The Architect During Construction

Updated: Mar 10



This is the fifth in a series of articles that will examine issues that can arise in the relationship between the architect in a construction project and the property owner, the contractor, subcontractors and others who may be involved. The architect’s role during construction should be set out in the contract. As we have said earlier, the contractual provisions should be carefully thought through and written to be sure they are accurate and create a “meeting of the minds” between the parties. A contract that is not understood in its entirety by the parties will only create problems that can be avoided by writing and understanding the contract correctly from the beginning.

The architect’s role during construction is generally spelled out in AIA form contracts. The architect often develops the construction documents, including drawings and specifications that the contractor uses to construct the project. The architect often provides administration of the contract for construction to, among other things, determine if the work meets the architect’s design intent. The architect is the point of communication between the contractor and the owner in matters regarding the contract including changes, acceptance of the work, and payments to the contractor.The architect’s responsibilities often include the following:

  • Administration of the contract for construction, and, when granted authority, be the owner’s representative, acting on the owner’s behalf during construction until the final certificate for payment is issued.

  • Visiting the site at appropriate intervals to become generally familiar with the progress and quality of the work completed, observing if it complies with the contract documents. The architect is not responsible for the means and methods of construction, or for safety precautions at the job site. These are the contractor’s sole responsibilities.

  • Keeping the owner informed about the progress of the work and report deviations, defects and deficiencies. The architect is not responsible for the contractor’s failure to carry out the work in accordance with the contract documents.

  • Investigating matters regarding site conditions found by the contractor during the performance of the work that are different than expected. The architect will then recommend an adjustment of the contract sum and/or contract time based on these unanticipated conditions.

  • Being the point of communication between the owner and contractor, and the architect’s consultants.

  • Reviewing, then accepting or rejecting the contractor’s application for payment. If accepted, the architect will issue a certificate of payment to the owner to initiate payment to the contractor. The issuance of this certificate means that the architect represents, to the best of his knowledge, information and belief, that the work has progressed to a certain point and is in accordance with the contract documents.

  • Withholding payment if portions of the work are defective, if third party claims may be or are made against the owner, if subcontractors have not been paid, if the work cannot be completed for the unpaid balance of the contract sum or in the remaining contract time, if there is damage to the owner or a separate contractor, or by repeated failure of the contractor to carry out the work in accordance to the contract documents.

  • Ordering inspection or testing of the work. The owner may be obligated to pay for these inspections and tests, but if contractor’s work had been done incorrectly, then the contractor is responsible for these costs and the architect’s additional time.

  • Reviewing shop drawings, product data and samples submitted by the contractor for compliance with the design intent only.

  • The architect is not responsible for the means and methods of construction or for safety precautions and will not be responsible for the contractor’s failure to perform the work in accordance with the contract documents.

  • Preparing change orders and construction change directives, and may authorizing minor changes that do not affect the contract sum and/or contract time.

  • Inspecting the work to determine the dates of substantial completion and final completion, check if the contractor finished his punch list, and if the work conforms to the contract documents.

  • Receiving and forwarding to the owner all close out requirements and issue the final certificate for payment.

  • Interpreting and deciding matters concerning the contract documents, decide matters regarding performance, and responding to contractor’s requests for information regarding the contract documents.

  • Being the initial decision maker, who is responsible for providing initial decisions on claims between the owner and contractor. The initial decision maker may be another individual but will be the architect if no other individual is selected and named in the construction contract.

Having discussed a bit about the general duties of the architect, we will review in the next article something about the authority of the architect.

Appreciation to Perkins & Will Research Journal, 2012, Vol 04.01, architectural Services During Construction, Duties and Liabilities, Helena O’Connor.

© 2020 by RGA Design Forensics, LLC