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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Anne raised another related but VERY important issue yesterday, 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, always 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 vital third Contract Document--the Agreement Between Owner and Contractor For Construction? I suspect it is because many architects, and unfortunately many clients, often feel architects lack knowledge of contracts in general. Big, big mistake, and we suffer for it every time the Contractor controls a project's CA processes, and we end up cast as the Hollywood stereotype egoists who have no regard for protecting our client's time and money.
It does not have to be that way unless we are ready to concede our responsibility as the professionals who are supposed experts in construction CONTRACT administration. We need not settle for being relegated to the kiddie table as soon as important construction decisions start to be made by the grownups. The best way to properly know and then effectively administer any contract is to be the one who helped our client and their advisors draft its terms.
Architects do NOT have to cede control of project terms and conditions to the Contractor as soon as we stop drawing. Architects write the Contract Specifications (but, hopefully, only after thoroughly discussing front-end options 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 later 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 the specified terms of their contract to benefit themselves. We need to educate our clients and coach them through the entire process. Only then will they trust us as knowledgeable professionals.
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 administering a quality result in THEIR interests, start to finish. Per Contract.
Dale Munhall, AIA
Director of Construction Phase Services
LEO A DALY