The most valuable advice for managing any project that can be given to an architect is “put it in writing.”
This statement applies equally to:
- formal documentation used in the administration of a construction contract;
- other forms of communication between the architect and client, subconsultants, manufacturers’ representatives, authorities having jurisdiction, bidders, general contractors, and testing and inspection agencies.
Accurate, comprehensive records of all communications with everyone with whom the architect discusses any aspect of the project must be made and kept in a readily retrievable filing system. A sample system is given in Appendix B – Project Filing System in Chapter 3.5 – Office Administration. This may be adapted to suit the needs of each individual architectural practice.
- prequalification advertisement as required;
- prequalification submissions as required;
- bid advertisement(s):
- CCDC 11, Contractor’s Qualification Statement as required;
- bid closing date extension announcement as required;
- construction contract, including any amendments and supplementary conditions;
- supplemental instructions;
- change orders;
- change directives;
- Certificates for Payment;
- substitutions and communications relating to substitutions;
- client-architect agreement and all agreements with subconsultants. This includes any scope changes and updates.
Other hard copy documents:
- minutes of meetings; may include:
- face-to-face meetings;
- telephone conference calls or video conferencing;
- in all cases, minutes are taken and issued, preferably within 48 hours of meeting, to all participants and other interested parties;
- recommendations made by architect and confirmation of client decision.
- transmittals for documents or for faxes;
- site instructions;
- desk diary;
- notes of telephone conversations.
- Fax transmission of documents is becoming an obsolete method of communication; however, it continues to be used, predominantly for reasons of security.
- teleconferencing, video conferencing, and web-based team applications;
- face-to-face communications;
Record everything in writing, dated and filed in an orderly, readily retrievable system.
In specific circumstances, the time a document is issued or received may also be significant, such as: issuing the last addendum just prior to the deadline identified in the Instructions to Bidders; receiving bids at the architect’s office.
Most fax machines and e-mail automatically record the time; however, if hand-written transmittals are used, time of issue or pickup should be recorded. A request for acknowledgement may be desirable for key issues.
Concise, written summaries of all voicemail messages and telephone and face-to-face conversations should be prepared as soon as possible and filed. Circumstances may warrant these written summaries and/or confirmations to be sent to other parties involved, particularly if they involve client directions which are contrary to an architect’s recommendations, or if they involve scope changes.
For ease of retrieval, use the same filing system format for hard-copy and electronic material. Generally, every e-mail sent or received should be filed. The only exception might be a series of e-mail exchanges leading up to a conclusion/instruction/confirmation. In this case only, it may be logical to retain only the original enquiry and the final resolution; if there is any doubt about whether an intermediate e-mail might become relevant in future, keep it.
Electronic records are more vulnerable to loss than hard-copy; therefore, it is essential that backup files are routinely and rigorously created, preferably each time a document is created or received. Make duplicate backup files and store them off-site.