps the client get a finished product that meets the required standards. Construction administrators also represent the construction company when working with contractors. Here's a breakdown of construction administration functions:
Compiling construction submissions
Administrators gather information and put together submission packages for the project manager. These include drawings, material samples and construction documents. Many submissions for each construction discipline provide information of what best fits the budget and project scope.
Handling change orders
When the client calls for alterations to the original plans that affect the budget, the construction administrator creates a document known as a 'change order'. The administrator ensures the changes suit the client's needs. They also verify that the budget change is acceptable to all the parties involved, before handing over the change order for approval.
Enforcing building codes
A construction project has to meet certain building code requirements before being approved. The construction administrator ensures the project meets the building requirements. Some of these codes include minimum efficiency requirements for HVAC systems, environmental codes for buildings and standards for plumbing systems.
Sourcing new suppliers
A common occurrence in the building industry is for building materials to get discontinued part-way through a project or the ordered materials aren't up to standard. Construction administrators assist clients in finding replacement products. They use their industry knowledge to ensure that the new materials meet the project budget and standards.
The administrator on a construction site keeps up-to-date records of all sub-contractors, including contact people and details. They use that information to request proposals and bids. The construction administrator keeps files with contracts, pre-qualification forms, insurance documentation and tax information for each sub-contractor.
Facilitating communication between client, project team and sub-contractors
As the common reference person, an administrator keeps communication channels open between all involved in the project. To do this, they create and maintain project contact lists, email and instant messaging groups. They coordinate project leader meetings when needed. Apart from notifying those involved in the meeting, they organise practical details, such as booking boardrooms or conference rooms and preparing agendas, minutes and any other paperwork.
Handling all project paperwork
A construction administrator creates, organises and maintains a project file for each job. They put together bid packages, including requests for proposals, work and other construction documents. It's their job to get permits, utility connections and access agreements. The project team receives practical details from the administrator, such as how to access the building site, where to park, site trailer allocation and where skips are located.
Tracking project finances
Keeping track of the project budget and spending is an important part of an administrator's job. They work closely with the project manager to review the contractor and project draws. Part of the construction admin role is to troubleshoot potential budget issues before they escalate. At the close of a project, they put together project closeout packages, including warranties, equipment information, contractor contracts and maintenance agreements.
Construction administrator abilities and skills
Construction is often a fast-paced environment. There are usually teams of people from different companies working together onsite. Coordinating the unique elements of a construction job requires quick thinking, decision making and troubleshooting abilities. Below are some abilities and skills required for construction administration jobs:
Planning: The ability to schedule and prioritise individual contributions to meet deadlines is essential for a construction administrator. As a construction site may have many contractors working on different things simultaneously, the administrator coordinates them all.
Excellent written and verbal communication: Writing monthly progress reports, proposals and other project documentation requires good writing ability. Being able to identify and understand the needs of project team members and facilitating collaborative problem-solving is useful for an administrator.
Attention to detail: Construction administration involves ensuring the accuracy of all project documentation and paying careful attention to law and regulation compliance. Non-compliance may slow the project down due to seeking out compliance before continuing.
Professionalism: For an administrator on a construction site, the ability to maintain a professional demeanour, stay positive under the pressure of deadlines and challenges is valuable, as construction involves many quick decisions.
Maths: Analytical and numerical skills are essential for estimating, budgeting and navigating scope changes in the project.
How to become a construction administrator
Becoming a construction administrator requires a combination of further study and experience. Some employers may accept a candidate with a high school diploma or associate's degree, as long as the construction administrator has sufficient field experience. Many employers require a higher level of education. A background in construction is useful, as it gives the construction administrator keen insight into what's happening on the building site. Here are the steps to becoming a construction administrator:
1. Earn a bachelor's degree
An undergraduate degree in construction management is a good qualification for this role. Students learn construction project logistics, such as overseeing labour and cost estimation. Computer-aided design (CAD) software programs may also be part of the course. Other construction management coursework may cover:
2. Gain work experience
Look for an internship offered through your degree program or other work opportunities that help you gain hands-on experience. Construction experience can also benefit you as a construction administrator. Aspiring construction administrators have experience in project management, cost estimates, contracts and scheduling. General administration experience is also helpful.
Below are some areas of experience to aim for:
Administration: Clerical work or construction document management can be useful in this role. Managing the substantial amount of paperwork generated by a construction project requires the ability to organise documents well.
Management: Candidates with both project and construction management experience may be well-suited to a career in the administration of construction projects, as they work closely with contractors, builders and senior management.
Safety protocols: A working knowledge of safety protocols on a building site is a plus to help prevent injuries.
Zoning and permits: A candidate with an understanding of local zoning and permit issues may have an advantage over other candidates, as building according to zoning restrictions prevents unnecessary stalling of the building process.
Construction documents: Knowing architectural drawings, submittals, specifications and other construction documents can help a candidate gain a deeper understanding of the technical terminology and processes taking place on a building site.
3. Get professional accreditation
Accreditation is not mandatory for construction administration. You can do research on which accreditation is likely to be most relevant for your future employer to enhance your application. Some accreditation organisations may require you to have a year of work experience or more to complete or qualify for an examination.
Here are some professional building organisations you can consider joining:
What does a construction administrator earn?
The average annual salary for a construction administrator is $61,188 per year. Remuneration varies depending on the area and the level of experience and qualification. Top-level construction administrators in higher paying cities can earn up to $72,755 per year.
Work environment of a construction administrator
Construction administrators may work in an office or on a building site. They may have an on-site field office, which allows them to be close to the site and monitor everything that happens. Alternatively, they might work from within the company offices and make regular trips to the building site.
Other jobs related to construction
If you want to work in construction, there are many options to explore. Design-related fields may suit those who prefer working in an office environment, while hands-on construction jobs mean working on site. Here are a few construction careers that might interest you:
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location. Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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