By Boyet Tejuco
Professionalism is the key to harmonious relationship. Based on the Architect’s Code of Conduct, architects have a moral obligation and “shall hold the client’s interest above his own.” Probably the worst practice in construction is the conspiracy between architects and contractors, especially when it comes to project cost and progress. These may result to manipulation of billings, inconsistencies of work schedule, and poor quality of work.
This is also one reason why it is ideal to have a separate architect and contractor. In doing so, clients are helping safeguard themselves and the architecture profession. As designer and representative of the owner, an architect uses his best judgment in decision-making. When an architect becomes both designer and builder, there is a danger that quality of materials and work may be sacrificed for cost.
There is no wrong or right answer, whether you are planning to hire an architect and contractor, or even assuming the construction supervision yourself. Owners will have to consider their resources and go with their instinct.
The client’s criteria When you hire an architect and a contractor, the criteria and means of looking for your candidate is common with other professions. He should be knowledgeable in his field, trustworthy, and loyal to the client. And this is something you will not find at face value.
Friends and colleagues would probably give referrals. You may even browse through newspaper ads, websites, and phone directories. From your choices, ask for their company profiles. Consider experience and expertise in relation to your requirements. You may opt to ask for a meeting to get to know your prospects more. Visit their completed or on-going construction projects.
If you have more candidates than necessary, you may narrow them down through bidding. Consider hiring a quantity surveyor or an engineer to do an estimate of your project. Use this as reference to compare submitted bids and see which is fair for you and the contractor. Note that the lowest bidder does not necessarily mean it is the best choice. If you have the time and patience, you can do your own estimate and ask suppliers for quotations.
Avoiding conflicts in construction Architects, contractors, and clients can maintain a good working environment if they want to. It starts with constant presence and good communication during meetings and site visits. The architect and contractor should remain sincere and vigilant in holding the owner’s welfare above their own. Invitations outside work like birthdays and other celebrations should not be venues for bribery and corruption.
On the other hand, clients should refrain from revisions especially when construction has already begun. Changes mean costs and delay. They should also be generous in giving out compliments to architects and contractors. This raises the group’s morale and spirit. Needless to say, they should also release payments on time. It is their money that makes all operations possible.