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dreamdoctor

It all comes down to the people involved - the paper work is a legal thing but no one one ever wants to get out the attorneys and duke it out in court over the fine details if things "go South". I often recommend doing a small(er) project with the contractor of "choice" first if that is possible or a limited scope project such as the shell of building or renovation with the unspoken (or spoken) understanding that if the project goes well the rest of the project will go to them. It is easier to keep track of a small or limited scope project and not as many places to hide fat.The builder may decide they don't want to do the rest of the project even though the finish portion of the project is where more of the profit is - this is a wake up call for the customer.

I do some innovative construction method projects and the usual first response of a production builder (not a good fit anyway but sometimes the client has a buddy or someone they want to use) is to throw money at them because they are out of the ordinary when the system is designed and detailed to save time and money. So, doing a small project is imperative to get a good price and understanding - this also helps the building inspectors/officials/lender/insurance company etc.

   
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greg5927

Dream and Anne. As Dream says, if you have a disagreement and you need to enforce a Construction Contract, maybe engage Arbitration or legal action, well no one wins. But that is not the point. A good construction contract if read and understood by both parties provides a vehicle for discussion and understanding of roles and responsibilities UP FRONT as the document is being executed. This dialogue and the resulting give & take is a precursor to the coordination activities that will happen when dust is flying and the money meter is running. Nothing magic about agreements. Strike out clauses, add new language. Ask for assurances. But the actors need to talk and envision the downside. In the Contract is: what happens if "x" goes wrong? The honeymoon is over when the Contract comes out: it is the sandbox for power maneuvering and compromise. This is why the agreement needs to be THE OWNERS INSTRUMENT, not a proforma sign-off for the builder. The first role of the Owner is to MANAGE the builder through the Contract, not get into project minutia. The second most effective Management instrument is LEVERAGE. That is cash flow and risk position. You want to observe satisfactory work in place, then pay for it. Cash-flow needs to be negotiated for in the Agreement..... that is if the Owner does not have a pro managing the job for them.

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dreamdoctor

It is after all the owner's project. Everyone involved is supposed to be helping them realize their project. The architect's role - "To assist the owner in their project." A good project manager is worth their weight in gold and few no how to do that well. My description of a good/great project manager - they know everything about everything and when something goes wrong they know everything about that. It would be rare to find many people that can do that. I am in the middle of a bad situation - where a property manager is/was trying to be a project manager and in the process is practicing architecture without a license. The person she contracted for the commercial work did not get a building permit and has caused the owner much grief because of it - I happened into the project and started asking questions before there was structural failure (or an exiting disaster during an emergency) - when does that happen? At the worst time possible. Keep your eyes wide open - ask questions before making demands - humility goes a lot further than heavy handedness which shows your hand - usually that you don't know what you're doing.

   

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