Should An Architect Be Involved During Construction?
The Importance of an Architect’s Involvement During Construction:
You’ve decided to take that giant leap to remodel your home, build an addition, or even build a custom home. You’ve chosen your architect, the drawings are done, you’ve chosen a builder, & the permits have been issued. You’ve started construction and things are proceeding smoothly… or at least it appears that way. But you don’t REALLY know, do you?
Unless you know how to build & understand construction, you’re assuming the work is being done correctly. There are 4 primary reasons why you should involve the architect during construction:
People make mistakes:
While you should have absolute faith and trust in your builder, the reality is that people do make mistakes & things can fall through the cracks. The builder may not personally be doing the work himself & is not closely overseeing the work being done. His employees may not have studied the drawings close enough or understand the finer points of construction. Maybe the builder was aware of certain decisions made with the owner or the architect, but didn’t relay that information to the person doing the actual work.
An architect is another set of eyes on the work being done to make sure it’s being done correctly & completely.
Don’t blindly trust the builder:
Unfortunately, there are some builders out there who will knowingly cut corners to save money, which they profit by at your expense. They’ll substitute inferior materials without your knowledge, such as installing aluminum flashing while you paid for copper. There’s a big difference in price & quality, and you’ve paid for one & got the other.
If the architect is involved on a regular basis during construction, they will confirm that what’s being built is done according to the drawings.
Don’t blindly trust the building inspector:
When you pay a building permit fee, you’re paying for an inspector to visit the site at various times to inspect the work being done. When they do these inspections, many times they’re only seeing if what’s being built is being done according to “code,” which is not what they should be doing. They should be checking to see if it’s being built according to the construction drawings, which could have a higher standard. Many times, they’ll do an inspection & don’t even have the drawings with them. Some inspectors are very “by the book” while doing an inspection, while others might simply be doing a cursory inspection. On older houses being remodeled, I’ve seen work that was clearly in violation of the code and it makes me wonder what the building inspector was doing.
Once again, the architect is the one who can confirm if the work being done is being done according to the drawings (which you’ve spent time, money, and energy on).
The architect knows best:
This where the architect comes in… you hired them to design your project & do the construction drawings. They are intimately familiar with what the builder is being asked to build, as the construction drawings are the basis of your contract with them. The builder should be building according to those construction drawings, not his own standards which might be lower.
It’s in your best interest to involve the architect during construction, but all too often the architect is left out of the picture once construction starts. Some homeowners see the value of this service while others might see it as an unnecessary expense, which is unfortunate.
What services can an architect provide during construction?
• Visit the site to observe the work in progress
• Write “field reports” to document work done incorrectly & what corrective action should be taken
• Review & certify the contractor’s payment requests
• Review shop drawings provided by others (structural steel, window & door schedules, custom cabinetry, etc.)
• Interpret and/or clarify the construction documents for the contractor
• Provide additional design assistance
• Do a final “punch list”
From my perspective, involving the architect during construction is money well spent.
Regular site visits can be made to observe the work in progress & provide “field reports” to document issues that might be discovered. These field reports will not only provide you with updates on the builder’s progress but will also document where the builder has made mistakes, taken shortcuts or has deviated from the construction drawings. These field reports are your insurance that these discrepancies will be corrected at the builder’s expense.
Site visits might be done once a week or once a month, all depending on how much you want the architect to be involved. Some projects might only require a site visit once a month, while others might require weekly site meetings for a year. At a minimum, a site visit should be provided monthly and be done when the builder is requesting payment for work partially or fully completed. After a site visit, the architect will determine if the work is done correctly & completely & will advise you to pay them accordingly.
A site visit might take ½ hour or may take a few hours, all depending on what work is in progress and what issues are discovered at that time. A field report may not be required at all, may take a little time or may take a few hours to write, all depending on what issues arise during the site visit. Time spent during the construction phase is typically provided on an as-needed hourly basis, as the amount of time required for a site visit or field report is indefinable.
The more the builder deviates from the construction drawings, more time will be required by the architect to “clean up the mess” by documenting what they did wrong & what remedial action is needed to correct the work… which costs you money because you’re the one paying the architect. While this may not seem fair to you and does result in additional costs, it’s your insurance that the project is being built according to what you paid for. You might consider having a clause in your contract with the builder whereby he’s responsible for these additional costs to you due to his mistakes.
DeMotte Architects | CT Architect & NY Architect | Hire An Architect During Construction Phase
With years of experience and hundreds of successfully completed home projects throughout Connecticut & New York, DeMotte Architects based in CT is here to help you create your dream home. Remember that involving an architect during construction can ensure your project is completed according to plan.