Martin Pykalo Architect

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When are the Services of an Architect Required in British Columbia?

British Columbia law, through the Architects Act, mandates that persons who are not architects are prohibited from promoting or providing architectural services on projects which involve the following typologies and scope:

Public Assembly Occupancies (Group A – Part 3):

  • Any one-storey building with an unsupported span exceeding 9 m or gross area exceeding 275 m2
  • Any building of more than one storey with gross area exceeding 235 m2
  • All schools, any size

Hospital, Sanatorium, or Home for the Aged, Institutional (Group B – Part 3):

  • Any building (excluding veterinary hospital) with a capacity exceeding 12 beds
  • Any building with gross area exceeding 470 m2

Residential, Hotel or Similar Occupancy (Group C):

  • Any building containing 5 or more dwelling units
  • Any building containing 11 or more guest rooms

Commercial (Group D & E):

  • any building with gross area exceeding 470 m2

Industrial (Group F, F1 – Part 3):

  • any building with gross area exceeding 470 m2

Furthermore the British Columbia Building Code and/or the Vancouver Building Bylaw mandate that architects are required to be engaged for design and field review and to provide corresponding assurances on all Part 3 buildings (of any occupancy or size) and any Part 9 buildings with common egress systems and firewalls.

 

References: Information in this article is referenced from the following source.

British Columbia Architects Act

AIBC Bulletin 31: Buildings Requiring the Services of an Architect

 

 

 

Quality Assurance in the Delivery of Architectural Services

Achieving quality in the delivery of architectural services comprises two very different parallel processes. The design process is non-linear as it strives to respond to factors and challenges that are unique to every project. Quality management, on the other hand, is a very linear process that strives to apply standardized methods which are intended to consistently assure predictable outcomes. Given that the non-linear design process is so central to the delivery of projects, it is commonly believed that linear quality management approaches are a hinderance and are incompatible with project flow.

This however is a misconception. The design process can be successfully managed with the ultimate aim of achieving quality. In order to do so the project team need to understand what is required and be familiar with approaches that lead them to these goals. This is about communicating expectations transparently and clearly. As such, quality expectations need to be defined.

Planning for Quality Assurance

Ultimately client expectations establish quality goals on a project. These include the owner’s requirements and needs, as well as those of the authorities having jurisdiction over the project where code, bylaw and technical standards carry a prescriptive weight over the project. The design team must be completely versed in all of these factors before they begin the design process. Quality plans are often used to communicate the following factors:

  • Project details such as the address, contact information for all team members, etc
  • The client’s stated project requirements and program
  • The scope of services as defined in the contract
  • Applicable requirements of the authorities having jurisdiction over the project
  • Applicable best practices
  • Methods of measuring project success through thorough checking and verification procedures

Quality Assurance Checking

The checking and verification must occur before project documents are issued in order to verify that all factors which were identified in the quality plan have been addressed. This must be done every time a document is issued externally in order to assure a consistently accurate flow of information to all members of the project team. Usually this involves checking drawings and documents for completeness and coordination. In situations where documents are found to contain errors or omissions the project team works to make necessary corrections prior to the issue date.

Ultimately the delivery of architectural services is firmly rooted in quality. It is far easier to approach the question of how a project team achieves quality when all requirements are fully understood and verified. The process of Planning-Doing-Checking is known as quality management and in the broadest sense is the central core of what architects do.

 

Proposals for BCSPCA Facilities, Vancouver, BC, I worked on this project with Atelier Pacific Architecture in 2008.

Proposals for BCSPCA Facilities, Vancouver, BC, I worked on this project with Atelier Pacific Architecture in 2008.

How to Hire an Architect in British Columbia – Part Three: Make sure you get what you pay for!

The Contract

The agreement you enter into with your Architect is a complex document which strives to strike a reasonable balance between your and the Architect’s interests. The Architectural Institute of British Columbia mandates that services, responsibilities and General Conditions provided by Architects shall be based upon and generally consistent with those described in the most recent edition of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada’s Canadian Standard Form of Agreement between Client and Architect, also known as Document Six.
This template contract document sets out services that are consistent with industry standard construction contracts as well as provincial regulations governing the practice of Architecture. It describes services that are understood as necessary in the professional delivery of service.
Specifically Document Six defines the following terms:

Architect’s Services

The Architect’s services consist of those services performed by the Architect, the Architect’s employees, and the Architect’s Consultants. They include the provision of normal structural, mechanical and electrical engineering services by professional engineers when these Consultants are engaged by the Architect.
The Architect’s services include Consultant Coordination required to integrate all parts of the services.

Schematic Design Phase

The Architect shall:

  • review the program of requirements furnished by the Client and characteristics of the site;
  • review and comment on the Client’s Construction Budget in relation to the Client’s program of requirements;
  • review with the Client alternative approaches to the design of the Project and the types of construction contracts;
  • review applicable statutes, regulations, codes and by-laws and where necessary review the same with the Authorities Having Jurisdiction;
  • based on the mutually agreed upon program of requirements, schedule and Construction Budget, prepare for the Client’s review and approval, schematic design documents to illustrate the scale and character of the Project and how the parts of the Project functionally relate to each other; and
  • prepare and submit to the Client an estimate of probable Construction Cost based on current area or volume unit costs.

