Construction Contract Administration

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The Construction Contract Administration Knowledge Community (CCA) has been established to help our members better understand the issues, actions and resultant impact of the decisions required in this often neglected part of Project Delivery. It is our goal to provide clear answers to issues of concern to the Institute’s membership and share case studies and best practices. We further hope to provide guidance and direction in developing guidelines for new and evolving approaches to Project Delivery as well as guidance in the continuing education of our emerging young professionals.

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Contract Documents

  • 1.  Contract Documents

    Posted 10-18-2012 08:20
    Thanks Jim! As a expert in a number of construction cases, we are seeing a shift from claims of design errors and omissions to claims of failure on the part of the design professionals to exercise due care in performing construction contract administration. The basic arrgument is "the architect knew or should have known that the work failed to comply with the contract documents, building code, or industry standards and should have rejected the work. This failure is a breach of the contract, breach of the standard of care of architects, and a breach of the duty the architect owed to third parties."

    Again Jim you are correct in that education is critical for architects to understand the changes in claims being brought against archtitects. Our defense to these claims is rigorous and knowledgeable adminiatration of the project requirements. The AIA has a strong role in education of the profession.

    CSI is conducting their annual Construction Contract Administration Academy in Charlotte in February. This program is led by industry experts and is a great educational opportunity for all design professionals performing these professional services.

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    Dennis Hall, FAIA, FCSI
    Chairman ' CEO
    Hall Architects, Inc.
    Charlotte NC
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    CCA 2020 symposium call for proposals


  • 2.  RE:Contract Documents

    Posted 10-19-2012 08:25
    Everyone in CRAN and elsewhere should heed Dennis Hall's advice here.  BE CAREFUL.  You need to prepare outstanding documents that are above reproach, and if you do Construction Administration: take your time; notice everything; do Not miss anything; compare it to your carefully prepared documents.  Send out your best people to do CA; those that helped prepared the documents and know what to look for in the field.

    I do battle on the CRAN every once in a while with those who believe that sketchy and sparse documents and no specs are just fine.  I couldn't disagree with them more.  We are charged with the HSW of the public and we have to do a thorough job or pay the price in later legal situations as Dennis so aptly depicts.

    However, at some point, the GC should bear responsibility for what he does in conflict with the architect's documents, especially if the architect is not providing Clerk of the Works daily services.  Kind of hard to see everything and report on it, if we are not paid to be there continuously.  We can only see and report on what is visible.

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    Rand Soellner AIA
    Architect/Owner/Principal
    Home Architects
    Cashiers NC
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    CCA 2020 symposium call for proposals


  • 3.  RE:Contract Documents

    Posted 10-22-2012 12:06
    An inherent difficulty with the CA process as architects currently perform it lies in the fact that the architect has sporadic access to the project, the construction conditions, AND the owner during construction.   The  contractor is there 24/7 and has the opportunity to be  in contact with the owner as  much as he/she wants and thus give the  owner the  contractor's perspective on any issue  that might arise.   Unless  you've built up a deep reservoir of trust with an owner during the  course  of the  design process, it  can all come undone with a couple of small mistakes or one  large one that persuasive contractors can use to plant the seeds of doubt and distrust in the owner's mind.  Once you're on the defensive it's very diffcult  to pull back from this.
    This is not to contradict all the admonitions to prepare good documents and be extremely vigilant during construction administration.  Just be  aware that all of the  good intentions ( and performance) in the world can be  undone by persuasive contractors who have the ear of  the owner constantly during construction.  And fee structures for architects typically  don't come close to providing  the architect with full time  access to the job site that would counteract this behavior. 


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    Eugene Ely AIA, LEED AP
    Architect in Waiting
    San Jose, CA
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    CCA 2020 symposium call for proposals


  • 4.  RE:Contract Documents

    Posted 10-23-2012 08:42
    Hi Eugene, you are so right.  I used to work for a large firm in a major metro area, where I was the project manager/co-designer on a high-rise multi-family project and one of the owners of that firm would always say: "The contractor is the ****bleeping enemy."  I really didn't agree with that philosophy, but can understand why we could be thrown under the bus by ill-intentioned GCs, trying to earn more profit by convincing the owner that we don't know what we're doing, so the owner should allow the builder to change things so that they are more cost-effective, without regard for the design or the positive aspects of what the architect has designed and detailed.  With the architect out of the picture, the GC has free rein to desecrate our creations and pocket the difference.  Got that. This has probably happened to all of us. 

    I'd appreciate hearing other comments about how to start off on the right foot with the contractor and owner and develop a cooperative spirit of sharing the common goal of helping the owner achieve his goals.  Going down the path of sniping at each other will only lead to litigation, which doesn't really help anyone but the attorneys.  Better to form a Design and Construction team (whether under conventional design-bid-build or not: it's more a way of thinking and respecting each other), where we do not allow anyone to fail and help each other to understand what's going to happen next and help each other to prepare for that and Kumbaya. 

    I had the opportunity to be the senior architect at another different, large design-build firm in Orlando, where a senior General Contractor sat at the desk next to mine and the cost estimator was only a couple of desks away, and my Cad guy was only about 10' away and we all had lunch together every day and went out to jobsites together.  Man, what a difference!  Nobody failed; no one was thrown under the bus, and we all made money for the company and saved money for the owner, with an excellent design.  The GCs actually became one of my best marketers, telling potential mutual clients what a great architects I was!  I saved the builders from making huge mistakes regarding code issues and they pointed out constructability issues to me. 

    We worked as a team, finding and solving problems together.  I think the goal of our architectural practices is to strive to find a process that gets everyone's heads to this shared objective mentality.  Something in how we approach the GC and Owner needs to be the catalyst for this process.  We in this forum should develop an AIA CCA Project Process that becomes the "go-by" for the profession.  Call it: CA Teaming or whatever.  The idea is: to have a common goal to help the client obtain their objectives and to help each other.  None of us is perfect, but we should try to be.  Even so, there will be something, somewhere that each of us misses.  That is where our CA Teaming method can help each other.  Sniping should be discounted as counter-productive.  Problem solving and improving the project should be the goal, but not at anyone's expense.

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    Rand Soellner AIA
    Architect/Owner/Principal
    Home Architects
    Cashiers NC
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    CCA 2020 symposium call for proposals