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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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"Counter-logging" policy

  • 1.  "Counter-logging" policy

    Posted 09-22-2020 01:26 PM
    Does anyone else maintain a company policy to maintain a "counter log" for RFIs and Submittals received from the Contractor? We define a "counter log" as our version of the truth. We have experienced too many instances where the Contractor either manipulates their logs or perhaps won't close RFIs if they don't like the answers we provide then start litigation over the excessive delays in responding!!

    With the cloud-based technology available today, it's a shame we still have to continue doing double entry of data when we have downward pressure on professional service fees.

    ------------------------------
    James Vandezande AIA
    HOK, Inc.
    New York, NY
    ------------------------------
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  • 2.  RE: "Counter-logging" policy

    Posted 09-23-2020 05:24 PM
    My current firm does not do counter-logs but we tend to do private work or do our own construction with DesignBuild, but my previous firm, which did mostly public work, required it. It saved us many times!

    ------------------------------
    Rachel Brown AIA
    Architect
    Labarre Architects, APAC
    Denham Springs LA
    ------------------------------

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  • 3.  RE: "Counter-logging" policy

    Posted 09-23-2020 05:42 PM

    James--

     

    We at LEO A DALY have found that the best way to prevent manipulation of logs on Submittals and RFIs, etc. is to specify a NEUTRAL, jointly-administered project website that lets both the Contractor AND the Architect control and make entries, and that is fully accessible at all times by all project participants.  At the end it should provide the same permanent Record Archive disk to Owner, Contractor and Architect.  The best website service we have specified as sole-source in Section 013100 for years--for that exact reason--is Submittal Exchange, now under the Oracle umbrella.  If you want more details, just contact me at DLMunhall@leoadaly.com

     

    --Dale Munhall, AIA

    Director of Construction Phase Services

    LEO A DALY

    Omaha NE

     

     

    LEO A DALY

    Dale L. Munhall, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP

    Senior Associate, Director of Construction Phase Services

    LEO A DALY

    8600 Indian Hills Drive,  Omaha, NE 68114-4039

    402.391.8111    D 402.390.4482    M 402.670.2078

     

    PLANNING   ARCHITECTURE   ENGINEERING   INTERIORS

     

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  • 4.  RE: "Counter-logging" policy

    Posted 09-23-2020 06:53 PM
    CannonDesign has been counter-logging Submittals and RFI's for almost 20 years, to the tune of over 50,000 documents a year, into a single corporate-wide system.

    How else would a company know what documents are in its court?  With people working in multiple projects simultaneously, myriad consultants, and multiple offices engaged, one cannot rely on the contractor's system.  Furthermore, doing so is very dangerous: we've been denied access to the records, seen records altered after the fact, etc., without even starting to speak about the grief we get at the jobsite meetings when we don't control the record.

    The single cloud-based system provides instantaneous feedback of who has what, and when it is expected. It also allows performance measurements and the corresponding efficiency improvements.

    The only way to avoid double logging is if a) one system becomes so dominant that everybody uses it, or b) if all the systems developers agree on a common interoperable language, so documents can be sent from one system to the other without losing accuracy.  This would be analogous to what happens with e-mail.

    We need an "Esperanto" for Document Control.

    Gustavo Lima
    Director of Construction Administration at CannonDesign (Retired)

    ------------------------------
    Gustavo Lima AIA, MRAIC, DBIA, CCCA, LEED AP
    President
    Gustavo A. Lima Architecture, PC
    Buffalo, NY
    ------------------------------

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  • 5.  RE: "Counter-logging" policy

    Posted 09-24-2020 12:54 PM
    Edited by Ebi Saberi AIA 09-24-2020 12:56 PM
    While in private practice working for a large international firm, we maintained separate RFI logs which allowed for the Architect to insert the actual dates received and due per the contract rather than the contractors dates that often happen to be incorrect due to poor administrative oversight.  We encountered such discrepancies from project to project and it became more efficient and less costly to setup projects from the get-go with internal RFIs and submittal logs.  Use of project management software such as Newforma, made the process more efficient.  Intent of the separate logs were to:
    1.  keep track of the actual dates that RFIs were received and actual due dates per contract requirements.
    2.  Allow the Architect to manage and keep track of the consultant responses and due dates.
    3.  Log the validity of the RFI for later searches and analysis.