Design Development Phase

Based on Client approved schematic design documents and agreed estimate of probable Construction Cost, the Architect shall:

  • prepare for the Client’s review and approval, design development documents consisting of drawings and other documents appropriate to the size of the Project, to describe the size and character of the entire Project including the architectural, structural, mechanical, and electrical systems, materials and such other elements as may be appropriate;
  • prepare and submit to the Client for approval a revised estimate of probable Construction Cost, and
  • continue to review applicable statutes, regulations, codes and by laws as the design of the Project is developed.

Construction Documents Phase

Based on the Client approved design development documents and agreed estimate of probable Construction Cost, the Architect shall:

  • prepare, for the Client’s review and approval, Construction Documents consisting of drawings and specifications setting forth in detail the requirements for the construction of the Project
  • advise the Client of any adjustments to the estimate of probable Construction Cost, including adjustments indicated by changes in requirements and general market conditions;
  • obtain instructions from and advise the Client on the preparation of the necessary bidding information, bidding forms, conditions of the contract and the form of contract between the Client and the contractor; and
  • review statutes, regulations, codes and by-laws applicable to the design and where necessary review the same with the Authorities Having Jurisdiction in order that the Client may apply for and obtain the consents, approvals, licences and permits necessary for the Project.

Bidding or Negotiation Phase

Following the Client’s approval of the Construction Documents and the latest estimate of probable Construction Cost, the Architect shall assist and advise the Client in obtaining bids or negotiated proposals and in awarding and preparing contracts for construction.

Construction Phase – Construction Contract Administration

The extent of the duties, responsibilities and limitations of authority of the Architect as the Client’s representative during construction shall be modified or extended only with the written consent of the Client and the Architect.

During the construction phase – construction contract administration, the Architect shall:

  • be a representative of the Client;
  • advise and consult with the Client;
  • have the authority to act on the Client’s behalf to the extent provided in this contract and the construction contract documents;
  • have access to the Work at all times wherever it is in preparation or progress;
  • forward all instructions from the Client to the contractor;
  • carry out the Field Review / General Review of the Work;
  • examine, evaluate and report to the Client upon representative samples of the Work;
  • keep the Client informed of the progress and quality of the Work, and report to the Client defects and deficiencies in the Work observed during the course of the site reviews;
  • determine the amounts owing to the contractor under the construction contract based on the Architect’s observations and evaluation of the contractor’s application(s) for payment;
  • issue certificates for payment in the value proportionate to the amount of the construction contract, of Work performed and products delivered to the Place of the Work;
  • in the first instance, interpret the requirements of the construction contract documents and make findings as to the performance thereunder by both the Client and contractor;
  • render interpretations in written and graphic form as may be required with reasonable promptness on the written request of either the Client or the contractor.
  • render written findings within a reasonable time, on all claims, disputes and other matters in question between the Client and the contractor relating to the execution or performance of the Work or the interpretation of the construction contract documents;
  • render interpretations and findings consistent with the intent of and reasonably inferable from the construction contract documents; showing partiality to neither the Client nor the contractor; but shall not be liable for the result of any interpretation or finding rendered in good faith in such capacity;
  • have the authority to reject Work which does not conform to the construction contract documents, and whenever, in the Architect’s opinion, it is necessary or advisable for the implementation of the intent of the construction contract documents, have the authority to require special inspection or testing of Work, whether or not such Work has been fabricated, installed or completed;
  • .review and take other appropriate action with reasonable promptness upon such contractor’s submittals as shop drawings, product data, and samples, for conformance with the general design concept of the Work as provided in the construction contract documents;
  • prepare change orders and change directives for the Client’s approval and signature in accordance with the construction contract documents;
  • have the authority to order minor adjustments in the Work which are consistent with the intent of the construction contract documents, when these do not involve an adjustment in the contract price or an extension of the contract time;
  • furnish supplemental instructions to the contractor with reasonable promptness or in accordance with a schedule for such instructions agreed to by the Architect and the contractor;
  • determine the date of Substantial Performance of the Work;
  • receive from the contractor and forward to the Client for the Client’s review the written warranties and related documents;
  • verify the validity of the contractor’s application for final payment and issue a certificate of final payment; and
  • prior to the end of the period of one year following the date of Substantial Performance of the Work, review any defects or deficiencies which have been reported or observed during that period, and notify the contractor in writing of those items requiring attention by the contractor to complete the Work in accordance with the construction contract.

Construction Budget and Estimate of Probable Construction Cost

The Architect shall review and comment on the Client’s Construction Budget and shall prepare the estimate of probable Construction Cost as set out in this contract.
This service is often overlooked by many clients. It is however a standard service in the contract and the Architect’s fees include it.

Client’s Responsibilities

The Client shall provide:

