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Contractor Documentation

The AIA documents are specific in describing documentation provided by the contractor, and the architect is wise to capture that documentation in the record files. However, much of the documentation is not always provided, either intentionally or through lack of enforcement. Accordingly, the architect should strive to retain all documentation related to the project so as to have a meaningful record in the even actions or decisions are disputed.

Construction & Submittal Schedule—It is important that a submittal schedule be provided in addition to and coordinated with the project construction schedule. If the submittal schedule is not provided, or if it is not coordinated with the construction schedule, the architect should notify the owner and contractor in writing that the agreed upon architect response times for submittal review will not be upheld unless and until the submittal schedule is provided. This should be followed with an RFI to the contractor requesting the contracted information, and the delinquency should be reported in the project meeting until the schedule is provided.

Some contractors may not include a submittal schedule in their Work Plan. If the contractor persists in not providing the schedule, the project will be prone for delays. The architect should be persistent in demanding the schedule while documenting the contractor’s delinquency and the adverse impact that it bears on the architect’s delivery of services.

A proper submittal schedule is coordinated with the project construction schedule taking into consideration the time required for fabrication and shipping. Unless the submittal schedule is prepared in conjunction with the construction schedule, it will likely not be a realistic representation of required timing and sequencing.

Contractor Meeting Reports—All meetings conducted by the contractor should be reported in a meeting report. If in attendance, the architect should issue clarifications and corrections to all inaccuracies in contractor meeting reports. The amount of time required to adequately review and rebut a contractor’s meeting report is about the same required if issuing the report in the first place. The architect must decide if, 1) it will conduct and issue the project meeting report, 2) it will rebut the contractor’s meeting report, or 3) if it will issue a separate meeting report. The architect should be aware that when two separate reports are issued, two separate rebuttal responses are usually required.

Contractor Submittals—Submittals by the contractor are required by AIA documents, but some contractors fail to submit all of the required submittals and they sometimes submit submittals that are not required by the contract documents. A contractor’s Submittal Schedule will typically track all of the required submittals. Submittals not required by the contract documents should not be reviewed and should be returned without comments to the contractor.

Since submittals are considered necessary in order to determine work conformance, many architects will not provide CCA services unless submittal review is included.

Contractor Mock-ups—The contractor’s mock-up review meetings should have a detailed meeting report that includes relevant images. If the mock-up is found to be unacceptable, a follow-up review meeting with appropriate documentation will be required. Mock-up review meetings should be included in the contractor’s Construction Schedule even if the mock-ups are “in-place” and are a part of the finished work.

Contractor RFIs—Any contractor generated RFIs should be logged and tracked by the architect, and copies of the RFI and any related documents should be retained. If the contractor is utilizing a web-based documents management program that produces biased RFI reporting, the architect may consider tracking the RFIs separately. Many firms do this.

Schedule of Values—The contractor is required to prepare the schedule of values “in such form…as the Architect may require.”[1] This schedule is used by the architect in reviewing the contractor’s application for payment, and it should be provided by the contractor in advance of the first application for payment. If the contractor is reluctant to submit the schedule, an architect’s RFI should be issued requesting the contracted information.

Submittal of the Schedule of Values can be enforced by refusing to certify payment until an acceptable Schedule of Values has been agreed upon and submitted.

Contractor Applications for Payment—The contractor’s application for payment is a certification by the contractor that, “…the Work covered by this Application for Payment has been completed in accordance with the Contract Documents.”[2] It is given under a notarized signature because it supports the contractor’s express warranty, “that the Work will conform to the requirements of the Contract Documents and will be free from defects.”[3] The design professional is entitled to rely on this notarized warranty when reviewing the progress and quality of the work.

Review of the contractor’s application for payment is typically done by the architect while visiting the site. If review and certification of the contractor’s applications for payment is not required of the architect, this should be reflected in the project agreements and the general conditions. If certification by the architect is required in the contract documents and it is waived by the owner, the architect should confirm in writing to the owner and contractor of the owner’s waiver of this service.

Contractor Change Order Pricing—The contractor’s change order pricing should be timely provided to avoid delaying the project. The change order pricing status should be routinely discussed in scheduled project meetings, and should the pricing be delayed, an architect’s RFI should be issued unless the owner has not already done so.

Contractor Punch Lists—When the contractor considers the work to be substantially complete, “the Contractor shall prepare and submit to the Architect a comprehensive list of items to be completed or corrected.”[4] This list is required prior to the architect’s inspection for substantial completion, and if the list is not prepared, a deductive change order should be written for an appropriate amount. The architect’s services typically do not include preparation of punch lists.

The contractor’s punch lists can be prepared much more efficiently during or soon after the work is installed, and the owner is better served if this is done. An advance review of the work can be made by the owner, architect and contractor to agree on the acceptable quality, and ideally the work can be completed accordingly, thus reducing the magnitude of the list.

Contractor punch lists are typically attached to or referenced in the architect’s certificate of substantial completion, and if the contractor produces no punch lists, this should be documented accordingly.

As a note of interest, the term punch list came about during the early part of the 20th century from the use of lists prepared by contractors for individual subcontractors that were punched with a paper punch by the contractor when each listed item was completed or corrected.

Contractor Notice of Substantial Completion—The contractor’s transmittal of its punch list to the architect typically constitutes notice that the contractor considers the work, or a designated portion, to be substantially complete. If the contractor does not prepare a punch list, a written notice of substantial completion should be sent by the contractor to the architect and owner.

Since the architect sometimes prepares the punch list as an additional service, the written notice of substantial completion is not always sent. In this case the architect should require the contractor to give written notice or confirm the contractor’s notice of substantial completion in writing or by email, noting the date, the designated portion and the fact that no punch list was prepared by the contractor.

Preparation of the punch list by the architect is not typically included in the architect’s basic services, and it is thus an additional service to the architect’s contract. Since the contractor’s price typically includes preparation of the punch list, the amendments to each contract should be completed before the punch list is prepared.

Contractor Notice of Final Completion & Final Application for Payment—The General Conditions state, “Upon receipt of the Contractor’s written notice that the Work is ready for final inspection and acceptance and upon receipt of a final Application for Payment, the Architect will promptly make such inspection…”[5] However, a written notice of final completion is not always given by the contractor. Instead, the architect typically inspects the project to determine if all punch list items have been completed or corrected and all closeout obligations have been met, and if this is evident, the architect advises the contractor to submit the final Application for Payment.

It is helpful to have a formal written Notice of Final Completion from the contractor because it is yet another representation by the contractor that the work is complete and conforming. If no contractor Notice of Final Completion is received from the contractor, one should be requested, and if still not provided, the notice can be confirmed by the architect in an email.

Contractor Documentation Discussion Summary:

  • Require Submittal Schedule coordinated with Construction Schedule
  • Require contractor meeting reports
  • Review only specified submittals
  • Require mock-up reviews included in GC Submittal Schedule
  • Require Schedule of Values prior to 1st GC Application for Payment
  • Require notarized signature on Contractor’s Application for Payment
  • Require timely change order pricing
  • Require contractor prepared punch lists
  • Send RFIs to contractor if information not provided
  • Require contractor written notice of substantial completion
  • Require contractor project closeout meeting
  • Require contractor written notice of final completion

[1] AIA Document A201, General Conditions of the Contract for Construction, § 9.2
[2] Ibid, § 3.5
[3] Ibid, § 3.5
[4] Ibid. § 9.8.2
[5] Ibid, § 9.10.1

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