ARE 5.0 Construction & Evaluation Exam Prep

portrait, Mike Newman

Mike Newman

10h 37m

In this ARE 5.0 Construction and Evaluation Exam Prep course you will learn about the topics covered in the ARE 5.0 CE exam division. A complete and comprehensive curriculum, this course will touch on each of the NCARB objectives for the ARE 5.0 Construction and Evaluation Exam.

Instructor Mike Newman will discuss issues related to bidding and negotiation processes, support of the construction process, and evaluation of completed projects.

When you are done with this course, you will have a thorough understanding of the content covered in the ARE 5.0 Construction and Evaluation Exam including construction contract execution, construction support services, payment request processing, and project closeout. 

*NCARB does not endorse this Tutorial, is not responsible for any of the content of this Tutorial, and by taking the Tutorial each individual agrees not to look to NCARB for any dissatisfaction or claim arising from the Tutorial.

NCARB Approved ARE 5.0 Test Prep Material

Objective 1.1: Interpret the architect’s roles and responsibilities during pre-construction, based on delivery method

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And your role is to be helpful for the client to be able to make sure they understand what's going on, but also to be sort of part of the team to keep the project going so that the contractor has all the information they need in order to be able to make the decisions they need in order to keep the project moving along. So, there's a number of different points along the way that we have specific roles and then there's a number of points along the way where we have more intangible kind of consultant type roles both for the client and for the GC. But it's an important set of roles in order to keep a project going forward.

So the videos for construction administration will be organized in the same manner that the exam is organized and will focus mostly on lectures, but then we'll start moving into some examples, we'll look at some specific project examples and some matrix ways of looking at some of the information we'll think about various scenarios, and we do that in order to kind of get you out of the kind of lecture mode, and sort of put you into the kind of okay, here's some information, how do you think about it, what's an issue around the lecture, as a way to kind of think about these things, because the exam is really trying to move away from direct questions and move more into here's some pieces of information, now put together a logical response to that information. So we're going to try to keep using those scenario considerations as a way to make sure that you are constantly sort of jumping out of the lecture into the real world but then back into the lecture as well. We'll also look at some document samples, and we'll go through a bunch of questions, in order to kinda keep the juices going and always remember that it's about the exam that we're trying to get across here, so, let's get started.

So is it the sort of classic design bid build where I've got the owner, the architect, and the GC. And they each have their contracts with the owner. And then there's the consultants kind of around the architect.

Integrated Project Delivery, that's one of those ones where, it's essentially the same as a sort of normal Design-Bid-Build process, it's just that it has a few extra layers of communication added into it. And so there's a expectation of the way that the sort of meetings will go, and who's running the meetings. Typically, all of those roles and responsibilities that we've been talking about would still be part of the architect's roles, it's just that, over the span of the process, the contractors and the owners have been more involved.

And since know that's likely to be coming, that's why that whole question about the bid package becomes so important, because we know we're gonna want to know more information, we know we're gonna need to be able to find ways that we can bring those prices down, so we're trying to foresee what the issues are, we're trying to understand the idea that the plywood isn't gonna be available, or it's gonna be super expensive, or that concrete just isn't a material that's used much in that area, therefore the labor costs are much, much higher than they would be for, say, steel. Whatever that climate of information, or whatever that situation is around the time and the locale and the region, you're trying to bring all that information together in some wave, kind of a communication system, and that communication system is going to include the bid system, like how we want people to give us information back, but it's also going to be part of the review system, the analysis system. We're gonna have ways that we take this information and really sort of put it together in some form so that we can than give it to the people that need to be able to see, typically the owner, we're gonna be able to have a system for how we're analyzing all of this information.

