Monday, March 4, 2013

Working With an Architect IV

One of the most important functions of the construction documents is to provide a basis to validate an owner's project budget and to produce a refined project cost estimate. Because most owner architect agreements require interim progress reviews, it's common for the owner to request that the architect send a progress review set to his construction cost estimator to validate the project budget. A review set that is between 50% and 75% complete is usually used for this task.

The construction documents aspire to provide a high degree of detail and accuracy in order to prevent ambiguity. In a perfect world, the documents would leave no question unanswered and thus allow all bids to reviewed against the simplest possible set of criteria: capability and cost. The documents would also provide prescriptive measures for any foreseeable contingency in the execution of the contract and the building permit. We are not, of course, perfect creatures, so the fourth phase of an architect's basic services comes into play, namely bidding assistance.

The architect can provide a large range of services during this phase, under the headings of bid procurement, review and analysis. Many experienced commercial, industrial and institutional clients maintain facilities departments or have engaged property management companies to provide procurement services so this heading is often limited to residential clients and special situations. In fact, many architects are reluctant to recommend bidders because they prefer to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest no matter how negligible it might be. This is understandable because complex contract relationships exist even on relatively simple projects, and it is almost always better to keep the the lines drawn at arm's length well defined between the project participants.

Bid review is one of the most important tasks undertaken by the architect. The good architect knows the project documents intimately and can therefore recognize and assess omissions or onerous qualifications presented in order to provide a valid basis for comparison of the various bids received. Defects can be highlighted and used by the owner to make an informed decision on which bidder will be awarded the contract. Bid review also provides the opportunity to verify the scope of the project against the owner's budget and verified cost estimate. The result of the architect's assessment and analysis of the bids is called a bid recommendation. The bid recommendation will include the results of the architect's bid analysis which will clearly demonstrate how well the bidders complied with the construction documents when preparing their bid. The recommendation may also include other reasons why the recommended bidder should be considered or not, such as the architect's past experience in dealing with a particular bidder.

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