14 March 2016

Key clauses of the general conditions; more means and methods

In the last post, we looked at the means and methods clause in Article 3 of the A201. At the end, I concluded that the architect's responsibilities in construction documents are to show what the building should look like, identify the materials, and establish the standards for those materials. I also stated that virtually everything else - including supervising, scheduling, coordination, and deciding how materials are to be installed - is the contractor's responsibility.

When I make seemingly heretical statements like that, I often am asked how I came to such a conclusion. Many architects have a hard time believing they no longer control much of what goes on during construction, contractors sometimes don't like having that much responsibility, and subcontractors often tell me they don't like it when designers use reference standards because they expect the architect to tell them how to do their jobs.

As I explained, my conclusion is based on the requirements of the AIA general conditions (and general conditions from other sources, which typically have similar provisions). Not only does the A201 say the contractor is responsible for means and methods, it also says the architect is not responsible for means and methods, in Article 4 (my italics):

15 February 2016

Key clauses of the general conditions; means and methods

In the last post, we looked at the complementary clause, and saw how powerful it can be; we also looked at the limits of that power. Many architects know of that clause, and I occasionally have heard it cited, something like this: "I don't care if there is no specification for it; it's on the drawings, and you have to provide it!" In the same conversation, it wouldn't be unusual to hear, "No, I don't know how you're going to do it - that's means and methods!"

Although architects aren't shy about citing "means and methods" it seems many of them don't understand the full impact of what they're referring to. Turning again to the AIA A201, here's what Article 3 says (my italics).

§ 3.3.1 The Contractor shall supervise and direct the Work, using the Contractor’s best skill and attention. The Contractor shall be solely responsible for, and have control over, construction means, methods, techniques, sequences and procedures and for coordinating all portions of the Work under the Contract, unless the Contract Documents give other specific instructions concerning these matters.

19 January 2016

Key clauses of the general conditions; complementarity

Key word: ComplementaryAlthough it didn't seem like it at the time, one of the best parts of my CSI chapter's certification classes was reading the A201 - not selectively, but the whole thing, beginning to end. Being the heart of the construction contract, anyone who works on a project should know what's in it. I can't quote every part of it, but it's familiar enough that I can find what I'm looking for fairly quickly. I don't deal with much of it, e.g., claims and time requirements, but there are a few parts that I find of particular interest.

We'll start with what I call the complementary clause

§ 1.2.1 The intent of the Contract Documents is to include all items necessary for the proper execution and completion of the Work by the Contractor. The Contract Documents are complementary, and what is required by one shall be as binding as if required by all; performance by the Contractor shall be required only to the extent consistent with the Contract Documents and reasonably inferable from them as being necessary to produce the indicated results.

15 June 2015

Under-specifying - less is not always more

Singing Ringing Tree. A 3-metre tall
structure of stacked galvanized steel pipes.
(c) David Dixon
One of my favorite tales I use when teaching about specifications happened to me shortly after I took my first job as a specifier, at the University of Minnesota. Prior to taking this job, the sum total of my experience with specifications consisted of copying specifications onto drawing sheets. This activity was presented to me as little more than a mindless job, a necessary evil that was to be done as quickly as possible, with no explanation of what specifications are. As you might expect, there was no mention of CSI, MasterFormat, or SectionFormat.

This seminal event in my life as a specifier took place within a few weeks of starting my new job. It started with a phone call from one of the construction administrators.

"The contractor wants to know what kind of pipe we want for the bollards."

I didn't know, but I was sure it was in the specifications, so I responded, "It's in the specs, isn't it?" (Brilliant, don't you think?)

09 February 2015

Furnish, install, or provide?

Most architects, I believe, define the terms furnish (or supply), install, and provide, and sometimes those definitions appear in an owner's general conditions. When defined, they are part of the contract documents, and requirements using them are enforceable based on those definitions. In practice, perhaps because the definitions are nearly ubiquitous, I have had few problems with interpretation by contractors, or with enforcement.

Oddly, it's architects who seem to have the most trouble understanding and using these definitions, even though the definitions originate in the architect's own office.