ARE Section: Construction and Evaluation Part 3

  • 04 May, 2021

In part three of this blog series, I discuss specifics related to when an architect observes work that appears to be nonconforming in accordance with the contract documents. First, recall that an architect does, in fact, have the authority to reject work that does not conform with the requirements of the contract documents. This authority can be intimidating, but, in my experience, needs to be used occasionally.

Sometimes, the work performed is on the right track but somewhat subpar. For example, a drywall subcontractor might apply spray-on texture to a wall to save time, but the resulting texture is inconsistent in some areas. In such cases, often a simple conversation with the general contractor can result in corrective action. Perhaps I will make note of this inconsistency in an architect’s field report, or perhaps it will be discussed and documented during owner/architect/ contractor on-site meetings.

Then there are more complicated cases that involve a bit more strategy. I recall a past project where I performed an on-site observation near project completion, specifically to review the roof. It was then I observed that the coping flashing was not installed in conformance with the contract documents, and there were other installation defects related to improper slope (drainage) and poor installation of roof membrane seams. While I did not expect that any of these conditions would develop into immediate problems such as a leaking roof, I was more concerned about long-term wear and how the deviations may result in a shortened roof life.

ARE Section: Construction and Evaluation Part 3

What made this situation tricky was that the owner was highly motivated to get the project completed. Further, the owner wanted to sell the property almost immediately upon project completion. So, while I felt there were potential issues in the long-term related to roof life, I had an owner who was soon to be a former owner, which means that his interest in the long term was waning. This reality made rejecting the work not only a challenge for the contractor in charge of making the repairs, but for the owner as well because he wanted to sell the building.

In this case, I decided that a conversation with the owner was necessary. I felt that I needed to reject the nonconforming work because although the current owner was selling the project, a new owner would be unaware of the potential roof issues. I additionally felt that I needed to protect the interests of the new owner and protect myself against potential future claims.

In the end, I was able to motivate the current owner by documenting the nonconforming work in detail (including photos) and offering the owner two choices: either to accept full responsibility for the nonconforming work, including disclosing it to all potential buyers; or to support my position and work together with me and the contractor to get the work corrected. The owner chose the latter, and the roof defects were corrected by the contractor. This example demonstrates how complicated things can become on projects, and how deciding to reject nonconforming work can require strategic thinking.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 08:39 AM