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Posted on Tuesday, March 13, 2007 - 08:40 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Is there a world out there of self-employed construction contract administrators or Owners reps?
Don Harris CSI, CCS, CCCA, AIA
Senior Member
Username: don_harris

Post Number: 116
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Tuesday, March 13, 2007 - 10:14 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

We have worked with a number of Owners that are not design and construction savvy. They hire people to act as their reps in both the design and construction phase. Very similar, if not exactly like a CM Adviser.
George A. Everding, AIA, CSI, CCS, CCCA
Senior Member
Username: geverding

Post Number: 268
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Tuesday, March 13, 2007 - 10:47 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Banks and other lenders also hire CA consultants to represent their interests, usually at once a month pay request meetings. The consultant will do an onsite field review and photos, then attend the meeting, then send a field report to the bank.
Nathan Woods, CCCA, LEED AP
Senior Member
Username: nwoods

Post Number: 181
Registered: 08-2005
Posted on Tuesday, March 13, 2007 - 12:08 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I'm aware of a few firms that offer CA services to other architects, as an outsourced consultantcy. I've never worked with anyone in that capacity, but I would think it would be difficult. I would want that consultant to be embedded into my office for the duration of the project, but of course, very few projects can afford a full time 40-50 hour a week burn rate.

I'd like to hear from others that have tried to outsource CA and hear what worked and what didn't.
Ronald L. Geren, RA, CSI, CCS, CCCA, SCIP
Senior Member
Username: specman

Post Number: 413
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Tuesday, March 13, 2007 - 12:41 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I provide independent CA as a service, although nobody has taken me up on it yet (I've only been a consultant for 2-1/2 months). We'll see how things work out. The results of this thread may reveal some things I haven't considered, so I'm very interested in this discussion--it may affect whether or not I continue to provide that service.

I can see where it may be beneficial (out-of-town architect wanting someone local, or local architect not having sufficient staff, etc.), but like Nathan states, the CA consultant will need to be well integrated in the architect's fold.

Another concern is making decisions without consulting the architect. This will have to well established in the architect-consultant agreement. Limits of authority will need to be clearly outlined; especially if the CA consultant is not a registered professional.
Scott Parish (Unregistered Guest)
Unregistered guest
Posted on Monday, September 24, 2007 - 03:56 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

We use 2 independent consultants for our CA needs.

We began with one in-house CA and, after being dissapointed with prospects for hire, decided to use a man who had been a construction superintendent and state inspector. He came on as a consultant due to the uncertain nature of what things would look like a year down the road.

Our in-house CA man was then injured in a sports related accident and was out of commision for quite awhile. To help out, we asked another former contractor and state inspector we knew was reaching the end of his project to help us out. It has turned out that he has stayed with us.

Both these men are very well respected and knowledgeable in the field. Both know contractor "games". Our in-house CA man was not nearly so experienced...and thus was worth less compensation. When he came back to work, he wanted a healthy raise to match the other 2, which we weren't willing to give him, so he went elsewhere.

So we continue with two consultants, one working in our office, the other working out of an office at his home.

We keep close communication with both and have no major issues with using an out-of-office CA consultant. They both have different compensation arrangements - one by the project, the other a stipulated sum each month. We are moving to making them both stipulated sums.

As with any CA position, the abilty to make decisions is based on experience and trust. Over time, we have given both of these men have the authority to answer RFI's and make minor field decisions without first having to go through me or my partners. I do participate heavily in supporting them and providing direction on design changes and issues associated with cost or delay.

Bottom line is that we are paying good money in exchange for experience and knowledge. We want to keep these men and our arrangement works for both parties. We believe that the CA position is not the place to use cheap inexperienced labor.
David R. Combs, CSI, CCS, CCCA
Senior Member
Username: davidcombs

Post Number: 250
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Monday, September 24, 2007 - 04:33 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Something worth looking into: Some states require that only a licensed architect can perform CCA.

Check with the state licensing laws. In Texas, it does not have to be the design architect or the architect of record, but it does have to be a licensed architect.
John Regener, AIA, CCS, CCCA, CSI, SCIP
Senior Member
Username: john_regener

Post Number: 332
Registered: 04-2002
Posted on Monday, September 24, 2007 - 07:09 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I can understand the attraction of having a former contractor or former inspector performing CA. But from my sometimes tense and adversarial experience doing CA, it isn't the skills of someone who knows the nuts-and-bolts of construction that are so valuable as knowing construction contract documents (drawings and specifications, conditions of the contract, etc.) AND knowing how to preserve the design intent of the architect/engineer. This latter point is where former contractors and inspectors don't necessarily have strengths. Proposed changes may make sense from a cost or constructability perspective but cause an unacceptable compromise in the the design intent.

If the former contractor/former inspector had CCCA certification and an architectural background, it would be close to ideal.

Also note that the functions of contract administrator and inspector and not the same. In fact, I believe, they should be separate.
Tom Heineman RA, FCSI, SCIP
Senior Member
Username: tom_heineman

Post Number: 89
Registered: 06-2002
Posted on Tuesday, September 25, 2007 - 01:28 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Regener brings up a most important dimension: history of the project. If the CA has not been around while design decisions are being made, it will be all too easy to lose design essentials in the field.
The happiest projects for me were when I had prepared the specs - learning what needed special treatment - and then went out to build it knowing the rationale for client and design and budget needs that had been built into the documents. Even then, I regretted on many occasions not having checked to find out just why some things were shown the way they were.

A corollary to all this: The longer you do CA for an office the more you come to know its design drift, and the less likely you are to violate its corporate culture - or that of important clients.
Scott Parish (Unregistered Guest)
Unregistered guest
Posted on Wednesday, September 26, 2007 - 05:13 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

For the size of firm in which the number of projects preclude the principals of the firm or the project architect from performing all the CA, all the concerns raised by Regener and Heineman kick in. What is a firm to do? The step must be taken to hire other individuals to do the work. Who then is best suited?

We have 15 projects under construction at present. With 3 principal architects and 2 staff architects with plenty of design work on the plate, we just don't have capacity to deal with the day to day tasks of CA. We support our CA consultants with design input and drawing changes.

For us, the two men we use have worked with us for years in other capacities. They know our documents.

At the same time, both of these men can stand toe to toe with any contractor and hold their ground. THAT, is a critical element.

As far as design history, they don't have any and they know it. They don't try to make such decisions. I would venture to say that any office which finds itself needing full time CA people faces the same issues with in-house CA.

We have worked with both men on understanding what CA means from our side of the table - let the inspector do his job and don't play superintendent.
Nathan Woods, CCCA, LEED AP
Senior Member
Username: nwoods

Post Number: 219
Registered: 08-2005
Posted on Wednesday, October 10, 2007 - 05:50 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Scott, it sounds as if you have a good thing going there with those two gentleman, but ask yourself a question: Could you find a third person out there like that? I would think that its statistically improbable to find another good fit like that with those unique qualifications and firm familiarity.

I am a full time Construction Contract Administrator. That's all I do, and I know the role fairly well. I have been involved in the interview/hiring of many others applying for the same position.

The challenge has not been in finding willing people, but finding construction experienced people who are good at paperwork/administration, and have a passion for architecture. The ability to think like an architect is the hardest skill find. With that skill, they can be trusted to know when to ask the question of the design team that they do not inherently due to lack of project history.

Whether the person is a consultant, or direct in-house CA employee, those two elements are the most critical skill set needed. Far and away more important that construction knowledge.

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