By Dennis Buirge
QUESTION: How many inspection(s) does the design professional perform during the construction of a project, albeit site related, landscape related, building related, or facility related?
A. None. Only observations are performed.
B. One. Only at substantial completion.
C. Two. At substantial completion and final completion.
D. Many. During each site visit and job conference meeting, as stipulated in the Owner/Architect Agreement.
During the construction period the design professional visits the site, attends job conferences, resolves design issues, and monitors the work via observations. At some point during construction of a project and prior to Owner occupancy, it becomes necessary for an initial formal review of the completed work to confirm whether it conforms to the Contract Documents. Anything not in compliance, either if not yet complete and/or being contrary to project requirements will be so noted for resolution by the Contractor(s). This process is clearly defined in Section 007200 - General Conditions, identifying Contractor, Architect, and Owner actions.
That INITIAL formal review is normally referred to as Substantial Completion (SC) and differs in time and action from the FINAL formal review that occurs during Final Completion (FC). SC is defined as the date when the project, or a portion of the project, is determined by the A/E to be sufficiently complete so that the Owner can use it for its intended purpose. While references to SC can be found in miscellaneous paragraphs of Section 007200, the main Article occurs as 9.8. That article clearly defines 6 issues that must be addressed prior to the project being considered SC: all project parts and systems are accessible, operable and usable by Owner, including site work and HVAC systems; project is clean; operation and maintenance manuals have been submitted; training of Owner’s personnel has taken place; annotated Record Documents have been submitted; and certifications and approvals by authorities having jurisdiction have been issued. SC includes the Contractor(s) providing a ‘comprehensive’ list of incomplete work that is given to the design professional, who then establishes its own list, which when combined become the ‘punch list’. The punch list needs to include costs associated with each work scope and a total time to complete all outstanding and/or corrective work. The design professional completes a form, includes various attachments, at which point the Owner may take possession of the facility. SC could be established for the entire project; however phased SC can occur commensurate with phased construction. While the date of SC will be defined in the Contract Documents as contract time, the date of FC may or may not, but it will be established as part of SC.
While some work scopes are a bit easier to identify during design as it relates to projecting work time frames and establishing the date of SC, what about those few that might be problematic? How are they to be defined in the Contract Documents? At least one of you might be thinking, Denny, what are you talking about? I am thinking about landscaping. With growing seasons in various areas having limited time frames and work occurring around the site, it might not be possible for landscaping to be totally ‘complete’ within the contract time. Complete for grass by my definition means grass sown, grass matured, grass cut, and grass fully established. When does the grass become substantially complete when the building was SC months previously?
Division 32 specification Sections regarding landscaping would define acceptance parameters for grass and plantings. Possibilities for defining SC for this work scope could be: 1) identify the grass/plantings as a phased element, coordinating its SC date with the landscape architect, and stating such in the bidding documents; 2) include the grass/plantings as part of the original SC and identify the grass/plantings as a punch list item with a sufficient FC date allowing for full development of the landscaping.
During my early years in the business, I was incorrectly informed regarding the meaning of observations and inspections with the true definitions being learned through CSI related activities. Initial and final formal reviews performed by the design professional during SC and FC are considered inspections; previous reviews are observations. Therefore the correct answer to the initial question is C, two inspections.
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