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Objective 1.2: Analyze criteria for selecting contractors

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13m 38s
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So, now you've gone, you've made a bid package, you've got all the information together, you've chosen who the bidders are going to be, all the information has been sent out, you get the information back, that information comes back, you have your system of analysis, you have a whole way of communicating that system of analysis, to the owner through a spreadsheet maybe or maybe through sort of bullet point understandings or maybe it's through the lens of cost only, because that's the key piece of information, or maybe it's through the lens of quality or some other lens of information that you're thinking about what's the way that I need to transmit this information to give the most usefulness to the client, to the owner so they have the ability, with you, to be able to make a final set of decisions about who they're going to choose. Let's say you go through that whole process, you get all this information back, you've sent your analysis to the client, you're sitting down to have the meeting and you realize that it's just not enough, that the prices are too high, or that they clearly didn't understand something, or that you just need more information in order to be able to make a decision between which bidder you're going to choose. So sometimes you just need more information, and that creates a sort of unusual setup where I need to, ask for more information.

13m 36s
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It's always hard to tell from one project to another but patterns do emerge, so that's why you're following up, and that's why you're tracking down the owners of other projects and getting those references and really going through that information. Because it's not just about the price it's also about all of these other, sort of quality, and being able to work with them, and the idea that they're able to bring in things on budget, the idea that they keep the project rolling and get things done on time. Those are all very meaningful concerns that might be the reason that you might not go with a low budget, you might choose to go with somebody who's higher.

Because what we're trying to do is we're trying to get the correct information to be able to make the correct choice to get the right contractor to be able to build the project in a way that's going to make everybody happy, and sometimes that's going to be about just getting it done, sometimes it's going to be about getting it done for the right price, and sometimes it's going to be about getting it done at the right quality level. So you'll often see, this is a bit of a cliche, but you'll often see the idea that there's three basic ideas: cost, quality, and speed. And the usual description here is, alright, you have those three choices, you get two of them.

Non-profits will be mostly focused on just being efficient and well-run, that's what they're going to be really shooting for. But they also may be bringing a much stronger sense of connection to a community, or a much stronger sort of desire to be representative of a certain situation. While they may be focused on the dollars, they also might really want to make sure that say, people from the community they're working in are hired in order to do the project.

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Objective 1.3: Analyze aspects of the contract or design to adjust project costs

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9m 51s
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And if the bidders have a lot of good information or if somebody else in the office would be able to see really useful information or by hiring outside contractor to come in and just give you some information about the bid set, whatever system it is, whatever way that you're doing it, you're just trying to gather all that useful information. Like we've said, the idea here is that you're getting all this information to be able to make a decision but almost always, there's gonna be some aspect of value engineering. Almost always, you're gonna be a little bit more optimistic on the drawings than what the bids are gonna come back.

The idea of the performance bond is that somebody is saying "We are worried that you're not gonna make it "all the way through the project," you as the general contractor, "so we need there to be some insurance in place "that says if something goes wrong, "the insurance company will step in "and make the project happen "without it costing us extra money." So the insurance company, the only reason they're gonna give you a performance bond if you're the general contractor is that they trust that you're likely to make it through. But they don't believe that they're gonna be brought in to be able to finish the project for you. So they think it's a good bet, they're gonna get paid a little bit of money, but they're probably not gonna have to pay any money out.

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Objective 2.1: Evaluate the architect’s role during construction activities

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You're just there to make sure that people have the right information, you're there to make sure that if the project goes forward it will, in fact, become and meet the design intent that was produced. So you're looking sort of, will this project become the project it's supposed to be? So, one is you're just looking to see that.

Whether that's legally reasonable or not is another question, but it's a sort of reasonable understanding and so you need to be able to respond in sort of a logical timely manner, which means there should be a shop drawing log as information is coming in, as those shop drawings come in. You have a place where you can log the entry of those elements and say, "We received it on this date "and here's the date that we responded. "We received it on this date as a resubmit "and then here's how we responded on the second time." So, hopefully that log has two different sets of line items.

Objective 2.2: Evaluate construction conformance with contract documents, codes, regulations, and sustainability requirements

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There's just a lot of little bits and pieces, and it's hard to keep track, so the role of the punch list is to make a very clear, comprehensive list that says here's a bunch of issues about paint, here's a bunch of issues about the plumbing. You know, the hot water doesn't come on at the kitchen sink on Unit 12. The toilet in Unit 3 leaks a little bit and there's a little pool of water down at the floor level.

