A Note on “C.A.” – Administration of the Contract

We architects throw around the acronym C.A. pretty casually.  We all know it means the work that we do during construction of the building we designed.  But some of us think it means “Construction Administration.”  I used to think that, until I started paying better attention to contracts.  

AIA A201-2007 General Conditions of the Contract for Construction, refers to these services as “Administration of the Contract.”  The services architects provide during construction constitute “Construction Contract Administration.”  So, really, C.A. stands for “Contract Administration,” NOT “Construction Administration.”  As Ron Geren pointed out in an excellent blog post a few months ago,  http://specsandcodes.typepad.com/specsandcodes/2011/06/construction-administrationor-is-it.html the term “Construction Administration” really could be interpreted as meaning something more like “Construction Management” than “Administration of the Contract.”

Melissa Brumback’s post this morning prompted me to respond.  Except for the use of the term “Construction Administration,” her article is good, and has good advice for architects.  Check it out: http://constructionlawnc.com/2011/11/03/construction-administration/


12 thoughts on “A Note on “C.A.” – Administration of the Contract

  1. Pingback: The Declining Role of Architects in Representing Ownership Interests | AECforensics.com

      • The following is my reply to Brian Hill:

        The Owner also pays for, and must live with, the work of the CONTRACTOR. The Owner has one Contract with the Architect, and a separate Contract with the Contractor.

        The Architect does not have a Contract with the Contractor.

        The Architect does not have the legal ability to make sure that the Contractor’s work is in compliance with the Contract Documents. The Architect cannot obtain insurance coverage that will allow him to do this. The Contractor is the only party (PRIOR to litigation, anyway) who has the ability to make sure that his work is in compliance with the Contract Documents.

        Sometimes an Owner wishes to pay for a full-time project representative from the Architect’s office. AIA documents define this as an additional service. This more extensive representation by the Architect allows for the Architect to provide more continuous observation, but, just as with regular Construction Contract Administration, an on-site project representative is still not licensed or qualified to take on any of the Contractor’s responsibilities, or give the Contractor direction on means and methods or safety.

        The Contractor is responsible for complying with the requirements of his Contract with the Owner. He’s the only party (again, PRIOR to litigation) who can make sure he does that.

      • Sorry that didn’t show up right away! You’re comment is now posted along with my reply. Excellent points.

      • Another comment on Brian’s post on “The Declining Role of Architects…”:

        You’re right, of course – the Owner’s Rep or the Owner’s testing agencies or the Contractor’s testing agencies can verify compliance with certain aspects of the Contract Documents.

        I agree with you, and with Ron, that architects need to be taking a larger role in the built environment. However, I think that the way we do this is, as Ron says, we expand our “knowledge of building technology and construction documents” – we need to work on the stuff that has to happen BEFORE anyone picks up a hammer.

        We need to stop giving away the documentation and decision work (the way many architects give this work away to construction managers), and we need to get better at the documentation and decision work. We do not serve owners well if we hand the technical design and documentation reins over to contractors. WE ARCHITECTS need to be the people doing that work. This is the area where we need to hold onto, and expand, and take responsibility for, the role of the architect. As I posted on someone else’s blog recently, “Architects need to be the people practicing architecture. But in order to continue doing that competently and effectively, architects need to be focusing more on technical building knowledge. Architects as a profession are losing ground in the area of technical competency. Sometimes, it seems as if architects are trying to make up for that by relying on construction managers to fill in the technical gaps, but we’re the ones who are better suited to be doing that. Construction management delivery cannot be a replacement for lack of technical competency on the part of the architect. (We still have the professional liability for the technical aspects of those designs. If you don’t believe me, just ask the lawyers.)”

        My observation is that the construction documents that some architects issue are not very good. Different parts of the documents conflict with each other. Many design decisions haven’t been made by the time of the bid period, therefore many details that the bidders and constructors really need haven’t been drawn (there’s always more than one way to do things – but some architects think that “the Contractor will know how to do this” and he will, but he’ll do it one way or another, and probably not the way the architect intended).

        We don’t need to start doing the Contractor’s Quality Control – we have our own work to get better at. First, we need to improve upon those tasks which we are already legally responsible for (building technology and construction documents). After we, as a profession, have gotten much better at that, I’d love to talk with you about whether or not we should be inspecting the Contractor’s work!

        Thanks for the discussion, Brian!

  2. The start of your blog about the meaning of C.A. is exactly the reason why the CSI edcuation/certification program was called Certified Construction Contract Administrator or CCCA to eliminate any confustion about what it was about. Calling it Construction Administrator would have been totally inaccurate per the discussion above. Calling it Contract Administrator would mean it could mean the administration of any type of contract instead of being restricted to the administration of construction contracts.

    I would suggest that the identification for the responsibility and activity that should be promoted is Construction Contract Administration or CCA.

  3. Pingback: Construction, er make that CONTRACT, Administration services: a primer (law note) « Construction Law in North Carolina

  4. In addition to construction contract administration, BIM is another means by which architectural involvement in construction projects can be diminished, as BIM models are now extensively utilized by contractors, CMs and subs during project buy-out, shop drawing preparation and off-site fabrication. As with other technical innovations, some firms have embraced the process while the vast majority underutilize this powerful tool.

  5. Pingback: To the young woman starting CA | Emily Grandstaff-Rice AIA

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