Owing to different incentives, priorities, and other issues, architects and constructors working on the same project can find themselves in conflict. What conflicts have you had, and how have you learned to mitigate them in future projects? How have they affected your projects? If you haven't had any conflicts, what's your secret? I am collecting strategies and lessons learned for future publication and/or an AIA Convention program. If you are willing to share your experiences, please contact me at lindaATlindareederarchDOTcom or 203-789-8377.
If you are looking to find out why lawsuits against architects have been on the rise for years, and why our profession is losing respect, all you have to do is read the post below. While competition is clearly an important component of arriving at the appropriate cost for any project, more important is cooperation among the various parties involved. If the architect enters into a project with the expectation, or worse the goal, of creating conflict with the contractor, the biggest loser in the process will be the architect's client.
I have practiced my profession for 40 years, and the least successful projects I have been involved with are the ones which were bid after completion of 100% documents. The bidding process generates and supports the "license to steal" on the part of the contractor. Contractors who participate in these competitive processes are forced into finding how to beat the system by low-balling their pricing in the hopes of making it up later in change orders. In every case the bidders will find opportunities to create change orders during the construction phase, and the ultimate result will be increased cost to the client. Unless the architect is Superman, capable of producing the perfect set of documents on every project, he is not capable of addressing every contingency in his drawings and specifications. For the rest of us mere humans, the input of the contractor (also a human) is welcomed. Only if we are willing to work in concert with our associates in the construction industry will we be able to produce projects for our clients that are within their budgets.
The Architect and the Contractor are not on the same team. They are in the same game, however, and the rules of the game are called the Contract Documents. The Architect made them in accord with the Owner's desires and budget and the Contractor signed a legal document agreeing to follow the Documents. The Architect (and/or Construction Manager) are there to see to it that the drawings are carried out. He (she) should have the technical expertise and the financial control to assure that this is done. If the Owner doesn't want to pay for or give this power to the Architect, then the Architect can't be held responsible for what is built. It is up to the Architect to decide what kind of a deal he is getting into to start with. No one is forced to do architecture. Architecture is not for woosies.
The resolution of the conflicts that arise depend on (a) the facts of what the Documents say should be there and (b) the facts and ramifications of any desired variations of the Documents. How it gets built is the Contractor's domain.
It is not easy and takes experience, as any manager in any project will tell you. Experience has taught me several homespun rules. (1) Don't argue with a contractor when on a roof or more than three feet above grade. (2) Always wear a hard hat, even in the job shack.