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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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
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
Ebi Saberi, AIA CDT CASp LEED APUniversity Architect, Campus Deputy Building Official
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
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.
Everyone must use the same calendar to avoid chaos.
Everyone should use the same logs.
William Arthur Wheatley AIA
Wheatley US Limited
Wheatley SPI llc
2 Bala Plaza, Suite 300
Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004-1501, U.S.A.
Tel. +1 610 658 0579
Who is John Galt? ...and, as important, where is Galt's Gulch?
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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.
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...
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.