The architect's services do not end with finalization of the drawings and specifications (construction documents). During construction, the architect has an important and valuable role: using his or her eyes, ears, professional expertise, and judgment to determine if the work is being done in accordance with the construction documents. The architect's involvement in the construction administration phase enables you, the owner, to have confidence in several things:
The contractor's work is being monitored by a third party so you will get what you have agreed to pay for. Decisions that arise during the construction process will be made with the integrity of the design concept in mind. Work deemed unacceptable will be rejected by the architect. The contractor's requests for payment will be reviewed and judged for appropriateness relative to work completed. The project is not complete and the final payment to the contractor is not paid until the architect says so and issues the appropriate paperwork.
To accomplish these goals, the architect visits the construction site at agreed-upon intervals to stay generally abreast of the progress and quality of the work. During these visits, the architect usually makes notes and touches base with the contractor, providing clarification as needed. Sometimes he or she will arrange to provide a modified or additional detail drawing.
When issues, problems, or questions regarding the design arise during construction, the architect brings to the solution full knowledge of the process and reasoning that yielded your design's configuration, details, and spirit. He or she understands your budget and your expectations. With this knowledge, the architect can keep the design on track. Without an architect's advice and consultation, and without an understanding of the larger picture, the contractor can take the design off course. He or she can potentially make decisions, substitutions, and/or alterations on the basis of expedience or short-term cost savings that will leave you dissatisfied and disappointed.
Changes during construction, such as substituting one product or fixture for another, may be initiated by the contractor, the architect, or you, the owner. If the modification is minor and will not affect the design intent, contract sum, or contract time, the architect may authorize it on the spot. If a proposed change is more significant and will affect the design intent, contract sum, or contract time, the architect will review and present it to you in writing as a change order. He or she will evaluate the validity of the proposal, analyze its consequences, and advise you whether to reject or accept it.
The architect has authority to require additional testing or inspection if there is a question whether a product, material, or assembly meets the specifications. He or she reviews shop drawings (such as those prepared by cabinet makers), product submittals, and finish samples to check for conformance with the design concept expressed in the construction documents.
Finalization of the drawings is an important milestone in the process of building—one celebrated by both owner and architect. You can hold in your hands a detailed representation of your new kitchen, deck, master bedroom suite, or entire new home. The ultimate goal—completion and occupancy of the project—is best reached with the architect's involvement and service through the construction phase. Construction administration can be considered design insurance. It is an excellent way to maximize the success of a project.
Copyright © Laura Kraft 1997 http://www.lkarchitect.com
Author Profile: Laura Kraft * Architect is a one-person Seattle-based firm, practicing since 1980 on a wide spectrum of project types. For residential architecture, she provides a full range of professional service. She seeks to translate each client's needs and desires into satisfying built form, while respecting his or her budget and schedule.