ARE 5.0 Section: Construction and Evaluation Part 1

  • 20 April, 2021

In my experience, one of the toughest sections to prepare for on the ARE exam is the Construction and Evaluation section. This is because it's a topic that is normally only lightly addressed in college architectural programs, and it is a topic best learned via experience.

With this in mind, I have written a series of three blog articles to share my experiences in practice and address specific aspects of Construction and Evaluation phase services provided by architects.

I'll begin with the General Conditions of a contract between an owner and a contractor. This is a document that, for the most part, spells out responsibilities of both the contractor and the owner as they relate to that agreement. The document also normally shares some of what to expect from the architect during construction. It is important to realize that the General Conditions document referred to here is not part of the Owner/Architect Agreement, so while it may explain (in part) what to expect from the architect during the construction phase, it is not by itself binding to the architect. I have found it important to coordinate the architect's responsibilities as described in the Owner/Architect Agreement with the General Conditions that normally accompanies an Owner/Contractor Agreement for these reasons.

ARE 5.0 Section: Construction and Evaluation Part 1

The main idea here is to avoid confusion by adding clarity. For example, if the Owner/Architect Agreement requires a total of 24 site observations over a 12-month construction period, but the General Conditions note that the architect will visit the site weekly, there could be a big gap in expectations as the project proceeds. I have found that contractors prefer to have the architects onsite, as this can expedite communications and the overall flow of information. But if the architect only has the scope and fee in the Owner/Architect Agreement to provide bimonthly site observations, this won't happen unless the Owner/Architect Agreement is amended to provide the additional services. Often this means that either the owner is a bit surprised (and likely not happy to have to pay for additional architectural services), or the contractor has to adjust their expectations (which could have an impact on both the costs and the project schedule). Neither is an ideal situation.

The same can be said about things like the timelines for architectural review and processing of submittals (such as shop drawings) from the contractor. The Owner/Architect Agreement may call for a two-week turnaround time for the initial review. However, the General Conditions portion of the Owner/Contractor Agreement may describe a one-week turnaround by the architect. Again, this can cause a gap in expectations between all parties involved.

To avoid all of this, the method I have used is to prepare the Owner/Architect Agreement at the same time as developing the first draft of the General Conditions to be used later in the Owner/Contractor Agreement. In practice, I have used the General Conditions in architectural service scope discussions with the owner so that the level of service expected of the architect during the construction phase is fully understood.

The lesson here is to coordinate between documents to minimize confusion and close the gaps in an effort to begin the construction phase from a positive position.

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