Construction Administration Protocols - Why Changes Happen

6m 52s

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. 

Let's say you have to make changes to your drawings because there has been a mistake by the general contractor. What should the architect do in that situation? Do you just make the changes? What happens in that? And the answer to that is, well, first of all it depends on what the nature of the mistake is and it depends on how big a scale of a mistake it is. 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. And sometimes mistakes happen for totally reasonable reasons, they're just mistakes, other times they're a little bit more malicious. But whatever, they're mistakes and they can either be corrected or not corrected. And you might wonder, well, why would I not correct a mistake?

That doesn't make any sense. But in fact there's actually plenty of reasons why you might not want to correct a mistake. For example, let's say the concrete wall was put in the wrong place by 12 inches. And it's just a big, solid concrete wall and it's just in the wrong spot. But really replacing that, we're gonna have to cut that concrete out, we're gonna have to blast that thing out of there. It's gonna take a huge amount of effort to get rid of the mistaken wall and then have to reframe, re-form up, and then re-pour a whole new wall.

It's gonna take a long time. It's gonna have a big disruption to the process. And let's say we talk to the owner and the owner's like, "Well, I don't really wanna waste three weeks' time. "I don't wanna be three weeks behind schedule. "I'm okay with losing 12 inches out of that room." It's like, okay, they're okay with that, so we're just gonna redesign what we need to redesign in order to make that work.

Now, obviously you couldn't say yes to that if it was going to compromise the compliance with the code or something like that. You also wouldn't wanna say yes if it was just a bad idea for one reason or another. Maybe it makes the room just not workable but the client doesn't really understand. Well, that's part of your job, is to communicate with the owner and say, "Look, this is a bad idea, don't do that." Or, "This isn't such a big deal. "We can probably live with it. "How do you wanna approach it?" So the question, which is, all right, there's been a mistake made, the general contractor has made a mistake, now what should the architect do?

Well, the answer to that is really what does the client want? Is it about making sure we get exactly what we drew? Is it about keeping the project moving along? Is it about keeping a happy team so that the general contractor doesn't feel like they're being persecuted for making a simple mistake and you wanna keep everybody rolling forward and happy and make the team work well? Is it about finding a way to make the mistake into a positive and sort of turning it into design time?

Or is it, like I said at the beginning there, is it about just sort of making it correct, just getting them to rip it out and do it right, and then either going into litigation or arbitration or mediation about who's gonna end up paying for that work? And if it's very clear that it was a mistake by the general contractor, then they would probably just do the work. But if they're gonna challenge that, then it might go into a longer conversation. But the gist of the answer to a situation like this is always going to be go back to the client, go talk to them, and explain to them.

Remember, you're the conduit to the client of all things about the site. You're the one who's there to sort of take a look at the site, understand generally what's happening on the site at any given time. You're not there to understand every single thing. Like we've said before, that's not your role. But your role is to have a general understanding and be able to communicate that general understanding of what's going on in the site to the client so that they have some way of understanding what information they need to know.

So do they need to pay more money to get the project going? Do they need to hold the feet of the contractor to the fire and say, "No, you've gotta get it right"? What do they need to do? And part of that is what do you think they need to do, and part of that is sort of helping them come to their own answer about, well, I've just told you all that I know. Now how are you going to make that decision? And then as the architect I will then take that on and create the change order or create the conversation or bring it up in the meeting or whatever it happens to be.

So, even in this situation where we know whose fault it is, it says very clearly there that the mistake was made by the general contractor, so we understand whose fault is. That doesn't necessarily mean that we know exactly how we're going to play it out. And there really are many different possibilities about how it might go forward. So I had an interesting situation like this many years ago where we had a general contractor who came to us with their hat in hand saying, "Oh my God, we just made a big, egregious mistake.

"We're really sorry about that. "How do you wanna handle it?" And they were really sorry about the situation, understood that it was their fault, and were trying to make amends with it. And we went out, the owner and myself and the general contractor went out and looked at it, and we started talking about it and we realized, you know, this is actually better. The design is better the way that they had done it. It was accidental, but it was better.

And so, there was kind of a nice sort of moment. We all shook hands. Everybody was happy. And we had a great rest of the project because nobody felt like they'd been screwed, nobody felt like it had become this huge problem. But it was because we had sort of accidentally ended up into a better situation, or at least a situation that wasn't any worse, for example. So there's no right and wrong in this situation. It really is just sort of following the logic of the moment. What does the owner need?

How big of an issue is it? Does it actually cause any trouble? Is it code compliance issue or does it not impact that? And therefore how much of an issue do we wanna make out of it and what do we wanna get from that as a process? So, understanding all of those different issues, that's part of your role. You're supposed to be there to help the owner to understand what's going on in the site and to help translate the information that's happening on the site for the owner. So that's one of your projects, that's one of your roles, so you wanna make sure that that's the role you're actually playing.

This would be a spot where, yeah, you could just speak as the agent of the owner. You could just make the decisions. But sometimes you'll be surprised that the owner actually has some different way of approaching the information. So once again, it's all about the communication.

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From the course:
ARE 5.0 Construction & Evaluation Exam Prep

Duration: 11h

Author: Mike Newman