As design professionals welcome warmer weather and seasonal allergies, they also usually find themselves responding to more RFIs and submittal reviews as construction projects kick off. Some timely reminders about construction phase responsibilities are therefore in order.
Design professionals typically have construction contract administration responsibilities on a design-bid-build project. The scope of authority that the design professional has is described in the professional services contract. It is essential that all design professionals be aware of the scope of services they are providing during this phase. Constructors typically put forth significant resources of their own to get the project going and take on considerable risk to construct the project. As such, they require timely feedback from both the owner and the design professional during construction so that their resources are not idling on site. For a successful project, all the parties (owner, constructor, and design professional) have to fulfill their responsibilities competently. And when design professionals strive to provide meaningful feedback to the constructor when problems are encountered, they often forget that their role is to provide consulting services to the owner, not to give instructions to the constructor on means and methods of construction. Some of the more difficult claims that we have seen arose from projects where design professionals took responsibility for means and methods of construction by inserting themselves in the constructor’s business.
As you start enjoying the warmer weather, take stock of your projects that are in the construction phase and make sure that you are providing the services spelled out in your contract with care. We have resources on our website that provide detailed risk management guidance on construction phase risk management.