On November 6, 2015 the California Council decided to continue discussion on how to best approach protecting and promoting the role of the Architect of Record during construction

This proposal is for discussion and possible legislation on mandatory construction observation.

Last year the AAC recommended and the AIACC Board of Directors approved a proposal that would require architects to perform Mandatory Construction Observation. Due to the complexity of this issue, the need to garner the support of collateral organizations, and the time required to develop a strong proposal, the AIACC did not seek to have legislation introduced.

AIACC staff continued to work on developing this issue. The refined proposal was submitted again to the AAC earlier this month. Because the proposal now only contained construction observation requirements of accessibility related components of the building after completion of construction, and not all aspects of the building both during construction and upon completion, and the CO was at the end of the project and not throughout, the AAC voted to not recommend it as a potential sponsored legislation in 2016.

Because the Board has previously voted in favor of this proposal, we are sharing what was submitted to the AAC below, for the Board’s discussion and consideration.  This proposal is for discussion and possible legislation on mandatory construction observation. It is similar to a proposal this Committee and the Board of Directors approved last year (we did not proceed with legislation as more work on it was needed).

There is a perception that the profession of architecture is a prime source of access code violations occurring in built environment. This perception is based on the misinformed belief that a building is constructed exactly as it was designed, and that if it has access code violations, it must have been designed that way.

Following that logic, the question that we should be seeking the answer to is: How is it that a building designed by a licensed architect, submitted to, and approved for construction by a certified building official, then constructed by a licensed contractor and subcontractors, and receives periodic and final inspection and approval by a certified IOR, can then found to have access violations which are solely the fault of the architect?

Contributing to the problem is that because design professional service agreements frequently do not include construction administration as part of the architect’s services, architects are not provided the opportunity to observe construction to ensure that what they designed is what is in fact being constructed.

To address this problem, the Council could propose mandatory construction observation as an approach to reducing new construction related access violations, citing that deviations from the approved plans during construction are the true problem, and that design errors can only cause access violations with the contributory failing of the building official, the contractor and subcontractors, and the IOR.

Because the initial approach which included CO during construction was met with concern from the profession, this proposal was modified to seek mandatory post construction observation to reduce the occurrence of access violations occurring as a result of the construction trades not following the approved plans.

Conceptually, this approach would provide the architect of record (AOR), or his/her Certified Access Specialist (CASp) consultant, the ability to visit the project post construction to compare the approved plans against the completed work – for access code related matters only. Deviations from the plans would be documented in a field report, and a copy of the report noting any deviations would be provided to the project owner to remedy through their contractor.

Furthermore, bill language could be crafted to specify that, for whatever reason, should the owner want to hire his own architect or CASp to perform the post-construction evaluation, the owner must then hold harmless and indemnify the AOR for failure to bring the building into alignment with the approved plans.