Owner: Patron of Architecture


We often dream of the perfect patron, the client or owner who is a connoisseur of culture, art,  architecture and the finer things in life. They are highly intelligent, wealthy and provide the architect with total design freedom and don’t forget an unlimited budget. All that they ask for in return is for the Architect to create a great design and to watch over its construction. There may not be a more famous home or benefactor relationship than that of Edgar Kaufmann and Frank Lloyd Wright and the design of Kaufmann’s summer home Fallingwater.

With all of this history, preconceptions, and stories it sometimes easy to overlook the owner’s rights and responsibilities as the project moves into construction. CCDC 2 defines the term owner as the owner or owner’s authorized agent or representative as designated to the contractor in writing, but does not include the consultant. Depending on the terms and conditions of the contract the following are some typical responsibilities and rights of the owner:


  • Provide the contractor at no charge sufficient copies of the contract documents to perform the work.
  • Provide the contractor with information that might include:
    • Proof that financing for the project is in place
    • Site information such as surveys, utilities, legal descriptions and geotechnical investigations of the site, etc…
  • Pay for approvals, easements, assessments and other charges that are required for the project to proceed in addition to those that the contractor is responsible for.
  • Regular payments to the contractor in accordance with the terms and conditions of the contract (sometimes the owner can also withhold payments).


  • Make changes to the work through the consultant
  • Carry out the work in the event that the contractor defaults or neglects to perform the work
  • Terminate the contractor’s right to continue with the work or terminate the contract
  • Reserves the right to award separate contracts for other parts of the work or to perform the work with own forces
  • Right to have a clean site, and if the contractor neglects this the owner can arrange for the site to be cleaned and charged back to the contractor via a change order
  • Right to partially occupy the project

The owner, like it or not, carries a lot of clout. They own the site, own the project, engage the contractor, engage the architect, pay the bills, and move in when it is complete. So as you can see they are little more than just a hands off wealthy patron!

For further reading this post references the CCDC 2 Stipulated Price Contract and CSI Construction Contract Administration – Practice Guide, Wiley & Sons, 2011. The photo above was licensed under a Creative Commons Attributions License CC BY-ND 2.0. It is attributed to Brian Donovan.

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