  • full information regarding the requirements for the Project including a program setting forth the Client’s Project objectives, constraints, schedules, and criteria, including:
    • spatial and functional requirements and relationships,
    • flexibility and expandability,
    • special equipment and systems, and
    • site requirements;
  • a Construction Budget for the Project; and
  • information, surveys, reports and services as set out below, the accuracy and completeness of which the Architect shall be entitled to rely upon and such contracts for the provision of information, surveys, reports and services, whether arranged by the Client or the Architect, shall be considered direct contracts with Clients unless explicitly provided otherwise:
    • surveys describing physical characteristics, legal limitations and utility locations for the Project site, and a written legal description of the site and adjoining properties as necessary showing the following survey and legal information, as applicable: grades and lines of streets, alleys, pavements and adjoining property and structures; adjacent drainage; rights of way; restrictions; easements; encroachments; zoning; deed restrictions; boundaries and contours of the site; locations, dimensions and data pertaining to existing buildings, other improvements, and trees; and information concerning utility services, both public and private, above and below grade, including inverts and depths;
    • subsurface investigation and reports which include but are not limited to test borings, test pits, determination of soil bearing values, percolation tests, a list of and evaluations of toxic and hazardous substances and materials present at the Place of the Work, ground corrosion and resistively tests, including necessary operations for anticipating subsoil conditions, with reports and appropriate professional recommendations;
    • reports and appropriate professional recommendations of specialist Consultants when required by the Architect;
    • air and water pollution tests, tests for toxic and hazardous substances and materials, structural, mechanical, chemical, and other laboratory and environmental tests, inspections, laboratory and field tests and reports as required by the Architect, the Architect’s Consultants, the authorities having jurisdiction or the construction contract documents; and
    • all legal, accounting and insurance counselling services as may be necessary at any time for the Project, including such auditing services as the Client may require to verify the contractor’s applications for payment or to ascertain how or for what purpose the contractor uses the monies paid by or on behalf of the Client.

 

References: Information in this article is referenced from the following source.

Royal Architectural Institute of Canada’s Canadian Standard Form of Agreement between Client and Architect

Rogers Centre (Skydome) concourse renovations, Toronto, ON, I worked on this project with Brisbin Brook Beynon Architects and it was completed in 2006.

Rogers Centre (Skydome) concourse renovations, Toronto, ON, I worked on this project with Brisbin Brook Beynon Architects and it was completed in 2006.

Would you like to avoid common BC building project problems?

Everyone knows that complex building projects are prone to delays, disputes and deficiencies, accepting that these are an unfortunate result of the complexity inherent in the design and construction process. However not many people know that there are several approaches available to the way in which projects are delivered and that certain approaches are more prone to process issues than others.

The traditional Design-Bid-Build approach has the owner procure the services of an architect and support engineers who produce the contract documents. Once these documents are completed they are circulated to contractors for competitive bidding and a contract is awarded to the best respondent.
This method has many advantages including the fact that construction (which is the most costly portion of the process) is bid competitively with fully developed documents and therefore allows for a very clear comparison between bids. Also this approach is easy to manage as it is universally understood.
The downside of this approach is that the design process forgoes the positive input contractors can have on the project. Also it is virtually impossible to cover off all eventualities in the bid documents which often leads to multiple change orders that add cost or delay the project.

There is another very different approach that avoids most problems inherent in the Design-Bid-Build process. It is known as Design-Build. Here the one company is hired to design and build the project. In fact they can be a single company with in-house design and construction capabilities, or multiple companies who work together under one contract to the owner under the leadership of the design builder. Either way what differentiates the Design-Build process is that the owner contracts with one entity who complete all aspects of the project for them.

Advantages of Design-Build

Design-Build offers numerous advantages over the traditional Design-Bid-Build project delivery model. The advantages include:

  • Shortened Project Duration due to the fact that construction work can begin before the design and documentation process commences. Since the total project price is fixed the base building systems such as the foundations and the superstructure can be constructed while the fine details are still being finalized.
  • Only none party is responsible for the project and answers to the owner. Is is in contrast to the usual issues associated with traditional projects where designers and contractors often point fingers at each other whenever issues are not fully resolved.
  • No grounds for extras due to the fact that the overall project cost is fixed from the outset. An exception to this is when owners opt to request project changes after the initial scope is defined and agreed upon.
  • Clear and established communication between the designers and the constructors are also an important feature of Design-Build.

Types of Design-Build Arrangements

There are three main types of Design-Build arrangements. These include:

  • Contractor led Design-Build, where the contractor enters into a contract with the owner and retains the services of the Architect and other design consultants.
  • Project manager led Design-Build, where a separate project management Design-Build entity is hired to complete the project. This entity will in turn retain the services of contractors, the Architect and the design consultants.
  • Architect or consultant led Design-Build where the architect is hired to complete the full project and is retains the services of contractors.

Should you hire a Design-Builder for your project?

There are potential pitfalls associated with the Design-Build approach. These include the loss of certain controls that are present in traditional delivery models. For example, where design consultants are retained separately, their focus remains on assuring that construction complies with the design. Also the owner may lose some influence over the design as the designers will tend to work toward the global budget agreed upon in the initial contract.

Ultimately the decision to pursue the Design-Build approach usually rests on the advantages. Most large scale commercial, institutional and government projects are either Design-Build or some sort of hybrid derivative. The biggest benefit is the collaborative input of all project team members during the design process. Also including contractors in early phases where key decisions are made gains their buy-in and reduces the potential for problems during construction.

The Contract

The Canadian Construction Document Committee has developed a set of standard industry contracts which enable the Design-Build approach in Canada. They have produced contract documents specifically suited to Design-Build projects in Canada. The following information is taken directly from the CCDC website:

CCDC 14 – 2013 Design-Build Stipulated Price Contract Standard prime contract between Owner and Design-Builder where the Design-Builder performs Design Services and Construction under one agreement, for a single, pre-determined stipulated or fixed price.

CCDC 15 – 2013 Design Services Contract between Design-Builder and Consultant Standard contract between Design-Builder and Consultant to perform the design services required under a design-build contract between Owner and Design-Builder.

 

References:

The Canadian Construction Document Committee

 

Schulich School of Business, York University, Toronto, ON, I worked on this project with Hariri Pontarini Architects and it was completed in 2003.

Schulich School of Business, York University, Toronto, ON, I worked on this project with Hariri Pontarini Architects and it was completed in 2003.

