Construction 101:

What you should learn about construction before it's too late!

  • Why 2.2.5 makes people mad.

    The General Conditions document of the American Institute of Architects paragraph 2.2.5 states that the contractor will be provided with all the documents needed to build your job free of charge. What often happens is the contractor asks the architect for multiple sets of plans and specifications and is told to print what he needs himself. He does and, at the end of the job, he hands the bill to the owner. The owner is not expecting a bill which can run into thousands of dollars on a large job. There are three ways this can be handled, but the most important point is to know that it could be coming. Contact us and we can advise you on the three methods.


  • Whose building is it to insure?

    The General Conditions document of the American Institute of Architects paragraph 11.4.1 states that the owner will insure the property including purchasing "Builder's Risk" insurance. So, from the very beginning of construction, the owner is expected to insure the building as it is built. A thorough review of the contract documents is vital to prevent an uninsured loss.

  • The architect missed it. Now who pays?

    If some element is missing from the drawings and is needed to complete the job, precedent says the owner pays the increased cost of the missing element. The "logic" behind this is that if it had been in the drawings to begin with, the bids would have been that much higher in the first place. It is a timing issue not a scope issue. There are exceptions to this rule and there are contracting methods that can be employed to eliminate this risk.

  • Just because it's there doesn't mean it works.

    All too often, building systems are put into service as the job goes along without being tested in a systematic manner. Interconnecting systems and adjusting equipment is becoming more complex by the day. Unless there are protocols in place to test and record results in an orderly logical sequence, a seldom used section of equipment may not function in the desired manner or may not function at all. There are methods to address this issue. The more complex the building the more vital they become.

  • Bonding subcontractors-who benefits?

    A payment and performance bond is like an insurance policy that kicks in when someone in the construction process fails to complete their work, usually by going out of business. Bonding a prime contractor, one who has a contract directly with the owner, protects the owner from this type of failure. Bonding a subcontractor, one who has a contract with a prime contractor, protects the prime contractor first. It would only offer protection to the owner if the prime contractor didn't have sufficient resources to absorb the possible loss related to the failure of a subcontractor. Careful analysis of the situation is needed before bonding is selected given the cost of bonding.

  • What did you buy from the architect?

    Typically, you bought a design to be used one time. The drawings are the property of the architect and are intended to convey the design only. The owner can retain a limited number of copies for their own purposes in maintaining the property, but the owner is not free to use that design again. If you have a special need you must negotiate that into your design agreement.

  • It has to be the architect or the contractor, right?

    Actually, wrong. You have a contract with the architect for design. You have a contract with the contractor for construction. The architect relies on your contractor to perform in a proper manner. The contractor relies on your architect for a proper, buildable design. Please notice that the constant in each situation is you! If the contractor has costs because of defects in the design drawings, you must compensate them and seek redress from the architect. You need an expert to navigate you through these waters.

  • What is a discovered condition?

    When something is not the way it is reasonable to expect it to be, that is called a discovered condition. Discovered conditions are grounds for additional compensation to the contractor. As an example, it is not reasonable to expect piping in a 10 year old building to be seriously deteriorated. If the job calls for using that piping and it is found to be unusable, that is a discovered condition and the replacement of the piping is a legitimate change order cost. Defining reasonable and customary takes specialized knowledge. Shifting the risk can be done, but at a cost.

  • You allowed for that in your fee/bid, didn't you?

    Usually, no. Design and construction are typically based upon doing a very narrowly defined scope of work. In this highly competative field, the margins in both design and construction are such that there is a limited amount that someone can absorb. A little minor item here and there is one thing, but if the issue is large enough for a discussion, it is probably too large for someone to "make it go away." A lot depends on the type of contractual relationship you have and what people have had to do to win those contracts.