Superintendent

Superintendent

Services by Willow Frank

Shouldering the responsibility on behalf of the client


At Willow Frank we believe that while there is overlap between the role of Project Manager and that of Superintendent, it deserves a detailed explanation in its own right.

The Superintendent is a representative of the owner or Principal and administers the building contract to ensure the contractual obligations are performed. The Superintendent is also responsible for confirming the builder’s compliance with the requirements of the building contract and for answering queries in relation to contract matters or matters of construction.

Under a traditional construction contract, the superintendent has two separate and distinct roles:

  • to act as agent for the Principal;
  • and to act as an independent certifier.

The Superintendent is not a party to the contract; he is a person named in the contract by the two parties to the contract (the Principal and the Contractor) and given certain functions under that contract by those two parties.

The Superintendent is in essence fulfilling dual roles. The Superintendent has a quasi-certifier role between the two parties of the contract, deciding on issues of potential dispute under the contract, whilst at the same time being engaged by and acting for the Principal.

Acting as agent for Principal
As agent for the Principal, the Superintendent must act in the Principal’s best interests and in accordance with the contractual obligations on the principal.

Acting as a certifier
In this role, the Superintendent must act as a determiner, assessor or valuer under the contract. The Superintendent must act honestly, fairly, impartially and without bias when certifying any claims. As the duties of a certifier override the agency obligations the Superintendent owes to the Principal, the Principal cannot direct the Superintendent how to act as a certifier.


The role of the Superintendent is complex. It requires substantial building knowledge and skills, a sound understanding of contract law, and in particular the provisions of the project documents.

The Principal shall ensure that at all times there is a Superintendent and that in the exercise of the functions of the Superintendent under the Contract, the Superintendent:
(a) acts honestly and fairly;
(b) acts within the time prescribed under the Contract or when no time is prescribed, within a reasonable time; and
(c) arrives at a reasonable measure of value of work, quantities or time.

Willow Frank ensures that the dual roles co-exist under Australian law where the Superintendent is not to act simply to further the Principal’s interests but to ensure the contract is administered fairly and within the terms prescribed by the Contract.

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When acting as agent:

  • Issuing directions to the contractor on behalf of the Principal
  • Approving programs
  • Approving subcontractors
  • Resolving contract document ambiguities
  • Examining and testing materials
  • Postponement and suspension of work
  • Ordering variations

When acting as a certifier, the types of issues the Superintendent may be asked to certify include:

  • Extensions of time
  • Payment of liquidated damages
  • The amount of delay costs payable to the contractor
  • Payment certificates
  • Issuing final certificates and certificates of practical completion
  • Certifying costs incurred by the Principal when work is taken out of the hands of the contractor
  • Disputes