    Benefits of number 1 and 2 above are rather obvious.  As for 3, instituting a searchable simple 3 letter coding standard into RFI responses became an extremely power tool for the Architect. this coding consisted of 3 letters after the signature of the architect that identified if the RFI was a "Valid RFI", "Not a RFI", "Duplicate", "Information requested was already in the contract documents", "Contractor Coordination Item", "Substitution Request" (disguised as an RFI), or a "Submittal" (again not a real RFI and it would be send back as not reviewed).
    It must be emphasized that the logs were separate from the official contractor or owner logs which allows the team to validate or challenge nonarchitect  logs accuracy.  Such simple processes provided a powerful way to challenge contractor claims very quickly as contractors are quick to point to the number of RFI issued and the number of RFIs outstanding when making broad claims.
    Please keep in mind that the Contractors typically have more access to the owner during construction that Professional Design Service Providers and as such it really falls on the Architect to provide factual information back to the owner when claims (not necessary legal in nature) are made by the Contractor.  Construction Contract Administration Phase is when the Architect often looses the trust of the Owner no matter what the delivery method is.  Architects should consider how to maintain that trust.  Additionally, Architects have to consider the motivations of an Owner Representative (project or Construction  Manager) in how they relay information back to the Owners group or how they portray architects in general.  Separate RFI log is a simple investment that protects the Architect as well as maintains clients.

    ------------------------------

    Ebi Saberi, AIA CDT CASp LEED AP
    University Architect, Campus Deputy Building Official



    ------------------------------

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  • 6.  RE: "Counter-logging" policy

    Posted 09-24-2020 03:24 PM
    What if we were to require that each "player" in the project game make log entries in an online log that is common for all parties? That would allow any player to make his/her own entries and offer corrections to entries made by others.


    ------------------------------
    William Wheatley AIA
    CEO
    Wheatley Us Limited
    Bala Cynwyd PA
    ------------------------------

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  • 7.  RE: "Counter-logging" policy

    Posted 09-24-2020 11:17 AM

    Gustavo and James--

     

    Counter/double-logging of thousands of the Contractor's construction phase documents takes the Architect a whole LOT of extra (uncompensated) CA hours.  Submittals and RFIs, etc. are, of course, NOT Contract Documents.  They are of, by, and for the Contractor to show how they intend to comply with design intent we define in the actual Contract Documents, as we should fully and carefully specify in Divisions 00 and 01, while they fulfill their contractual responsibilities to the Owner.  Yes, we always need to review submittals in whatever time period with whatever actions we agreed to do in our Agreement with our client, but double-logging separately by us and the Contractor can just become you-altered-vs-I-altered claims, proving very little other than inviting arbitration/litigation and costing us a lot of wasted effort.  The better--and far more cost-effective solution for both Owner and Architect-- is to preemptively specify in section 013100, in detail, a NEUTRAL jointly-controlled project website service with automatic notices, reminders, etc. to be included in the Construction Cost.  Architects do NOT have to silently settle for a 'free' Contractor-controlled website by default--the GC can still use their own software system to do subcontract accounting, etc., which is an appropriate part of their internal overhead costs.  A neutral project website service such as Submittal Exchange also enables a fully transparent, unalterable permanent record of ALL types of construction phase information, including meeting minutes, testing, O&M materials, etc. to the benefit of the Owner's entire project.  The record of all construction phase activity is retained by Owner, Contractor and Architect via an archive disk at the end of the project.  And, this can completely eliminate logging dispute problems, for the record.

     

    ---------------------------

    Dale Munhall, AIA

    Director of Construction Phase Services

    LEO A DALY

    Omaha NE

    ---------------------------

     




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  • 8.  RE: "Counter-logging" policy

    Posted 09-24-2020 05:35 PM
    Dale: how does your "neutral" location take into account the following scenario -- which I've seen on a lot of projects:  The contractor has a "calendar days" requirement in their contract and we have a "working days" requirement?  I've done scenarios where we could both be in compliance but almost a full week apart in dates.   (and I can say that I've seen this occur in multiple offices over the years).  A counter log, as annoying as that may be, does allow for differing conditions.

