ConstructionPro Week, Volume: Construction Advisor Today - Issue: 149 - 03/07/2012

Do Project Owners Ignore Design Professionals During Construction?

By Bruce Jervis


Construction contract forms published by professional associations, notably the American Institute of Architects and the American Society of Civil Engineers, detail the project administration duties of the design professional. These responsibilities range from monitoring work for compliance with the drawings and specifications to approving contractor payment applications. On paper, at least, the design professional’s role in the construction process is comprehensive.


The problem is that many project owners elect to use these pre-printed contract documents but do not follow the administrative procedures spelled out therein. Sometimes the owner does not want to pay the design professional for such extensive involvement. More often, the owner simply ignores the procedures. During the stress and rush of the construction process, the owner deals directly with the contractor because that is more expeditious. The approval of the design professional is required on paper only.

There was another example of this in a recent Connecticut case. The project architect had certified substantial completion and prepared a punch list. The contractor disputed the punch list. The owner refused to make final payment. The architect was not involved in this dispute. His opinion was not requested. But when the contractor sued for final payment, the owner argued payment was not due because the contractor’s application for final payment had never been approved by the architect.

What is your experience? Are owners following the project administration procedures stipulated in the contract forms they chose to use? Or are these procedures routinely ignored, only to be raised as a defensive tactic in a subsequent dispute? I welcome your comments.

Featured in Next Week’s Construction Claims Advisor:

  • Contract Effectively Disclaimed Subsurface Information
  • Price Could Be Questioned Without “Price Realism” Evaluation Factor
  • Design/Build Owner Could Not Sue Designers




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