What Do Architects Do? An Architect’s Role in Construction

The Architects role in a construction project

the architects role in a construction project

Both the work of an Architect and the Construction Manager of a building project play significant roles in the construction of offices, residential homes and apartments. However, these roles are fundamentally different, and often open to misinterpretation.

Let’s explain the two disciplines, and clarify the distinctions between an Architect and a construction manager or supervisor and the roles that they play in the construction of a project.

Who is involved in an Architectural construction project?

The construction of a building or other structure which has been designed by an Architect, requires collaboration by a number of professionals.

  • Architect – The Architect designs the building, prepares the construction drawings and then provides expert support throughout the construction process.
  • Construction Manager/Supervisor – The Construction Manager or Supervisor is responsible for the construction of the project and ensuring that the Architect’s drawings and details are accurately carried out. They supervise all on-site construction and can liaise with the Architect if further guidance is required.
  • Builders, Sub-Contractors and Tradespeople – This is who will complete the construction work. They work under the supervision of the construction manager and will rarely liaise directly with the Architect.


What does an Architect do?

An Architect is normally involved in a construction project all the way from initial concepting and design to completion and certification. Below, we’ve outlined the responsibilities of an Architect including the qualifications and studies required to practice as an Architect.


In order to practice, an Architect requires 5 years of University study followed by 2 years of work experience. In Australia, it can take a minimum of 7 years to become a fully qualified Architect.


  • Design. Architects design buildings and structures that are aesthetically pleasing as well as energy-efficient, environmentally friendly, functional and safe.
  • Objectives, budgeting and time management. An Architect works with clients to determine the parameters of a construction project. This includes construction objectives such as budget and time factors.
  • Building contract administration. Architects are administrators of the Building Contract, which is a legal contract between the Client and the Builder.
  • Site visits. Architects make periodic visits to the building site to monitor progress, interpret documents and review the overall progress of the work being carried out. However, an Architect is not responsible for the work of the Project Manager, or for the supervision of the builder and contractors.
  • Quality and compliance control. Architects, as administrators of the contract, have certain powers under the contract. If they determine that work has not been done properly or is of poor quality, they can withhold certifying payment for defective work until it is rectified. They can even recommend dismissal if a builder refuses to comply.

On-site time during construction

Occasional visits to check on progress and attend site meetings. Every one to two weeks.


What does a Building Supervisor or Construction Manager do?

A building supervisor or construction manager is responsible for overseeing the day to day running of the construction as well as planning, budgeting and managing the construction process. They will liaise with specialists like Architects and Engineers as well as hiring and directing builders, contractors and tradespeople.


A building supervisor’s qualifications can include an Engineering degree, Construction Management degree or diploma, and the nationally recognised Certificate IV in Building or Diploma in Building. These qualifications can take 3-4 years to gain.


  • Scheduling of construction. Supervisors and construction managers are responsible for the coordination and scheduling of the construction processes in the building of office complexes, residential homes and industrial structures. This can require being onsite for 8 or more hours per day.
  • Contractor hiring. Supervisors approve and hire specialty contractors and suppliers for certain operations, such as plumbing, electrical wiring and framing. This includes preparing tender documents, contract bidding, negotiation and subcontractor selection.
  • Contract and BCA compliance. A supervisor is responsible for all work carried out and ensuring that it complies with the contract documents as well as the Building Code of Australia.
  • Specialist liaison. Supervisors liaise with technical professionals such as Architects and engineers regarding design objectives, time and budgetary constraints.
  • Procurement. Supervisors organise the supply of materials, equipment and labour
  • Quality control and building inspections. and are responsible for quality control throughout the project and also organise building inspections with the relevant councils and Private Certifiers.

On-site time

Eight or more hours per day for the duration of the construction.

Architect vs Building Supervisor

architect vs building supervisor

The role of an Architect and that of a Supervisor are equally important to the client. The smooth operation and successful completion of a building project relies as much on an Architect’s creative skills and technical know-how as a Building Supervisor’s ability to coordinate, project manage and supervise the tradesmen.

Different as these roles are, professionalism and co-operation between both disciplines during each step of the construction process will undoubtedly achieve a positive outcome.

At Mark Lawler Architects, we work with some of the most experienced and efficient Building Supervisors in the industry to ensure a smooth, stress-free construction experience and exceptional results for each of our clients. Get in touch to arrange a consultation today.

Get in touch today to learn more about the role of an Architect and how we can help you design your next project



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