And that completion moment sort of marks the end of regular construction process and moves into you're just doing paint touch-ups, you're just sort of making sure that the last little bit of switch work was done with the light switching, or that last little bit of cabinetry, or the countertop, or making sure the final sink is actually placed in correctly and with all the sealant and everything around it. That all of those little last bit moments where everything is pretty much done, but there's a little bit left, that's that kind of punch list stage, you've gone through, you've made the list. So, things completed enough to the point where now the regular contractors just aren't there anymore.

So the Means and Methods are all the process of going from the idea, from the Design Intent, to a finished product. Now clearly you can imagine the contracts end up reading quite differently. If you have a contract for Design Intent, that contract is fairly open-ended.

You're gonna have on your drawing sets, well, how the concrete's gonna work and what kind of formwork to use for that concrete and the spacing on the rebar and how you're gonna put in the anchor bolt in, at every six feet, in order to put the sill plate on and what the method of doing the construction for the walls up above, and like all of those things, the things that you're drawing and those are clearly construction means and methods. So, what are we talking about here? How do we start to get this bright line separation.

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2m 59s
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Objective 2.3: Determine construction progress

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And then there'll be a whole series of issues like agency, that talk about different aspects of the project and different sets of relationships, and those will be different per each different type of project delivery. Sometimes you'll have agency, and sometimes you won't. Sometimes you're part of the means and methods...

This is one of those examples of a kind of surreptitious question about the means and methods that what this is really saying is, if I'm going and visiting the site and I'm saying it meets the requirements, well that means I'm saying yes this meets all the means and methods issues. But you just don't know that and so you can't claim that. So you have to be careful about the terminology.

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Objective 3.1: Determine appropriate additional information to supplement contract documents

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So, change orders, construction change directives, are when you can't work out the deal on the change order, and you're just saying, "All right, we'll figure it out later." This is essentially a change order. But even though the contractor isn't willing to agree to the price, we're just saying we're gonna go ahead and move forward, and then we'll go to mediation or arbitration or some other way of figuring out the exact price down the road. So, it's a little bit of a dangerous thing to do, 'cause you never really know.

But the short answer to that is that if there's a mistake and it's by the general contractor, then the next thing that the architect should do is have a conversation, both with the contractor, but also with the owner, and try to understand what the nature of the mistake is in terms of the process for the owner. So, what do I mean by that? Well, clearly everybody would hope that the general contractor wouldn't make a mistake, in the same way that you hope that you don't make any mistakes, but of course mistakes happen.

So when you talk about shop drawings, they get a little confusing because they sometimes live in this world where it's just about kind of clarification and you're just keeping track of the information and that's all you need to do. And then there's other times when they actually represent pretty major changes and you really have to make sure that your sets of information are being kept up-to-date to follow that.

So like I was saying earlier, if in that situation, in that shop drawing example, if the example changes something, well that means it's changing the design intent, so the question becomes do we need to do more drawing, do we have to take that information back into the contract documents, or does it just live in the shop drawing? That as we've gone through the whole design intent, now these other elements will provide these other changes, and it just keeps moving forward. And there is no exact right answer to that, it really depends on how many other things are affected by it.

So what the question is really asking is, is it okay for the architect to charge more beyond what the contract was really stating, if some reason, the design has changed, and therefore there's more work for the architect? And the answer to that is sometimes yes, and sometimes no. It would depend on what the change was for.

