Melissa Brumback is a North Carolina construction lawyer and specializes in representing design professionals. Her blog, Construction Law in North Carolina is on my short list of must-read blogs pertaining to the built environment. A recent post of hers triggered some interesting discussion because of an inadvertent mis-wording. Originally titled, Construction Administration, she quickly revised the title to, Construction, er make that CONTRACT, Administration services: a primer (law note).
Liz O’Sullivan, a Denver-based architectural specification writer, first alerted Melissa that CA in an architectural contract refers to Contract Administration, not Construction Administration. She followed up with a blog post of her own: A Note on “C.A.” – Administration of the Contract. Well at least we got that cleared up…
How does this benefit the client?
A while back, I wrote a post over at my personal blog entitled, The Future of Architecture as a Profession? In that post, I pulled out some key points from a report by UK-based think tank, Building Futures, attempting to assess the viability of the architecture profession in 2025. Architects no longer function in the same roles that they used, for the most part. In the distant (but yet not so distant) past, architects were the owners’ representative. They breathed life into the dreams of their clients from the initial sketches through to completion. Contrast that image with the following quote from Brumback’s post:
Perhaps the most concept to remember for your CA role on a construction project: never agree to “inspect” the contractor’s work. Your role should be observation to see that the work is in general conformance with your design. You cannot guarantee the contractor’s work (nor would such be insurable). Therefore, be careful to use the word “observation” and not the word ”inspect” in your CA description.
From a risk management perspective, she is absolutely right. From the client/owner’s perspective (you know, those people that pay for and must live with your work), this is not in their best interest. And it is my opinion (as a non-architect) that this dynamic in architect-client relations is precisely why architects are seeing a diminished role in the built environment.
But all is not lost. The forward thinking and more entrepreneurial architects are diversifying their service offerings and finding other ways to bring value to their clients. In my original post I highlighted some examples of ways that architects are expanding beyond the increasingly limited role of the profession. Innovation isn’t easy. But isn’t that why you went to architecture school in the first place – to innovate?
Speaking of innovation, here is Bjarke Ingels on the topic:
Oh, and one more thing…
Check out this post I wrote about How to Effectively Market a Small Professional Service Firm, featuring another forward-thinking architecture firm that is not resting on its laurels.
Image courtesy seattlemunicipalarchives