I have had an Architect-led Design-build Practice for seventeen years here in San Francisco where the majority of our projects are high-end residential. I have a few comments & questions for you:
1.) How is your current design-build delivery organized from a legal standpoint?
2.) Are you the architect and the general contractor? Or, are you doing construction management at or with no risk?
3.) Is this a joint-venture with another general contractor?
From the very beginning, we established two separate sub-s corporations (or entities if you will) for our ALDB organization. One is the professional architecture firm and the other is a separate general contracting company.
To effectively have a clear line in the sand regarding liability (i.e., to prevent liability crossover between architecture & construction), we chose this route unequivocally. We have two separate agreements for the ALDB process rather than one. We all wear both hats and each member of our team works for both sub-s corporations; up front for the architecture side and on the back for the construction side. We always include pre-construction services into our architectural agreements consisting of costing, value-engineering for means & methods and additional analysis from a construction aspect based on the project scope and degree of complexity. However, the architecture liability ends when the construction begins. This is most crucial and should be delineated clearly in your DB agreement.
I understand you are looking for a simple agreement regarding this DB project for small residential work. I would offer that you review with your E&O carrier to fully understand your exposure from mulitiple angles. If you have done so already, then let me know how you are organizing this DB delivery organization and perhaps I can zero in more specifically to assist you.
Our agreements are custom developed to support our ALDB methodology. The AIA agreements are fine yet are not honed enough to mesh with our unique project delivery method. We rarely get negative feedback from our clients or scare them off with this two agreement protocol as we take every effort to educate them on the benefits of our agreement methodology.
Good luck, please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions.
James Walbridge AIA
San Francisco CA
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