So one quick example of weather is maybe you make a deal, it's gonna be a six month construction, and we're ready to roll forward, and it's March and everything's perfect, and we're gonna go and then there's some issue that comes up, maybe it's a financial issue, maybe it's a code-related issue with an inspector who wants something to get fixed first, and the project gets delayed a number of months, and so now, instead of starting in March now we're starting in say November, or December, well the issues of the weather that were gonna be happening over the spring and summer for that six month project duration, might be very different than the ones that are gonna be happening over the six months starting in November, December and January et cetera, that it would be totally reasonable, in that moment, for the general contractor to say look, the weather is different now, my bid, my contract with you, was if we were starting in March, this is now a different project, the weather will have impact on our process and we can't just assume that we could just take that exact same bid and just shift it down six months later because the weather is now different and therefore you might do all sorts of different changes into the concrete mix or into any number of different aspects of the design process. Another reason that changes happen, which we've talked about a little bit already, is the idea that just clients change their mind, especially once a contractor has started to actually build something out, you actually see it very differently when you actually see real walls and real spatial relationships. It's very abstract for most people to look at a sheet of paper or look on a computer screen and truly understand what the relationships are going to be like, but once they can actually sort of stand in the space, there may be changes that just come up because they realize there are differences in the way that they want to move forward.

Well, the architect's role of course is to keep track of all the design changes through the construction process because the design changes are important both from just making sure the right thing gets built, but also in terms of keeping a record and how that record can be used down the road if there's any squabbles, any litigation, any sort of problem that comes up. There should be a clear record of the design changes. Now, not every design change will actually even be known by the architect.

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1m 53s
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Objective 3.2: Evaluate submittals including shop drawings, samples, mock-ups, product data, and test results

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So those situations have a little bit more of a back and forth in the discussions, in that they are really meant to be fodder for discussions whereas the cylinder test or something like that is really just sort of a paperwork thing unless it actually came back negative, at which point then it's a starting point of a whole series of different changes that would have to get made, and really in-depth conversations about what are we gonna do to fix it? So testing can be sort of its own set of issues. It's a little different than other kinds of submittals.

9m 20s
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While it's not as strong as it will be at 28 days, you have a pretty good idea of where it's at, and the testing services can judge, pretty closely, if we smash this thing at seven days and it's much weaker that we are expecting, they know that it's gonna be too weak at 28 days as well. It's close enough that if it's not good enough at seven days, it's not gonna be good enough at 28 days. We test it at both of those, we have an early warning at seven days, and then we can have the final testing at 28 days.

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1m 41s
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Objective 3.3: Evaluate the contractor’s application for payment

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If you're gonna do a project, especially if you're working with an existing building and you're doing a project within that or a rehab or some sort of adaptive reuse, there's just bound to be a bunch of stuff that you just don't expect to have happen. And so in those situations I'm going to have the bids and the information that come from the general contractors, gonna have all of their information and then at the end we're just gonna add a contingency. We're just gonna say alright we're just gonna take what they bid we're just gonna add 10% to it.

21m 28s
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You wouldn't ink it in until you were actually set and everybody agreed, obviously, it's now done on Excel sheets and things like that but it's a big long list and we come down and we can add up all of those amounts that are the amount that's going to go to the actual process of getting money back for, so, like I said, the door handles, we're not anywhere near the door handles yet so there's no money going for the folks who are supplying doorhandles or installing those but the excavator, the concrete and a few other folks in this early stages, they're gonna be getting money so we add up the total amount of money from our pencil draw. The contractor formalizes that document and we then have a full list that's now formalized 'cause we've all agreed so we need to have a place where we can show that we agree and that's what this form is. So this form is the application for payment.

You want to have the GC be responsible for that material so that there's a push, there's a desire on their part to only get the pipes there right, ready, when they're gonna be installed and then get them right inside and used, immediately, so you just don't have a big bunch of pipes sitting around waiting to be stolen. So, that would be an example where I would absolutely not. I would absolutely not allow a GC to get paid for the delivery of pipes to the site.

So, once you've determined whether this is actually an issue or not, sometimes people just look for conflict for whatever reason, and you just sort of roll with some of them, and some you fight, but once you've determined it's an actual issue, then the first thing after that that you're going to do is you're going to talk to the owner. Because remember, in this situation, your role is you are representing the owner. If there's a conflict, you need to have an idea from the owner how the owner feels about it if it's beyond your ability to sort of assume what the owner feels about it.

