Quick Guide: Modern Contractor

Eichler Post & Beam Home, San Raphael CA

Some notable Modernist architects have started their careers as builders or contractors. A few that stand out include Craig Ellwood and his cool Case Study House # 17 or Alfred Newman Beadle and the original Case Study Apartment #1.

Another popular contractor/developer who is probably more famous than the architects he hired, is Joseph Eichler and his popular modernist homes he built in California. Unfortunately, (or fortunately) not all architects get the chance to build for themselves, and rely on the contractor to bring the designs to life.  So what exactly can be expected from the contractor on the project?

The origin of the word contractor is one who enters into a contract to provide work, services, or goods and they enter into a contract with the owner (not the architect) to execute the work of the contract (architect’s construction documents). The contractor builds the project and manages the process of building. The contractor will also have a project manager and site superintendent in addition to many the sub-contractors not unlike the architect having project managers, and contract administrators.

The responsibilities of the contractor, are normally spelled out in the owner/ contractor contract. If you use the CCDC 2 – stipulated sum contract, Part 3 states the responsibilities of the contractor (or AIA Document A201 in the US), and it should be noted that most of the responsibilities are in some way or other linked with the contractor’s project management skills (highlighting the importance of thorough contract administration).

These responsibilities can be summarized and grouped into three categories:

  1. Control of the work which includes providing supervision, labour and products, paying subcontractors and suppliers, quality control and quality assurance, payment bonds, insurance, and site safety
  2. Scheduling and coordinating the work, sub-contractors, material deliveries, inspections and testing
  3. Management of the Documents:
    1. Reviewing contract documents for errors and omissions
    2. Maintaining up to date copies of documentation on site
    3. Providing submittals and samples for A/E review
    4. Providing record drawings, O&M manuals, and other close out documentation

These three categories are the basis of what the architect and owner can expect from a contractor and when these expectations are known to all parties, it is almost certain that the project will run smoother.

Keeping these responsibilities in mind on your next project will also provide a base for confident decision making in contract administration and of course creating a timeless modern work of architecture from your design!

We would be happy to hear from you, any opinions, advice or relevant experiences on your projects. We would also love to see any photos your modern house design or construction that were built with RForm managing the contract admin.

For further reading this post references the 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 Joe Wolf and the original version can be found here.

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