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CA: Architect as Client's Ambassador
March 19, 2015
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“The architect’s construction phase services are an important part of the construction
process, during which time the building design becomes a physical reality.”
-James B. Atkins, FAIA, KIA
The Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice
As a “full service” architecture firm, we are involved in our clients’ projects from inception to reality – from the initial concept through to the constructed building. One of our roles in this process is to be the client’s representative, advisor, and consultant during construction. Defined by many as ‘Construction Administration’ or ‘Contract Administration,’ clients are going to hear the two letters ‘CA’ at some point in their project. On a typical Design-Bid-Build project, CA services generally start after the construction documents – drawings and specifications – have been completed, and the construction contract has been awarded to a contractor. CA continues through to substantial completion, including assistance just before expiration of the standard one-year warranty.
In order for CA services to be most effective and offer the greatest value, a combination of efforts by the architect is needed to monitor conformance with the work described in the contract documents. But typical CA services go beyond reviewing submittals and visiting the site a few times.
In addition to attending regular progress meetings on site, some of our other key duties as architects include preparing field reports to document the progress; reviewing the contractor’s pay applications to ensure the client is not paying for work yet to be done; and managing any changes to the work by preparing change orders. We also aid in the completion of the project – preparing a “punch-list” of work that needs to be completed, verifying the Certificate of Occupancy is issued, and, if needed, assisting in the resolution of any issues at the end of the contractor’s warranty period.
One of our most important roles during construction is to serve as a resource for the contractor. Our Construction and Administration team includes some of the same individuals who designed and produced the project. Therefore, when the contractor has questions, we have the ability to respond based on knowledge and experience quickly; this saves time (and time is money!). We stay informed of the progress, are available to answer questions, and can help to resolve issues that arise in order to keep the project moving forward smoothly. Working as a team with the contractor, always with the client’s best interests in mind, we aim to identify a plan for any unforeseen issues or complications before they become genuine problems.
Buildings are complicated assemblies and even though both architect and contractor are skilled and experienced at what they do, the team is bound to face a problem, situation, or opportunity that no one was able to anticipate. At that point in your project, you’ll be glad we are still in your corner! Construction is hard, expensive work that can test even the strongest relationships, but when the architect and contractor commit to cooperation and work together as a team, project success is an easier goal to reach.
Matthew Cabe, AIA, LEED AP
Matthew has worked in the Fayetteville Office of Allison Architects for nine years, focusing primarily on commercial and institutional projects. He has performed construction administration on numerous projects, most recently The Pryor Center for Oral and Visual History and an addition to The New School in Fayetteville. He has served on the Fayetteville Planning Commission, Street & Sidewalk Committee, and currently sits on the board of the Fayetteville Housing Authority.
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