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Objective 3.4: Evaluate responses to non-conformance with contract documents

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So you may have been super speedy and a bunch of phone calls and caught the thing very early and everybody sort of got to a handshake deal, but if it's not in the record somehow, if it's not sort of a clear description of what happened, what decision was made and how that decision got played out, if that doesn't make it into the written record, two, three years from now, nobody's gonna be able to remember that that happened and it's not gonna be there to sort of back you up in terms of, no, no, no, we made sure that this was corrected and here's how we did it, so that down the road, you're not open to problems down the road, or the owner isn't, or the GC isn't. That part of keeping that clear written record is partly about the communication, because presumably you're using it as your communication tool, but also it's partly about looking to the future and your hope is that nobody in the future is ever gonna read that memo, like because why would you ever want anybody to ever see any of that after the project's done? It's just that if they do need to see it, it's a big deal.

Now, of course, having said that, there's gonna be a million times out on a job site when you're gonna be in a situation, you notice something's wrong, you make a little quick change on the drawing set or you just say, oh hey, don't forget, that was a mistake, we misspelled it or it's in the wrong pattern, or whatever it is, and you have that conversation and everybody moves forward and they build it fine and it's all good. Right? Not every time are you gonna sit down and write a memo just because there was a mistake that you found.

And it's not like they had some strong piece of information like, "Here's a new layout," or "Here's the meeting minutes that explain "how we made the change and what the change actually is." If they're just writing off of a discussion that happened to have happened a month ago and nobody ever followed up with it, well, then, it's not really the GC's fault, either. It's now in the hands of the architect and the owner, and the architect is the one who would be responsible for that. So the answer of "Whose fault is it?" is going to be completely dependent on "Well, what did you do?" In a situation like this, it's not gonna be dependent on any of the physical aspects of it like it was a month versus three weeks or anything like that.

If you just do it as mediation, it's still a long process but it's not as long and complicated as arbitration, and that's not as long and complicated as litigation. You're stepping down in levels of complexity and trying to keep it tighter and faster and easier for everybody to sort of get involved. And the mediator because it's somebody that both parties will be agreeing to definitely wants to be somebody who is knowledgeable enough in that kind of context but is not partial to one side or the other in any way, so that both parties can agree on it so they bring a lot of information.

If you have a good working relationship and everybody's issues are clearly being stated and you understand their issues and everybody else understands their issues and those issues are being communicated clearly and everybody knows the process, they expect how it's going to work, you tell them what's going to happen and then that happens, you kind of make sure that everything is rolling along and that everybody is pleased to be part of the process because you have a good working relationship, that is going to take care of 90% of the issues that you have out on the field, that the vast majority of litigation and really problematic arbitration and mediation projects come from situations where there's just really bad blood, where there's people who are acting badly, they're not communicating well, the drawings are messy, the site was messy, the relationships weren't clear, that there wasn't a process that was clearly laid out for everybody so that they know where they fit in. They understand what their role is. If things are sort of unclear and messy and just sort of unpleasant, well, then you are gonna be much faster to saying, "Hold on, no more, we're not gonna do it.

You're gonna talk to the owner because you wanna make sure that before you start going off in a really sort of, yeah, we're gonna change this thing, you gotta rip that out, you gotta make it right, that first of all, it wasn't something that the owner actually wanted, second of all, that, now that the owner has seen it or that you've just called attention to it, that they may like it better. You don't wanna change something and cause delays and have all kinds of problems happen if it actually doesn't really matter or it makes perfect sense and you could just leave it, or just understanding how this fits in with a relationship between the owner and the GC generally. Has this been something that's been happening a lot?

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2m 25s
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Objective 4.1: Apply procedural concepts to complete close-out activities

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And remember that the punch list is a just list of things that need to get fixed or finished. It's not meant to be a to-do list from the standpoint of well we haven't poured the concrete yet so that goes in there. The punch list is really meant that alright we've poured the concrete, the concrete was poured months ago but there's a crack in it that really should be fixed before we say that it's finished or that the concrete needs to be sealed or that there needs to be backfill up against it.