    ------------------------------
    Anne Whitacre Assoc. AIA
    HOK
    San Francisco CA
    ------------------------------

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  • 9.  RE: "Counter-logging" policy

    Posted 09-26-2020 10:55 AM
    Stay positive, Architects Log, we've always used one and reconcile with the GCs Log Monthly at the OAC meeting.



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  • 10.  RE: "Counter-logging" policy

    Posted 09-24-2020 07:43 PM
    William:  That's what Dale suggested.

    And it's a good idea, except that it doesn't let you have a corporate-wide view of the myriad of submittals and RFI's that are in your firm's court every day.  And without it, I fail to see how you you can establish a thorough quality control system in a large firm.

    Encouraging your staff and consultants to return aubmittals and RFI's on time can only be done if you know when something is late and you call them on it, and, conversely, when somebody is doing an amazing job and you can reward them for it.  And you can only know that from a comprehensive firm-wide system, not by going into the hundreds of projects in which dozens of different systems are being used, each with separate logging credentials, etc.

    One lawsuit where you are being held responsible for a large delay can easily bankrupt your firm.

    Gustavo Lima, AIA, past Director of CA @ CannonDesign (retired)​

    ------------------------------
    Gustavo Lima AIA
    President
    Gustavo A. Lima Architecture, PC
    Williamsville NY
    ------------------------------

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  • 11.  RE: "Counter-logging" policy

    Posted 09-25-2020 03:16 PM

    Anne--

     

    You raise another related and VERY important issue, and it's not just about logging/double-logging or reviewing submittals and RFIs:  if there are any conflicts between our Agreement with the Owner and the Owner's Contract for Construction with the General Contractor, it is because the Architect was cut out of the process of drafting the Contract For Construction (which happens far too often if we let it).   

     

    We do, in fact, draft the two basic Contract Documents--the Drawings and the Specifications, INCLUDING, whenever possible, the all-important front end specs in section 007300 that define Conditions of the Contract For Construction.  So, why do we so often let ourselves get cut out of drafting that third Contract Document--the Agreement Between Owner and Contractor?  I suspect it is because architects and our clients often feel we lack knowledge of contracts in general.  Big mistake, and we suffer for it every time we play into the Hollywood stereotype of architects as egoists who have no regard for protecting our client's time and money.  It does not have to be that way unless we concede or responsibilities as professionals who are the experts in construction CONTRACT administration.  We need not settle for being relegated to the kiddie table as soon as construction decisions start to be made by the grownups. 

     

    We do  NOT have to cede control of the project to the Contractor as soon as we stop drawing.  We write the Contract Specifications (but, hopefully, after discussing with our client for their approval!), and those are absolutely the Contract Requirements that the Contractors bid on.  Contract Specifications are not merely 'suggestions' for Contractor approval or an invitation for further negotiation after bidding, nor should the Owner concede or contradict the specifications just because the Contractor wants to arbitrarily change terms of their contract to benefit themselves later.    

     

    I submit that Construction CONTRACT Administration begins with our CCA rep helping establish critical Shared Expectations with our client for entire project, even before design begins.  It is time that we CCA architects start to step up and make our clients realize that we are their best investment in saving THEIR time and money while delivering a quality result in THEIR interests.  Per Contract. 

     

    ---------------------------

    Dale Munhall, AIA

    Director of Construction Phase Services

    LEO A DALY

    Omaha NE

    ---------------------------

     




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  • 12.  RE: "Counter-logging" policy

    Posted 09-24-2020 05:42 PM

    Everyone must use the same calendar to avoid chaos.

     

    Everyone should use the same logs.

     

    --Bill

     

    William Arthur Wheatley AIA

    Wheatley US Limited

    Wheatley SPI llc

    www.WheatleyUS.com

    2 Bala Plaza, Suite 300

    Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004-1501, U.S.A.

    Tel. +1 610 658 0579

    w.wheatley@WheatleyUS.com

    https://amazon.com/author/williamwheatley

     

     

    Who is John Galt? ...and, as important, where is Galt's Gulch?