How to Hire a Contractor in British Columbia – Part Three: The Formal Procurement Process

Once you have reduced your list of potential contractors down to three or four proponents you will need to ask them to submit proposals for constructing your home or building. This is a very important step in the course of your project. It is where most of your costs, the overall quality, and the schedule will be contractually fixed.

In order to call for bids you will need to provide the proponents with very clear, complete and coordinated bid documents that fully describe the scope of work. Furthermore, your bid documents will need to describe what is needed to assure compliance with requirements posed by authorities having jurisdiction over your project, including building code compliance. These
documents are comprised of two distinct categories of information: the bidding documents and the contract requirements. The bidding documents describe the rules governing the preparation, submission, receipt and acceptance of bids. While the contract requirements are the actual administrative and technical parameters the contractor will need to fulfill in the course of completing the project.
An Architect, along with the engineering/specialist consultant team, and your lawyer, will assist you in preparing these documents as part of their professional services on the project.

With your list of preferred contractors and the bid documents ready you will be able to begin the formal procurement process. Presuming you already know that all of your preferred contractors are able to successfully construct the project, the only remaining unknown will be the price of construction. As such your aim will be to choose the lowest bidder.

Legal Principles Over Competitive Bidding

The bidding process replaces negotiation between the owner and the contractor. The law of competitive bidding is unique to Canada and it confers rights and obligations to all parties where an owner receives binding offers simultaneously from multiple bidders for the same work.

In general, the bidding process proceeds through a sequence of two distinct contracts known as Contract A (the bidding contract) and Contract B (the actual construction contract). Contract A is created between the owner and each bidder that submits a compliant bid. Once the owner accepts a particular bid the bidder is obligated to enter into Contract B in accordance with the terms of their bid. In turn the owner is obligated to treat all bidders fairly and equally in line with the terms of the bid documents.

 

The Bidding Documents

The bidding documents are normally composed of several key components including:

Bid Solicitation Letter – a letter of invitation which is sent to invited bidders. It includes:

    • The name and location of the project.
    • Name of the owner.
    • Brief description of the work.
    • Time and place for receiving bids.
    • How and where to obtain the bid documents.
    • Bid security requirements.
    • Special qualification requirements.
    • Use of a bid depository if applicable.
    • Location and time of the mandatory pre-bid meeting if one is scheduled.

Instructions to Bidders – This document specifies the bidder’s and owner’s rights and obligations with respect to the bid call. It includes:

    • Owner’s legal name and address.
    • Telephone numbers, fax numbers, and emails of the person authorized to receive enquiries.
    • Time and place for receiving bids.
    • How and where the bid documents will be received.
    • Procedures for how bidder’s proposed product substitutions may or may not be considered during the bid period.
    • Instructions for method, form and completeness of bid submissions.
    • Instructions for methods of modifying bids prior to bid closing time.
    • Number of days the bid is to be irrevocable and open for acceptance by the owner. Usually 30 days.
    • Disclosure of criteria and preferences that will be applied in selecting the successful bidder.
    • The means by which bid documents may be modified through addenda.
    • Confirmation of the owners intent to respond to common bidding irregularities such as receiving late bids, missing signatures etc.
    • Any special rights the owner reserves such as the privilege not to accept any bid under special circumstances or to negotiate with the lowest bidder in the event of changes to the project (for instance financing problems that come up during the bidding process).
    • Type and amount of required bid security.
    • Requirements for pre-bid meeting attendance.
    • Requirements for use of a bid depository.
    • Any mandatory qualification requirements.
    • Instructions relating to submissions of alternative, unit or itemized prices.
    • Basis for determining the lowest bidder when alternative prices are requested.
    • Any unusual process requirements.

Information Made Available to Bidders

All pertinent site conditions need to be revealed to the bidders. These include:

    • Site geotechnical reports.
    • Surveys.
    • Information on existing buildings or structures.
    • Environmental assessments, permits and approvals.
    • Toxic and hazardous materials locations and data.
    • Easements and other site restrictions.

Bid Form and Bid Form Supplements

The bid form is project specific and includes information such as:

    • Name and location of the project.
    • Bidder’s company name.
    • Bidder’s address and contact information.
    • Owner’s name and address.
    • Bidders declarations such as price, agreement to perform the work and schedule.
    • Supplements such as the list of subcontractors, alternate prices and substitutions.

 

Contract Requirements

The Agreement

The Canadian construction industry employs a series of standard agreement documents for most methods of construction delivery. These documents are well established and have been developed over many years in consultation with the Canadian Construction Association, Construction Specifications Canada, the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, and the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies – Canada. They are developed to be fair in representing the interests and obligations of all involved parties as well as adherence with legislative requirements. The standard documents include:

CCDC 2 – 2008 Stipulated Price Contract Standard prime contract between Owner and prime Contractor to perform the required work for a single, pre-determined fixed price or lump sum, regardless of the Contractor’s actual costs.

CCDC 3 – 1998 Cost Plus Contract Standard prime contract between Owner and prime Contractor to perform the required work on an actual-cost basis, plus a percentage or fixed fee which is applied to actual costs.

CCDC 4 – 2011 Unit Price Contract Standard prime contract between Owner and prime Contractor to perform the required work for a pre-determined, fixed amount for each specified unit of work performed. The total price is determined by multiplying the unit price by the actual, measured quantity of work performed for each specified unit.

