What do Architects do?

The Architects role in a construction project

The Architect’s role during construction and the role of the Supervisor or Construction Manager both play significant roles in the construction of offices, residential homes and apartments. However these roles are fundamentally different, and often open to misinterpretation. Which begs the question: What do architects do?

the architects role in a construction project

Let’s explain the two disciplines, and clarify the distinctions between an Architect and a supervisor or construction manager.


  • Architects design buildings and structures that are functional as well as energy efficient, environmentally friendly, aesthetically pleasing and safe.
  • An Architect works with clients to determine parameters of a construction project. This includes construction objectives such as budget and time factors.
  • Architects are administrators of the Building Contract, which is a legal contract between the Client and the Builder.
  • Architects make periodic visits to the building site to monitor progress, assist the Builder interpreting documents, review overall progress of the work being carried out and answer the Builder’s queries.
  • An Architect is not responsible for the work of the Builder or for the supervision of the Builder and contractors.
  • Architects, as administrators of the contract have certain powers. 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.
  • In order to practice, an Architect requires more qualifications than a construction manager. In Australia, to become an Architect requires a minimum of 5 years University study followed by 2 years practical experience in order to be eligible for registration.  Thereafter, an Architect must undertake annual professional development to remain registered.


  • Supervisors and construction managers are responsible for the co-ordination and scheduling of the construction processes in the building of office complexes, residential homes and industrial structures. This can require being on the site for 8 or more hours per day.
  • Supervisors approve and hire specialty contractors for certain operations, such as plumbing, electrical wiring and framing. This includes contract bidding, negotiation and sub-contractor selection.
  • A supervisor is responsible for all work carried out, and that it complies with the contract documents as well as the Building Code of Australia.
  • Supervisors liaise with technical professionals such as architects and engineers regarding design objectives, time and budgetary constraints.
  • Supervisors organise the supply of materials, equipment and labour and are responsible for quality control throughout the project, and also arrange building inspections with the relevant councils.
  • A building supervisor’s qualifications include an engineering diploma or trade qualification and the nationally recognised Certificate IV in Building or Diploma in Building. These qualifications can take 3-4 years to gain.

The role of an Architect and that of a supervisor are distinctly separate but 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 co-ordinate and problem solve.

Different as these roles are, it is imperative that professionalism and co-operation between both disciplines occurs during each step of the construction process to achieve a positive outcome.