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California Construction Contracting – Role Of Your Architect. By: Brett A. Overby
Architects serve an essential role in any construction project, from planning, development, and design through construction and project completion. Not only do architects design the project, prepare the plans and specifications, and ensure compliance with applicable codes and regulations, but architects can also serve key administrative and coordinative roles during the construction phase. Every construction project requires careful planning, and one of the most important things that a school should carefully plan is the role its architect will serve in its project. In doing so, schools should:
- Understand that the architect’s agreement may not adequately cover the duties the school needs the architect to fulfill, especially during the construction phase of the project, and take care to revise the architect agreement at the time of contracting to anticipate and meet the school’s needs. Some of the considerations include:
- The architect’s personal visit(s) to the project site prior to design to observe and visually verify any “as-built” conditions;
- The number and frequency of meetings the school wants the architect to attend;
- The number and frequency of site visits; and
- The architect’s obligations relating to responding to submittals and requests for information from the contractor.
- Understand that the contractor’s agreement may include roles and responsibilities for the architect that the school may not want the architect to fulfill. The school should revise the contractor’s agreement to accurately reflect the involvement of the architect so the school does not end up having to pay for unwanted services from the architect in order to comply with the contractor’s agreement. Some of the considerations include:
- Will the architect be certifying pay applications from the contractor?
- Will the architect be serving as the initial decision maker?
- Will the architect be approving submittals from the contractor?
- Will the architect be involved in approving change orders?
- Will the architect be involved in the final inspection?
- Understand that schools are legally responsible for the architect’s plans and specifications that are provided to the contractor, and so there is significant benefit to having the architect available during the construction phase to answer the contractor’s questions about the plans and specification and respond to any allegations from the contractor that the plans and specification contain errors, inconsistencies, or omissions.
- Take care to coordinate in the applicable contract documents, the responsibilities of the architect with those of the contractor to avoid overlapping or conflicting duties, which can lead to confusion on the job site, delays to the project, and extra costs.
Careful planning can help to clearly define the role of the school’s architect, and help to promote an efficient, cost-effective, and timely construction project.