This article is intended to assist clients with reading and understanding the elements involved in the contract between the Owner and the Architect regarding the duties and responsibilities of both parties.
The contract between the Architect and the Owner comes in many forms. Each Architect usually makes their own and some are preformed contracts that are provided by other sources such as the AIA or from an attorney who specializes in such matters.
The following article does not represent the exact elements of my own contract, but does include many of the elements found in most contracts.
The Architect services consist of those basic and additional services to which the parties agree, as well as any other services included and described in this Agreement. Basic and additional services are described in detail in the addendum to this Agreement. The Architect shall perform the services under this Agreement as expeditiously as is consistent with professional skill and care and the orderly progress of the Project.
This paragraph is intended to preface a listing of the services that the Architect is agreeing to perform. Be sure to check and understand the services the Architect is prepared to perform. These services should be explained in some detail so that the Owner understands the nature and extent of the Architect Basic services. Sometimes it is understood that additional services will be required in addition to the basic services. These services must be listed and described and should include the additional fee that will be required of the Architect. To cover Architectural services that are not known and not included in either the basic or additional services, the contract should included an hourly rate that will be applied when such services are required.
CHANGES TO SERVICES
Changes to Architectural services consist of those services that result from changes made to the project after certain portions of the work have been approved by the Owner. Changes can become active in the contract when the owner changes either the scope of the work or makes changes to the design after that work has been previously approved on the drawings. The cost of such changes is to be _______ per hour.
It is important to understand that after the owner has approved certain drawings and the project has moved forward additional expenses may occur. It is important that the owner be conscience of this fact before making final decisions on each meeting with the Architect. Take your time and make sure that your approval on each section of the work is well thought out.
SCOPE OF ARCHITECTURAL SERVICES
The Architect’s Basic Services consist of those described in the addendum which describes in detail the nature of each service that is checked below:
1. ( ) Conceptual/Feasibility
2. ( ) Setup
3. ( ) Preliminary
4. ( ) Design Development
5. ( ) Structural/Mechanical/Sections
6. ( ) Working Drawings/Details
7. ( ) Contract Construction Documents
8. ( ) Completion and Specifications
9. ( ) Contract Negotiations
10.( ) Construction Supervision
11.( ) Permitting
This is intended to allow the Architect and the Owner to list and discuss each step in the contract documents process. By checking each item, it is made clear exactly what services are to be agreed upon in the list of basic services
DESCRIPTION OF SERVICES
Determine the best course of action for projects that have multiple alternative solutions which need to be examined and discussed prior to continuing with any particular resolution. Provide sketches and plans sufficient to determine scope of work and assist with decision alternatives. Discuss general planning details, site relationships, access to utilities and other factors to verify the project does not have any major unforeseen conflicts. Required “as-built” plans must be provided upon completion of this phase.
As-built drawings are converted to 3-d model allowing for full animated views of the exterior and roof to review and determine appropriate roof changes and solutions.
Review any additional sketches, photographs and other documents that have been compiled. Refine and select alternatives in design and establish the nature and limitations of the project. Determine preferences, space requirements, budget, schedule, and local codes as they affect the project. Prepare drawings, discuss, revise and prepare for design development.
Review possible structural system alternatives, mechanical and electrical requirements, additional site considerations, and planning options. Consult with engineer(s) as needed and authorized. Revise plans per Client consultations to reflect additional information and select plan options. Produce a plan for approval.
Determine the major structural components and prepare drawings to show the foundation heights, ceiling heights, floor truss support allowance and roof components to determine the total height of the structure, required beam support points and other factors that may affect the structure. Provide elevations of the exterior and interior sections. Add and revise roof plan and foundation plan. Change floor plans per revisions and submit for approval.
Details are produced to show components in the building project. The need for more custom details will depend on the needs of the individual project, the requirements of the Owner and the degree of complexity of the project in general. The contractor may provide individual cabinet, door and window details as part of builder package. Structural details provided by the Engineer are incorporated. Change floor plans, elevations and roof plan and submit for approval.