     

    UNCL

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  • 13.  RE: "Counter-logging" policy

    Posted 09-25-2020 04:14 PM

    In the early part of my career, several decades ago, it was pretty common for the architect to draft the owner/contractor agreement.  However, that only works in the traditional design/bid/build universe.  The trend that I have been seeing much more often in the past 15 years has the contractor on-board in many cases before the architect has been hired.  The contractor may be brought on for feasibility studies, or other preconstruction services.   At any rate, we have nothing to do with the contract between owner and contractor.    I had a managing principal tell me about 15 years ago  "look – the owner and contractor can change the terms of their agreement over golf on Saturday morning.  You have to write the specs to protect us.".    I was trained to consider the arrangements much more collegial.   I don't remember the last time I worked on a traditional design-bid-build project. 

     

    In general, I think it is useful to maintain a somewhat protective attitude regarding our documentation.  Even in the theoretical tri-party agreements (the idea behind IPD) our profitability can be equal to a rounding error in the construction cost. 

     

    ANNE WHITACRE  FCSI, CCS, Associate AIA, LEED AP BD+C
    Principal  |  Sr. Specification Writer

    HOK
    One Bush Street, Suite 200  |  San Francisco, CA 94104 USA
    t +1 415 356 8685  m +1 510 388 4333  anne.whitacre@hok.com

    hok.com  |  privacy policy




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  • 14.  RE: "Counter-logging" policy

    Posted 09-25-2020 05:32 PM

    Anne--

     

    In my own career of (much) more than forty years, I have drafted literally dozens of A133 Contracts for Construction Management at-Risk and CM Agent projects as well as too many D-B-B A101 Agreements to count.  After all, who knows the project better than the Architect?  Seriously.  We as a profession simply have to start early convincing the Owner that we are on THEIR side, and we know that real Architecture as far more than just a stack of drawings. 

     

    The key in CM at-Risk project delivery is for us to ALWAYS write front-end spec Divisions 00 and 01 at the end of SD as part of our drafting the RFP that solicits proposals for CM services.  Otherwise, if we wait, then no specs apply to the CM/GC unless or until we can get them into the GMP Amendment, which is generally too late, and GMP 'Clarifications and Exclusions' are always enough hassle just on technical issues.  We can be fair, collaborative and collegial with the CM/GC without just rolling over and abdicating our professional responsibilities at the end of CDs.

     

    Remember, issuing the front end spec conditions that we have thoroughly discussed with our client BEFORE the CM/GC is hired is ONLY fair way for the CM/GC to know the project scope and conditions they need to base their fee on.  And, it absolutely eliminates the hassles of CM-as-GC changing everything later to make their lives easier and more profitable and ours harder and less profitable--evidence this current string of frustrated CCA posts on KC KnowledgeNet.  As I keep saying, we don't have to let a CM or GC dictate project delivery conditions to us and our client.

     

    It's Construction CONTRACT Administration...

     

    LEO A DALY

    Dale L. Munhall, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP

    Senior Associate, Director of Construction Phase Services

    LEO A DALY

    8600 Indian Hills Drive,  Omaha, NE 68114-4039

    402.391.8111    D 402.390.4482    M 402.670.2078

     

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  • 15.  RE: "Counter-logging" policy

    Posted 09-25-2020 05:50 PM

    Anne--

     

    Your question about how a neutral project website can resolve arguments over review days and dates brings yet another related issue.  In addition to my other recent posts on the 'logging' subject where I advocate that the Architect should always draft the Contract For Construction to eliminate such discrepancies, here an additional point:  get the Contractor to actually submit at the beginning the Submittal Schedule that we should always specify that they have to submit for our approval.  A neutral project website makes that process easier if it has a "Date Expected" column for every submittal, as Submittal Exchange does.  Make the Contractor fill it out completely, but before you approve it, talk to the Contractor and collaborate professionally on what is the most reasonable point where each submittal really needs to occur in relation their also-specified CPM Schedule.  No surprises, and no overloading the A/E with prematurely hasty submittals just because subs send them to the GC all at once, earlier than necessary.  

     

    LEO A DALY

    Dale L. Munhall, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP

    Senior Associate, Director of Construction Phase Services

    LEO A DALY

    8600 Indian Hills Drive,  Omaha, NE 68114-4039

    402.391.8111    D 402.390.4482    M 402.670.2078

     

    PLANNING   ARCHITECTURE   ENGINEERING   INTERIORS

     

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