So if the GC hasn't done any of that, and the owner hasn't gone through and prepared the process and really thought through, possibly with the help of the architect, really thought through the process that they're going to go through to move all this material in so that they have a very clear understanding and all their people have a clear understanding of how they're going to be literally moving things through, which doors to be using, what process to be using. Are the doors gonna be propped open, are they not gonna be propped open? Like that kind of level of detail, and if the architect hasn't gone through and actually documented things appropriately, and kept on top of the punch list and what's happening with the owner move in process.

So that might be something, a funder might be looking at that, the developers might be looking at that, so whole series of people who might be going through the building and the end of the close-out process just to make sure before everything gets signed off, before the C of O, before the people can move in, before all of that can happen, they have a process and a right to sort of go through and be part of that sign-off process. And obviously, if we have inspectors, the inspectors have the right to go through because they have to sign off on the building. Now, not everywhere in the country, will every municipality have an inspector that does a final sign-off.

If they have a very good understanding of that, then at the project close out it really shouldn't be a problem, but most projects, there will be some element of confusion about whether the piece of equipment falls under the GC's jurisdiction, or whether that's something that the owner is really expected to bring by having some other contract, and some other person bringing it in, and sometimes the FF & E is handled by the GCs, one contract and they cover everything as sort of a turnkey process, so that's a very particular way of doing a development, where one person will take care of everything, and then the owner just has to move in, and you hand over the key, and that's done. But typically things like chairs and tables and things like that, that's not something that's gonna be part of the general contractor. So there's multiple contractors usually involved in a process, and when you get to this project close out time, there's sort of a transitioning of one contractor with another, so the general contractor is trying to finish up and trying to make sure that the punch list is all done while the other folks are bringing in all the furnishings, and making sure that the refrigerator is working, and getting the server to be correctly positioned, and not overheat, and do all that.

Many of you have probably dealt with vanilla box situations before, but it's a sort of odd term that's used to describe alright, we know there's gonna be a retail space in there, but we don't know who the retail tenant will be, so we just need to get a HVAC system in and some basic lighting and some basic idea of where the outlets need to go in order to sort of just get it up and running. And then once it's there and ready, then we're much more likely to get a tenant who's gonna fit in. Or it could be similar idea for a small office space, or it could be a similar idea for even a small apartment unit, something like that, where you get things to a certain point and you just get a basic idea of how the systems are gonna work, and get a basic idea where the outlets are gonna go.

Objective 4.2: Evaluate building design and performance

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So, some of them could be contractual, if you have added those elements onto your contract as additional services, and some are just ideas that should probably take place because it's going to be useful for your firm, or for your team, or for the project, and you just want to make sure that you're always making your firm and the project and the sort of way that you work with other people, better and more straightforward and more concise and more efficient as you move through these kinds of projects. So what are those issues? After the project is done, there's a whole series of lessons learned that are worth the time to go through.

You'll already be able to say, "Well, you know, we talked with our consultant team" "and we think we can be more efficient in this way," or, "We talked it over and we realized" "that we kind of missed the boat on these two issues." "Even though we liked the project a lot," "here's a couple of things that I think" "we could have done better and smarter," right, that if you have that kind of information at your fingertips, you're much more likely to get that next project because there's gonna be an understanding that you have a thoughtful process and that that process is adaptable to the needs of the client. Not all architects will come across that way. Not all architects will give across that sense of adaptableness to what the client really needs.

Commissioning is that process where you're gonna go through and look at the building after it's been constructed, so usually the commissioning process starts just at the end of the project closeout, so you're just right there, right before everything gets the final payment and all that, the commissioning agent comes in and they do a bunch of tests right at that very moment, so they are making sure they're part of that final balancing and testing so that they understand exactly how things are starting in the process, and then they'll come back, either at the end of the first year or at the end of three years that might have multiple points along the way that they do something. It could be more than three years. You could do it for five years or something like that.

So the technical information is really gonna be about the kind of use of the building, the fire ratings are really about the sort of solidity of the building, it's a kind of a different technical issue, so, commissioning is gonna be about kind of use issues, fire rating is really about this other aspect altogether. Number four. Really, what is the point of talking to your consultants about how a project went, everyone's busy and moving onto a new project.

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