CCDC 5A – 2010  Construction Management Contract For Services Standard contract between Owner and Construction Manager for which the Work is to be performed by Trade Contractors.  The Construction Manager acts as a limited agent of the Owner providing advisory services and administering and overseeing the contracts between the Owner and Trade Contractors.

CCDC 5B – 2010  Construction Management Contract For Services and Construction Standard contract between Owner and Construction Manager to provide advisory services during the pre-construction phase and perform the required Work during the construction phase.  At the outset, the Work is performed on an actual-cost basis, plus a percentage or fixed fee which is applied to actual costs.  The parties may agree to exercise the following options: Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP), GMP Plus Percentage Cost Savings, and conversion into a Stipulated Price Contract.

CCDC 14 -2013 Design-Build Stipulated Price Contract Standard prime contract between Owner and Design-Builder where the Design-Builder performs Design Services and Construction under one agreement, for a single, pre-determined stipulated or fixed price.

CCDC 17 – 2010  Stipulated Price Contract for Trade Contractors on Construction Management Projects Standard contract form between Owner and Trade Contractor to perform the Work for a single, pre-determined fixed price, regardless of the Trade Contractor’s actual costs.  It is specifically for use where the project is performed under the CCDC 5A Construction Management method of contracting.

Supplementary Conditions

Any additions, deletions, or other modifications to a CCDC form should be clearly identified.

General Requirements

Division 1 of the project specifications manual. This will include:

    • Summary of the work.
    • Restrictions that will affect construction operations.
    • Scheduling and phasing requirements.
    • Payment procedures and cash allowances.
    • Administrative requirements.
    • Temporary facilities and controls.
    • Broadly applicable quality requirements.
    • Broadly applicable product and execution requirements.
    • Other issues that affect the overall work.

Technical Specifications

Written specifications describing the technical requirements of the project. These describe detailed quality and performance requirements for products and for the execution of various parts of the work

Drawings and Schedules

Drawings are a graphic depiction of the scope of work, including locations and size of all components. Schedules are a useful method of depicting quantities and typologies of building components such as doors, windows, finishes, paint colours etc.

Addenda

Modifications made to the bid documents after they were issued for bidding.

 

Calling for Bids

There are two general methods of calling for bids. The Open Bid Call and the Invitational Bid Call. Open Bid Calls are publicly advertised and open to all proponents. Invitational Bid Calls are open to preselected bidders.

Bidder Inquiries and Issuing of Addenda

It is essential that all bidders base their bids on identical information and that this information is made available to them at the same time. As such responses to bidder enquiries must be distributed through formal addenda which supplements or compliments the bid documents.

Receiving Bids

All bids should be received in a single location specified in the bid documents. They should be received by the person designated to do so in the bid documents and should be time stamped upon receipt. Late bids should always be considered non-compliant, while bid modifications or withdrawals should be allowed (unless specifically disallowed in the bid documents) prior to closing time.

Contract Award

Prior to contract award all bids should be evaluated for compliance with the requirements indicated in the bid documents. According to the law of competitive bidding non-compliant bids should be rejected.
All compliant bids must be evaluated fairly according to the criteria in the bid documents and no undisclosed preferences are to be applied. The contract should be awarded to the bidder with the most suitable bid, most often the lowest price.

 

Past Tips:

Part One: Are you Covered?

Part Two: Qualities to Look For
References: Information in this article is referenced from the following sources.

Listing of CCDC Documents

CCDC 23 – 2005 A Guide to Calling Bids and Awarding Contracts

 

University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Renovations to the Wesbrook Building Laboratories. I worked on this project with ABBARCH Architecture and it was completed in 2012.

University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Renovations to the Wesbrook Building Laboratories. I worked on this project with ABBARCH Architecture and it was completed in 2012.

 

How to Hire an Architect in British Columbia – Part Two: How to Find and Interview Potential Architects

Finding an Architect

Choosing the right Architect is likely the most critical project decision you will make. Once everything is completed and your building is fully occupied you will measure its success against the criteria that you define with your Architect early on in the process.

Your Architect will guide you through the design and construction phases of the project. They will focus their efforts on realizing your stated objectives while helping you steer through regulatory approvals and the intricacies of your construction contract. They will serve as your advisor, coordinator, technical resource and artist. In order to fully meet all of these obligations you will need to make sure that your chosen Architect has the necessary education, experience, talent and capacity to help you achieve a high quality project within your budget and on schedule.

So how does one find the right Architect?

First of all, in British Columbia an Architect must be registered with the Architectural Institute of British Columbia. In order to practice they must also hold a current Certificate of Practice. The AIBC keeps a current list of all Architects registered to practice in British Columbia. It is a good idea to check whether your prospects are included in this list.

The process of finding an Architect will take some time… perhaps a couple of weeks to a month. During this time you will need to focus your efforts on researching possible leads. Approach your friends and colleagues to see if they know anyone who recently had a positive experience with an Architect. You may also approach home or building owners of comparable recently completed projects. Contractors are a very great resource as they will know many Architects. The internet is a very useful tool. You will likely be able to connect with a few Architects through your extended networks on sites such as Linkedin or by contacting them through their websites. Above all else, search for Architects with portfolios that align with your project goals. Pay particular attention to the complexity, attention to detail, and style of their past projects.

Once you have narrowed down your list of contenders to three or four individuals (or firms) you will need to interview all of them. Keep in mind that they will also be interviewing you so go prepared with as much information as possible.

