The first, and maybe most important, decision to be made when it comes to construction is the type of contractual arrangement best suited to the assembly’s situation. There are two primary arrangements to be considered: first, the Traditional Arrangement of Architect-to-Owner and Owner-to-Contractor and second, the Design / Build Arrangement of Owner-to-Contractor with the Contractor providing the necessary architectural services.
In the Traditional Arrangement, the Owner hires an Architect to design a building suitable for his needs, and reasonably within the established budget. Once the Architect has designed the building and prepared the necessary construction documents, the Owner hires a Contractor to construct the building. In this arrangement, the Architect’s contractual relationship is with the Owner and the design is undertaken by direct interaction with the Owner. The Architect serves as the Owner’s representative during the construction phase.
In the Design / Build Arrangement, the Owner hires the Contractor who in turn hires an Architect of his choosing to provide the required architectural services. The Contractor’s Architect designs the facility and prepares the necessary construction documents. The Architect has no direct contractual obligation to the Owner. There is no bid process so the plans may not be as detailed. Any competitive bidding occurs between Sub-Contractors. The Architect’s participation may be minimal during construction because the Owner interacts directly with the Contractor during this phase. The Owner must observe the Contractor’s work to ensure that it is in accordance with the construction documents.
Both contractual arrangements have positive and negative points; however, a good, honest Design / Build Contractor that works with a qualified, licensed Architect may offer the best solution. This contractual arrangement benefits the Owner by having the Contractor’s expertise in construction costs available throughout the design and construction document phase.
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