Appendix A
Professional Standards for Field Review/General Review


The terms “Field Review” and “General Review” are used interchangeably in various parts of Canada. They have the same meaning and force in law and form an essential component of the architect’s services during the construction phase of a project. For convenience, this service will be referred to in this document as field review.


The purpose of this appendix is to summarize:

  • the professional standards which the architect must maintain when performing field review services;
  • the scope of professional services required during field review;
  • the determination of the appropriate fee related to the agreed field review services;
  • recommended reporting formats.

Professional Standards

Successful contract administration means that the architect must effectively integrate the administration of the services provided in the office with field reviews carried out on the site. Regardless of which project delivery method is used, all architects must always follow best practices during field reviews because these services form a significant part of architectural services to the client.

The frequency, number and extent of field reviews required on a specific project are the prerogative and professional responsibility of the architect, who should resist any attempt by the client to dictate the number of visits or to limit the amount of fee for field review services. Substantial settlements (payments resulting from a claim) have resulted when architects have limited their field review visits under pressure from their clients. The courts have made it clear that there is an expectation that the architect will conduct a field review process that meets recognized professional standards, regardless of the fee, or, in the alternative, to withdraw from the project.

The architect’s aim should be to keep ahead of events on the site and to assist the construction process in running smoothly (which is clearly to the advantage of the owner, the architect and the contractor), in order to achieve the desired end result without undesirable compromises. The architect must identify to the contractor all specific events which require advance notification, particularly in relation to the scheduling of the portions of the work which will require:

  • pre-construction meetings;
  • special inspections or testing.

The architect must also monitor the work of consultants.

Scope of General Review Services

Services identified as “supervision” or “inspection” are not normally provided by an architect.

Field review, as defined in the client-architect contract, is intermittent, neither constant nor comprehensive:

  • field review is based on a systematic, random sampling of the work;
  • the architect is entitled to rely on the contractor’s consistency for the quality of the work.

The contractor, under contract with the client, has contracted to construct a building which is in general conformance with the contract documents. The ability of the architect to enforce this intent varies and depends on the type of project delivery method used:

  • the greatest level of control is under a stipulated price contract (such as CCDC 2);
  • the least control will likely occur when the client is an owner-builder, whose objectives may be restricted to quick completion at the lowest possible cost;
  • the various forms of construction management and design-build contracts fall between these extremes.

The two broad categories of field review services are:

  • Matters required by the building code:
    • These services are a regulatory requirement and they must be performed. The usual practice is for these services to be provided by the project’s architect, but others who are qualified to do so may be engaged by the client.
  • Contractual matters or “good practice”:
    • These are matters related to workmanship, appearance, accuracy, etc., and they go beyond the review required for code-related matters. These services should be set out in a schedule of the scope of services in the client-architect contract (Canadian Standard Form of Contract for Architectural Services – RAIC Document Six 2018).

Essential elements of field review for building code matters include:

  • site visits;
  • written reports;
  • changes to the work;
  • shop drawings;
  • coordination of consultants.

Elements of field review for “good practice” matters are similar, except that:

  • the architect will identify, as a matter of professional judgement, which shop drawings for non-code items will require review by the architect;
  • these elements should be predetermined and set out in the contracts between the client and contractor and between the client and architect (such as in the “Schedule of Architect’s Services” in RAIC Document Six).


  1. Review and bring to the attention of the chief building official all changes that may affect code compliance, including shop drawings for code-related matters that are at variance with the permit documents.
  2. Review and comment on shop drawings and samples for code compliance to determine general conformity with the design concept (the architect may also review shop drawings for non-code matters).

It is prudent to consider the impact on building code requirements of each proposed change and to obtain approval from the chief building official before finalizing change orders.

The architect is usually engaged to coordinate field review activities of other consultants (whether or not engaged by the architect) which include, for their respective disciplines:

  • site reviews;
  • written reports;
  • review and comment on the costs quoted for changes to the work;
  • shop drawings and samples.

See also “Appendix C – Checklist – Coordinating Consultants” in Chapter 2.3 – Consultants.

In some instances, the architect may be working under a prime consultant (another architect or a professional from another discipline) whose responsibilities will include coordination services for the project; in these circumstances the code requires the architect to co-operate with the prime consultant providing coordination of other consultants.


In the final analysis, the question of whether or not the architect has exercised appropriate professional judgement in attending at the site, including when or how often these attendances should have occurred, will be determined by a panel of the architect’s peers, in the case of complaints and discipline hearings, or by a judge or arbitrator, in a matter of a claim against the architect.