The Interview Process

The interviews will include discussion, raising awareness, review of information, acquiring preliminary understanding and articulating characteristics of the project. The purpose being a full understanding and agreement on a responsible scope of services, under mutually acknowledged terms of reference, for appropriate professional remuneration.

Your discussions will cover issues such as:

  • Whether other Architects are or were previously involved with your project. This issue is important because Architects are not allowed to supplant another Architect on the same project.
  • The broad understanding of the type, size scope and complexity of the project. Owners will often retain an Architect to perform Pre-design Services which help them define the project requirements. This is normally considered a separate service because the outcome forms the basis of understanding of the overall project’s scope of work. Often owners will hire an Architect to complete the pre-design work and then ask them to compete against other Architects for the remainder of the project.
  • The Architect’s applicable experience and review of past projects.
  • Whether the Architect has the ability to provide professional services for the project including: their professional competence; availability; and access to appropriate resources.
  • Whether they carry the required level of professional liability insurance (if applicable).
  • Required Zoning and Development approval requirements. Other potential requirements of authorities having jurisdiction over the project.
  • Project budget, financing and funding issues.
  • Project economics and feasibility.
  • Social and community issues.
  • The environmental impact.
  • Possible heritage designations.
  • Required appropriate professional (architectural and other) services, including sub consultants such as structural, mechanical and electrical engineers. Who will retain them and how the team will be structured.
  • The anticipated method of construction delivery and in turn the appropriate type of professional services agreement.
  • How professional fees will be calculated. How fees and expenses will be handled. The mechanisms for invoicing and payments.
  • Copyright issues, ownership and use of the design and project documents.

Assuming all required information is available at the conclusion of the interview, the Architect will be able to prepare the professional services agreement for your review and approval. It is important to note that the process of retaining an Architect is complex and your ultimate decision will be influenced by many factors. You will need to assess all of your options and select your Architect based on whether they fit your needs and are able to provide the best overall value.

Past Tips:

Part One: What do you need to build?

Coming up:

Part Three: Make sure you get what you pay for!

References:

AIBC Bulletin 90: Minimum Scope of Architectural Services

AIBC Tariff of Fees for Architectural Services

Orientation Centre at the Martyrs’ Shrine, Midland, Ontario. I was involved in the design of this project with Joseph Bogdan Associates Architects in 2004.

Orientation Centre at the Martyrs’ Shrine, Midland, Ontario. I was involved in the design of this project with Joseph Bogdan Associates Architects in 2004.

10 Tips to Reduce the Cost of Your British Columbia Building Project – Tip Two: Require Firm Fees and Pricing

The importance of matching your project team’s work with your requirements and goals cannot be overstated. Obtaining fixed fees and prices for services that are specifically catered to your needs will allow you to plan the project financial course while also giving you piece of mind that the process remains fully controlled.

In this article we look at value focused fixed fees and pricing that you should expect from your Architect, Sub-Consultants and General Contractor. We will also the negotiation process to help you achieve appropriate fees..

Architectural Fees

First of all, it must be noted that architectural practice in British Columbia is founded upon the requirement that an Architect must be retained and in receipt of the client’s instruction before providing service. This is a legal requirement which stipulates that a contract be in place before any work on the project begins.

So how do Architects calculate their fees?

In my years developing fee calculations on architectural projects ranging between $50,000 and $200M, I have come to understand that clients do not get the best value for their money when architectural fees are based on the amount of time their Architect spends working on the project. Unfortunately this is how most Architects calculate their fees. The reason for this is quite simple, hourly ‘bottom-up’ calculations relate directly to the way in which Architects cover their own expenses and therefore make a lot of sense from the Architect’s perspective. It is easy for Architect’s to define marked-up billable categories for all staff and then to project how much time each one of them will take to complete the work. As a final measure Architects will usually cross reference their resultant fee number against the AIBC Tariff of Fees for Architectural Services to make sure it is in line with industry norms. Once done they submit this to the owner and hope they are not underbid by another Architect.

The problem with this approach is that it does not relate the fee to your needs. It relates the fee to the Architect’s needs and is therefore quite arbitrary. When viewed from the perspective of service quality it is difficult to believe that an Architect charging $200 per hour will always provide twice the value of an Architect who charges $100 per hour. In reality it really depends on project specifics, the Architect’s experience, and what the desired outcome is.

Why should you care what the Architect’s overhead costs or profit goals are? You, as the owner, care about the value your Architect’s services provide and whether the final outcome is a profitable success.

In order to arrive at an appropriate fee you will need to work with your Architect to clearly articulate the exact nature of the problem you face and where you want to be once the project is complete. Your Architect needs to understand these constraints in order to come up with a plan that will get you to where you want to be. They also need this understanding to define an appropriate fee that leverages their experience to achieve what is needed.

Once the true fee number is known a fixed fee contract can be drawn up and signed.

Sub-Consultant Fees

Consultant fees are often built into the Architect’s fee. There are numerous reasons for this, one of the most important being the fact that the Architect is responsible for coordinating all Sub-Consultants work. Due to this, Architects will usually prefer to carry Sub-Consultant fees as it makes the coordination process much easier because it correlates with the business relationship.

Having said that, the Architect remains responsible for all coordination no matter what the business arrangement is. It is important for you to know that you can retain the services of all Sub-Consultants directly through a similar value focused approach as that which you use to retain the Architect. This approach allows you to assure best value is achieved for your investment.

