I provide independent reviews of construction documents for Completeness and Coordination.
Change Orders are no fun. You may have experienced a few, and you may have come to expect a few on every project. Yet almost every new change order claim is unexpected and relates to needs or requirements you thought the project’s construction documents covered. Change order claims can result from information gaps or contradictions, where something that should be shown is not, or where a requirement in one place contradicts a requirement in another, even within the same drawing or specification section. Many claims may be based on a clear enough reading of the drawings and specifications: for example, you needed and wanted a diesel emergency generator, but the project specifications actually call for an emergency generator powered by natural gas, which is not available at the project site. Looking at such a claim, especially when the wrong generator has already been delivered, you are likely to wonder how natural gas found its way into the specifications, when you thought you had been perfectly clear with your project team that you needed and wanted diesel for the project.
Change orders – even for seemingly minor items – can be frightfully expensive on a large project, and even the most empathetic clients can become irritated at having to write checks to cover perceived boo-boos. For the Architect or Engineer, such change orders can become time-consuming and embarrassing distractions, and can be very difficult. Beyond embarrassment, they can adversely affect repeat business and referrals. Other issues related to the construction documents may go unnoticed during construction and may surface as post-construction problems.
An independent peer review of construction documents can highlight potential change orders and potential post-construction issues. The independent reviewer sees what the Architect drew or wrote without knowing exactly what the Architect thought to draw or write. As a fellow architect looking at construction documents, the independent reviewer may recognize the Architect’s design intent and be able to share useful observations about the documents to facilitate the Architect’s effective completion of the documents for bidding and construction.
I have been checking and reviewing architectural drawings (and related consultant drawings) and specifications for more than 45 years (since the late 1970s), including 30 years experience with Massachusetts public building projects. Experience with unexpected change orders and observations of post-construction issues have also sharpened my ability to spot gaps and inconsistencies in construction documents.
The extent of a peer review of construction documents depends on the budget for the review, the available review time, the condition and completeness of the drawings and specifications, and the agreed scope of the review. The project’s Architect maintains responsibility for the design and deciding how to proceed in response to review comments.
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