Company Culture and Architects’ Contractual Obligations

Architecture firm principals, managing partners, anyone who signs Contracts or Agreements:  Always give a copy of your Owner-Architect Agreement to your project architects, project managers and job captains at the beginning of the Schematic Design Phase.  If your construction contract administration team is made up of different people, give that team copies of your Owner-Architect Agreement at the beginning of the Construction Phase, at the very latest.  Give your team copies of your Architect-Consultant Agreements, too.  (If your firm keeps fee info confidential from employees, obscure those numbers.  But give them the documents!) 

When you give them the documents, tell them to read them!  Tell the construction contract administration team to read the Owner-Contractor Agreement, and the General Conditions of the Contract for Construction, as well as the Owner-Architect Agreement and Architect-Consultant Agreements. 

All of these documents spell out some of the Architect’s obligations.  Many emerging professionals are not familiar with all of the Architect’s typical obligations.  Those who haven’t yet begun the process of studying for their architectural registration exams may have no idea what’s contained in an Owner-Architect Agreement or in the General Conditions of the Contract.  But when these Agreements get executed, the Architect becomes legally responsible for performing the activities required by these Agreements.  If you have unlicensed people managing projects, you have to be especially explicit about the requirement that project managers are familiar with these documents, because they may have no way of knowing, except through your guidance.  (Remember, they’re interns, working under your direct supervision, learning how to be the architects of the future.)

If you don’t demonstrate to your employees the importance of these documents, some of them may never understand that they are contractually obligated to perform the exercises required by these documents! 

Attitudes about the importance of following through on contractual obligations come from the top.  The attitudes of the principals shape the company culture of the firm.  Do you want your firm to be known for following through on obligations?  Or do you want your firm to be known for having employees who aren’t sure what the firm’s obligations actually are?

2 thoughts on “Company Culture and Architects’ Contractual Obligations

  1. You’re absolutely right that all AE staff should read and understand the Owner-Architect agreement, and the General Conditions and Division 01 for that matter, for each and every project they work on. In our office no two projects have the exact same bundle of services or consultants. So you need to read the rules of the road before you draw a single line or edit a single spec section.

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