When it comes to architectural design and consulting, it's crucial to have a clear and detailed agreement in place between the architect and the client. This agreement outlines the specific services that the architect is offering to perform for the client. It also outlines the terms and conditions for these services, which the client must accept in order to proceed. However, it's important to note that unforeseen circumstances may arise before and during the construction process, and it's important to address these potential issues in a services agreement.
One common misunderstanding that clients may have is that the design plans submitted to the city will be approved without any issues. However, this is not always the case, and there may be unforeseen code or zoning conflicts that arise during the plan review process. There is no way for an architect to predict what issues may arise without at least completing some sort of preliminary investigation. Even still, without a design submitted to the city an architect has no way to ensure that designs will always get approved. Ultimately, it depends on how the plan is interpreted by plan checkers. A plan checker may tell an inquiring architect whether their design is “approvable”, but even in these cases designs are still rejected after a full review by the city. This is because it’s impossible for a plan checker to know what is permissible without complete drawings they can review. In order to ensure that these issues can be addressed efficiently and effectively, the agreement should include language outlining the process for addressing any unforeseen code or zoning conflicts that may arise.
Another common issue that may arise is that the construction site may contain unforeseen conditions, such as underground utility lines, contaminated soil, pre-existing support beams/columns, etc. Conditions like these would only be revealed once designs are approved and construction has begun. This is because the architect has no way of completing any sort of investigation that requires alteration to the existing structures or parcel. An architect will try to base their new design off how it’s assumed the existing structures are designed. Until there’s city approval to begin opening walls, excavating, demolishing, etc., there’s no way to predict whether there' that would prevent construction. Architects try their best to consider the common issues and occurrences when it comes to city approval, but clients must understand that the investigation portion of a project is always on-going. There are only so many preventative measures an architect can take to avoid unforeseen conditions and it depends on their experience level as well as the regulations within a given jurisdiction. These conditions can significantly impact the construction process and cost. To mitigate this, the agreement should include language outlining the process for addressing any unforeseen site conditions that may arise.
In addition, it's important to note that unforeseen changes to the design or scope of the project may also arise during the construction process. For example, the client may request additional changes to the design or scope of the project after the design plans have been submitted to the city. The agreement should include language outlining the process for addressing any changes to the design or scope of the project that may arise.
In summary, while it's important to have a clear and detailed agreement in place between the architect and the client, it's also important to address potential unforeseen circumstances that may arise before and during the construction process. This includes unforeseen code or zoning conflicts, unforeseen site conditions, and changes to the design or scope of the project. By addressing these potential issues in the agreement, along with discussions between the architect and the client, one can ensure that the project can proceed smoothly and efficiently.