There are a few issues you will need to keep in mind if you chose to proceed in this manner. Your Sub-Consultants will need to be engaged with input from your Architect as they will need to know the scope of the project that has been defined in your Client-Architect agreement. Once these issues are understood you will be able to define the fixed terms of your agreements with the Sub-Consultants.

General Contractor Fees and Prices

Most of the costs presented by General Contractors will be dictated by Sub Contractor trade bids. The General Contractor will also include a management fee as well as their own profit allowance.

You will need to work with potential General Contractors to arrive at an appropriate fee that fairly relates to the value of work provided. Your Architect and Sub-Consultants will usually assist you in this process.

 

Value based fees are a very equitable means of compensation that is increasingly popular amongst legal and financial consultants. It is a means of establishing a strong partnership with your consultants where their contribution is seen as an investment toward achieving your anticipated gains.

Under this approach, your Architect and Sub-Consultants stand to gain in proportion to the value the project achieves. As such they will need to work with you to establish the true viability of the venture before any work begins. With their input, you will gain a much clearer understanding of the potential project risks and rewards, as well as certainty that their fees remain directly related to their contribution. This, in turn, will allow you to start the project with great certainty in its success.

 

 

Past Tips:

Tip One: The Value of the Right Team

Coming up:

Tip Three: Get it In Writing;  Tip Four: Allow Time to Plan it Thoroughly;  Tip Five: Design Efficiently;  Tip Six: Regularly Review and Approve all Work;  Tip Seven: Be Covered;  Tip Eight: Understand Product Warranties;  Tip Nine: Enforce Your Rights During the Process;  Tip Ten: Take Advantage of Available Incentives

References:

The Architects Act

AIBC Tariff of Fees for Architectural Services

2003 BSS 01

The Bishop Strachan School, Toronto, Ontario. I was involved in the design, documentation and construction contract administration of this project with Joseph Bogdan Associates Architects. It was completed in 2004.

 

 

 

 

 

How to Hire a Contractor in British Columbia – Part Two: Qualities to Look For

There are several issues owners need to consider before beginning the formal construction contract procurement process. Some of these will be reviewed with your Architect early on in the design process. They may include the form of project delivery, the type of construction contract as well as the method of awarding the contract. These critical elements affect the design process itself, as well as the scope of Architectural services, and therefore need to be settled upon before the architectural fee is established.

We will discuss the procurement process in part three of this series. In this article we will focus on general contractor traits to look out for. The process of identifying contractors who exhibit most, if not all, of these traits will let you establish a short-list of pre-selected potential bidders. The advantage of doing this is that most likely the only remaining determining factor will be the price, greatly simplifying your final winning bid selection.

Traits and qualifications to look out for:

Excellent References – It is important to work with your Architect to identify contractors who are capable to successfully complete your project. You may also seek recommendations from within your own network. Once you have a list of contractors contact all of them and ask for referrals and then contact previous clients to discuss their experiences in private. Some of the questions you may ask may be:

  • How did the contractor handle problems?
  • Did they keep the team informed?
  • Was the contractor a good team player and did they get along with the other team members?
  • Was the project completed on budget and on schedule?
  • Did their work meet your quality expectations?
  • Did they respond to warranty issues?
  • Was it a pleasant working relationship?

Efficiency and Time Management Skills – This is a very important category to consider in your selection. The general contractor will be your main construction project manager. They will be responsible for the daily construction process oversight, including managing of the trades and suppliers, information flow to all team members as well as scheduling, coordination, and site safety assurance. Essentially they are responsible for the “How” on the project, while your Architect and Engineers are responsible for the “What”.

Given all this is is imperative that your contractor is very organized. look out for well established procedures and a systematic approach to daily operations.

Good Communication Skills – While clear and efficient project information flow is essential during all project phases, it is especially critical during construction. With a continuous flow of time sensitive questions, answers, requests and approvals that constantly flow between team members, it is important for your contractor to have a proven track record of effective communication through well established procedures and systems.

How are their other Construction Projects run? Is is a good idea to visit a few of your likely proponents’ construction sites to see them in action. It will also be a good idea to bring your Architect along as they will be very accustomed to the construction environment and will be able to spot possible trouble areas.

Doing your homework will go a long way in assuring that you are inviting the right general contractors to join your project team. This trait identification process will allow you to quickly spot general contractors who fit within your chosen project drivers. Once you become familiar with how various local contractors operate you will be in a position to easily pre-select the right ones for your project.

 

Coming up:

Part Three: The Formal Procurement Process

2009 LDS Calgary 11

LDS Temple in Calgary, Alberta. I worked on this project with ABBARCH Architecture over a four year period. It was completed in 2012.

10 Tips to Reduce the Cost of Your British Columbia Building Project – Tip One: The Value of the Right Team

The value of using the right Architect, Engineering Consultants and Contractor:

Architects have the experience, education, and vision to help you obtain best value for your investment while also making the construction process as easy as possible. No matter what kind of project you have in mind, it is highly advisable that you meet with an Architect who is a registered member of the Architectural Institute of British Columbia before you begin the design process. They can help you define the actual scope of your project and assemble the best project team who will focus on practical solutions to your unique challenges. Working with the right team will also offer something more… they will all share a dedication to creating successful communities, work places and homes.

Know When You Need an Architect & Engineers: 

In general British Columbia law requires that an Architect registered with the Architectural Institute of British Columbia be retained on all building projects except for simple Part 9 structures such as small homes and additions. Similarly, Engineering services are required to be provided by an Engineer registered with the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia on most projects except for simple Part 9 structures. You should check with the municipality for the latest requirements before starting work on a Part 9 Building project. Some municipalities may require the engagement of engineers on all projects.