The specifications will be completed depending on the alternatives selected. Specifications include information intended to assist the Owner with the obtaining multiple bids and a Fixed Price Contract with a builder. Notes and descriptions are added to assist the Owner and the builder in describing the work.
All drawings and documents are compiled, combined and referenced. The complete set of documents requires time to verify and correct inconsistencies. Each page must be sealed to verify and certify a complete and accurate package. This phase brings the plans, sections, elevations, construction details, engineering drawings and specifications into compliance with each other into an organized set of construction documents, ready for printing and distribution.
CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS: (as needed)
Depending on the size and complexity of the project and the number of bids obtained, the selection of the contractor may involve meetings with contractor(s) and Client regarding inclusions/exclusions payment schedules and costs to be included in the final contract for construction.
CONSTRUCTION SUPERVISION: (as needed)
Supervision duties are available to verify that the payment schedule is followed to completion and/or to supervise the construction process in behalf of the Owner when authorized.
PERMITTING: (as needed)
A building permit is required by the City of Austin for this project and may be provided by the Contractor.
The list and the Description of Services will change from job to job and will be different from Architect to Architect. The owner should read, understand and ask questions regarding the descriptions and be satisfied that everything that will be required is listed and described. If everything is not listed here, it should be included in a listing of additional services
DESCRIPTION OF ADDITIONAL SERVICES
Any additional service may be incorporated into the architectural services at any time the Owner and the Architect agree. If additional services are required due to circumstances beyond the Architect’s control, the Architect shall notify the owner before undertaking to provide the. The Architect will also provide the cost required that will be added to the total cost of the contract for approval by the Owner.
Any services not contained within the basic services should be listed and described in the section. The cost of the additional services should also be included here and added/included in the total cost of the agreement.
ADDITIONAL PLAN REVISIONS
Additional plan revisions are those revisions to drawings, specifications or other documents that bare inconsistent with approvals or instructions previously given to the Architect by the Owner; or required by the enactment or revision of codes, laws or regulation subsequent to the preparation of such documents; or due to changes required as a result of the Owner’s failure to render timely decisions; or required because of significant changes in the project made after the final contract has been awarded or construction has started.
It is important to know that there are possibilities that will cause the final cost of the agreement to change. Be sure to discuss these possibilities with the Architect.
The Owner shall provide information regarding requirements of the project, including a program that sets forth the Owner’s objectives, schedule, and constraints such as budget, space requirements and relationships. The Architect may assist the owner in the responsibility during the consulting or preliminary phase. (But the Architect may want to charge for this assistance)
The Owner shall also furnish or provide payment for a survey describing physical characteristics, legal limitations , utility locations and easements for the project site, and services of such other consultants as the Project may reasonably require when the Architect requests such services. The Architect shall be entitled to rely upon the accuracy and completeness of such services, information, surveys and reports furnished by the Owner.
The Owner shall make timely decisions regarding documents that the Architect submits, to avoid unreasonable delay in the orderly and sequential progress of the Architect’s services.
It is important to be aware of the Owners responsibilities as they are described in the Agreement. If for some reason, the Owner is unable to provided everything that is listed in the Agreement or further described and requested by the Architect, this should be discussed and arrangements agreed upon before starting the project.
OTHER CONTRACT ITEMS TO CONSIDER
In most contracts there are sections covering the termination, suspension or abandonment of the Agreement describing in detail any fees or penalties required by both parties should the Agreement be terminated. Both parties will usually have the option to terminate under certain conditions and notice.
Limitations and miscellaneous provisions may include waivers involving liabilities and limitations of responsibilities especially involving 3rd parties who may become involved. The Architect may request permission to use photographs in publications and may require that a sign be placed on the property during the course of the project and during the construction phase.
Non payment of fees may be subject to interest rates. Reimbursable expenses will also be listed and should include the rates and multiples of rates for each expensed considered to be reimbursable.