Improving the relationship between general contractors & architects/engineers (Tues Tip guest post)

The following is a Tuesday Tip guest post authored by the folks at Tools & Parts Direct, out of the United Kingdom.  The basic take away?  Good communication can save your project!

Disagreements between general contractors and architects are not only detrimental to the productivity of the project but can be costly as well.  As in any relationship, communication is the most important aspect and making sure that everyone is on the same page will go a long way towards the smooth flow of operations. Mutual respect is equally important for getting the job done without costly interruptions and blame shifting. By knowing the roles and responsibilities of each other, the relationship can be strengthened by complementing each other`s strengths and working together on any weaknesses. [Editor’s note: One way of ensuring good communication on the construction project is having a thorough, written scope of services for the designer, and thorough construction documents for the contractor.]

Since both the contractor and architect have their own distinct roles to fulfill in the building process it is important that they work together right from the start. This will prevent any confusion and avoid costly changes to the plans later on in the project. The contractor will also have enough time to point out to the architect what aspects of the plan might turn out to be impractical or impossible to implement.

When both the owner & the general contractor agree to keep the design team involved in the process during construction, this can help get the project built on time and under budget.  For example, instead stopping work to contact the architect over an unexpected site condition, it is often more efficient to simply keep the design team involved so that any field conditions can quickly be tackled together. This will eliminate, or at least minimize, tension where one party blames the other for mistakes; this type of tension often leads to a breakdown in communication, further costs, and even litigation between the parties.

It’s better if the architect & contractor avoid a boxing match!


Any changes suggested by contractor or the architect/engineer should be discussed first, and only after both the pros and cons have been weighted should a final decision be made. This will avoid situations where contractors feel like the architect is running the show or vice versa. Too much ego from either side will quickly sour the relationship and must be avoided at all costs.

Scheduling regular meetings on the site ensures that the owner can be sure that both parties are working in harmony. By having an open discussion with both the contractor and architect present, neither party will feel like anyone has gone behind their back and mutual solutions to problems can be discussed. Whether the argument is about unforeseen conditions, or site access, (almost) everything can be resolved with efficient communication.

Do you have a good story about a positive or negative relationship with a contractor?  Share your lessons learned in the comments section below.

Photo (c) The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas via Creative Commons.

The post you’ve been waiting for: Construction Law’s Official Policy on Guest Posts!

It had to happen sooner or later, I guess.  Folks have been coming out of the wood-work (yes, that’s a pun) to ask if I accept guest posts to my blog.  The short answer is yes, I do.  However, there are rules & considerations for such a post:

Wanted: a few good guest bloggers

1. The post must actually have a point.  Seriously, I’ve seen some pretty lame, SEO-based tripe.  If the article doesn’t have any meat on it, don’t bother sending it along.  [The post must also have no more than 2 requested hyperlinks, preferably in your introduction and not the article itself.]

2. The point of the post (see Rule 1) should benefit the construction community.  Bonus points if it actually speaks directly to architects and/or engineers.

3.  While you can ask me ahead of time if a certain topic would be appropriate, I reserve the right to not post your article if it doesn’t live up to 1 and 2, above.

4.  I may edit your post for grammar, spelling, punctuation, brevity, or content reasons.  By submitting an article to me for consideration, you expressly agree in advance to such editorial changes necessary to your work.

5.  If (and only if) you have a relevant & germane website of your own, a reciprocal link is appreciated.

6.  I attempt to use Creative Commons licensed photos for every post.  It’s helpful, although not a requirement, to submit a Creative Commons image with the article.  If you submit a suggested image (with appropriate link and credit info on the copyright holder), you make it much easier on me.  Easier on me = much more likely to post the article for you.  Got it?

7.  Believe it or not, in addition to being your blog editor/writer/bottle-washer-in-chief, I also have a law practice.  Sometimes it will take me a few days, or in some rare cases, even a week, before I can reply to your email.  Don’t take it personally, and feel free to remind me if you haven’t heard back.  I answer all non-spam email, but it may take awhile if I’m working out of town, in trial, or in depositions.  I’m not at all offended if you remind me of your pending request.

8.  Having no doubt scared off all wanna-be-guest writers with this post, I do actually welcome and appreciate well-written, helpful articles.  I will happily share my blog as a platform for those who have something meaningful to say.  In particular, folks in the industry– lawyers, architects, engineers, contractors, insurance reps– are almost always welcome to submit guest posts.

Any other questions?  Contact me and we can talk.  THANKS!

PS:  I’ll be placing this post on a separate blog page for easy reference after the original publication date.

 Photo: adapted from Vanagon Blog thru Creative Commons license.


A note of Thanks to my blog readers

turkey imageHappy Thanksgiving Everyone!  This Thanksgiving I am thankful for many things.  Among them: my loyal blog readers.  I hope that I continue to provide you each with timely, relevant information to make your practice just a little bit easier.

I’ll leave you with a link to the original debate over America’s national symbol, and how Benjamin Franklin thought the Turkey would have made a better choice over the American Bald Eagle.  What, then, would we eat on Thanksgiving?


Photo:  (c) Briar Press via Creative Commons license.

New NC Laws for Engineers, Architects, & other Construction Professionals (Tue Tip)

NC flag

Today’s Tip is a big one….. a turkey-sized offering in advance of Thanksgiving.   At least 19 new North Carolina laws that effect construction professionals were passed this legislative season.  They run the gamut, including public project bidding requirements, building permits, code issues, and the use of design-build building methods.  For a complete listing of each bill that may effect your practice, check out this Legislative Spreadsheet prepared by Harry Lancaster of Lancaster, Craig & Associates, a North Carolina-based government relations firm based in Raleigh.

Of particular note to Design Professionals:

Senate Bill 708/Session Law 2011-269 reconciles certain rules adopted by the Building Council relating to the January 1, 2012 effective date of certain portions of the 2012 Energy Conservation Code and the 2012 NC Residential Code.

House Bill 616/Session Law 2011-304, which modifies regulations for Engineers and Land Surveyors, including general requirements for licensure.

Check out the spreadsheet for the other construction laws.  You can go directly to the language of the laws from links on the spreadsheet.  Happy reading!

Photo:  Mr. T in DC via Flicker/CC. 

Pick Up the Phone! (Tues Tip)

phoneToday’s Tip is a simple one: Pick up the phone to ensure good communications on the construction project.  Too many of us naturally default to email or text message when communicating on the fly.  Without the tone of voice, however, many times things get misconstrued or taken out of context. 

I’m sure you’ve had the experience of emailing someone, and later learning they are mad or offended at something you said.  You thought the comment was innocuous.  They took it the wrong way.  Apologies were necessary; feelings were hurt.

While telephoning the other party can take more time, it keeps things on an even keel.  Tones can be “read” and misunderstandings can be cleared up right away. 

The next time you need to have a substantive communication with the Owner or Contractor, try the telephone.  You know, that email-checking/text-enabling device that is always with you?  It can telephone folks too.  Try it.

This post was in no way inspired by any misunderstood emails involving the author.  (Am I serious, or kidding? Hard to tell, isn’t it?).


Photo:  (c) Victor Manuel via Creative Commons license.



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