Due diligence when hiring an Architect, and the Engineering Consultants:

There are numerous traits to look for when assembling your team of project professionals. Ask your family, friends and colleagues whether they can recommend an Architect or Engineer. Referrals are a very good starting point. You can also check the AIBC website for a listing of local architects. Once you have narrowed down your list of contenders it’s a good idea to meet with them to discuss your project. This will allow you to understand their areas of expertise, methodologies and design styles. Lastly, if your project scope is well defined it is a good idea to get two or three fee proposals to make sure that proposed fees are in line with industry norms. If, on the other hand, you do not have the scope of work fully defined, or you don’t fully understand what can be built within your budget, it may be necessary to retain an Architect to help define these factors.

 

Coming up:

Tip Two: Require Firm Fees and Pricing;  Tip Three: Get it In Writing;  Tip Four: Allow Time to Plan it Thoroughly;  Tip Five: Design Efficiently;  Tip Six: Regularly Review and Approve all Work;  Tip Seven: Be Covered;  Tip Eight: Understand Product Warranties;  Tip Nine: Enforce Your Rights During the Process;  Tip Ten: Take Advantage of Available Incentives

 

References:

BC Building Code

The Architects Act

1997 70 Brompton 01

Office Building at 70 Brompton Road in London UK. I was involved in the design and documentation of this building while working at Zeidler Partnership Architects

How to Hire an Architect in British Columbia – Part One: What do you need to build?

Typically your working relationship with an Architect will begin with a process of identifying the required services to successfully complete the project. Here all available and missing information should be identified, and only once the overall picture is understood will it be possible to fully determine the required scope of professional services, and in turn, to determine the terms of your professional services agreement.

In my “How to Hire an Architect in British Columbia” series we will focus on the information that needs to be gathered in order to define the scope of professional services. In this first part, we will look at the Functional Program (also known as the ‘Brief’) which is the research and decision making process that identifies what exactly needs to be designed, as well as the inter-relationships between these elements.

While sophisticated institutional Clients have their programatic information available before they seek architectural services, most Clients need their Architect’s help in order to define the Functional Program. In such situations the Client and the Architect will need to enter into a short term agreement that covers what is known as the Pre-design Phase. Given that the extent of work involved is nearly impossible to quantify upfront, such agreements are usually based on per diem (daily) or hourly compensation.

Clients who commit to a complete functional programming exercise know that this is a very good investment toward virtually eliminating large cost overruns due to the inefficiency of redesign in later stages of the project while also assuring that the final building fully meets their needs.

Steps in the Programming Process

Step One – Organizing: It is very important that the end users are involved in the is process. On large projects the Client and the Architect will list and invite stakeholders in order to assure that all relevant input is included. Clear lines of communication are also established and points of authority are made clear to everyone.

Step Two – Project Typology Research: This step is necessary only if the team is working on a project type with which they do not have previous experience. It involves the study of precedents and literature to establish comparable norms for consideration by the team.

Step Three – Establishment of Goals and Objectives: Here the team works to agree upon and establish broad goals which will serve to guide for the detail programming process. They look at factors such as Organizational or Owner Goals, Form and Image Goals, Function Goals, Economic Goals, Sustainability Goals, Return On Investment Goals, Time and Schedule Goals , and Management or Circumstantial Goals.

Step Four – Gathering of Relevant Information: Based on the previously defined Goals, the team outlines categories of information to be researched in detail. These often include Facility Activities and Schedules, Necessary Equipment to Facilitate the Required Activities, Future Phasing Possibilities, the Space Area or Volume criteria, other design criteria such as Daylight and Acoustic Requirements, Licensing or Policy standards, Energy Usage Criteria, Code and other Regulatory Criteria, Site Analysis, as well as a study of the clients existing facility.

Step Five – Strategy Identification: A common method of outlining a functional program strategy is the depiction of the program by means of a relationship bubble diagram. These diagrams show relative areas and proximities of all program components. Access restrictions and Connections can also be identified through bubble or matrix diagrams.

Step Six – Quantifying the Requirements: In this step the previously identified program areas are further evaluated to determine true gross building size. This involves adding percentage values for ‘Tare’ components such as  circulation, walls, service spaces, etc. At this stage the team will refer to previous projects or precedents to determine the correct level of tare increase. Also,  the scope and quality of work is compared against the available project budget as well as the schedule. The owner needs to prioritize two of these factors at the expense of the third.  For example opting to pursue quality/scope and schedule at the expense of cost, or cost and schedule at the expense of quality/scope.

Step Seven – Program Summary: In this final step the team compiles a complete Functional Program Report which outlines all of the findings from the previous steps. This document serves as a solid starting basis for the project and assures that all efforts during design and construction focus the true and proven requirements.

 

Coming up:

Part Two: How to Find and Interview potential Architects

 

References:

ExAC Reference to the Canadian Handbook of Architectural Practice

WBDC Architectural Programming

Kwantlen First Nation Schwanee-st Cultural Community Centre Functional Program

Kwantlen First Nation
Schwanee-st Cultural Community Centre Functional Program, prepared with ABBARCH Architecture

 

Kwantlen First Nation Schwanee-st Cultural Community Centre Relationship Matrix Diagram

Kwantlen First Nation
Schwanee-st Cultural Community Centre Relationship Matrix Diagram, prepared with ABBARCH Architecture