8 Clauses That Empower Architects On Construction Sites

The duties of the architects, contractors, and clients during construction are spelled out in a contract form for clarity. That form is commonly called the Conditions of Engagement. In that contract, clauses that empower architects, contractors, and clients are inserted. This contract will not only empower but also state penalties for defaulters. The most common document architects in Nigeria consult for these clauses is the Standard Form of Building Contract in Nigeria prepared by the Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA).

Excerpts from the document; Standard Form of Building Contract in Nigeria are quoted in this article. Note that for a contract to be binding, contractors need to sign a written agreement with clients that states the roles of the consultants on such projects and the extent to which they can exercise their duties as architects and QS, etc on site.

Let’s jump right into the roles;

Clauses that empowers the architect on site

1. Issuing of Instructions

This is the first, most important and principal responsibility of the architect. It is not the duty of the client, project manager or any other person on site to issue the instruction. Verbal instructions, observations and the need for remedial works by other consultants (engineers, QS, etc) can’t be issued directly to contractors but must be channelled through the architect and stated in his Architect’s Instruction.

An architect’s instruction is a formal written directive issued to contractors to remedy workmanship, goods or materials which are not in accordance with the contract documents. Contractors are compelled to adhere to architects’ instructions within a specific period of time. The essence of an architect’s instruction is to correct mistakes on site.

The contractor shall (subject to clause 2.2,2.3 and 11.4) forthwith comply with all instructions issued by the architect in regard to any matter in respect of which the architect is expressly empowered by the condition to issue instructions. If within 5 working days after receipt of written notice from the architect requiring compliance with an instruction the contractor does not comply therewith, the employer may employ and pay other persons to execute any work which may be necessary to give effect to such instruction and all costs incurred in connection with such employment shall be recoverable from the contractor by the employer as debt or maybe deducted by him from any monies due to or to become due to the contractor under this contract.

Clause 2.1

Note that a contractor has the right to ask the architect to prove that he is empowered to issue instructions.

Upon receipt of what purports to be an instruction issued to him by the architect, the contractor may request the architect to specify in writing the provision of the condition which empowers the issue of the said instruction. The architect shall forthwith comply with any such request then the issue of the same shall be deemed for all the purpose of this contract to have been empowered by the provision of these conditions specified by the architect in answer to the contractor’s request

Clause 2.2

2. Determining the level at the commencement of work

When site work is to start, it is the architect’s responsibility to determine the level required for the commencement of that work.

I have seen instances where contractors mobilize to the site in a hurry, and commence setting out and foundation work without informing the architects. Only to run into trouble because the actual level on site was at variance with the one used by the architects in his drawings.

The architects had stepped the foundation using a height difference of 3 meters, but the contractor observed when it was too late that the actual height difference was 4.5 meters. This mistake caused a serious variation at the foundation level and it was difficult to apportion blame.

The architect shall determine any level which may be required for the execution of the works, and shall furnish to the contractor by way of accurately dimensioned drawings such information as shall enable the contractor to set out the work at ground level. unless the architect shall otherwise instruct, in which case the contract sum shall be adjusted accordingly, the contractor shall be responsible for and shall entirely at his own cost amend any errors arising from his own inaccurate setting out.

Clause 5

3. Issuing of certificates

Besides issuing instructions, it’s the architect’s duty to certify work done and issue a certificate to authenticate this. The various certificate that the architect can issue in the lifespan of a construction project are;

  • Interim certificates
  • Sectional / Practical completion certificate
  • Certificate of completion of making good defects
  • Final certificate

An architect certificate is a document that the architects use to confirm that a building project has been built to the specifications contained in the contract documents. Until a completion certificate is issued, Interim certificates will be issued when the project work is ongoing. Contractors are entitled to payments when certain certificates are issued to them.

For example in the case of practical completion:

When in the opinion of the architect, the work are practically completed, he shall forthwith issue a certificate to that effect and practical completion of works shall be deemed for all purposes of the contract to have taken place on the day named on the certificate.

Clause 15.1

4. Furnishing of Contractor with Specifications.

The contract drawings (that is all drawings with which the project was awarded) are always handed over to the client and remain in the client’s custody till he gives certified true copies to the contractors at the commencement of site work.

However, when these drawings (architectural drawings) don’t contain enough details for construction, it is the responsibility of the architect to furnish the contractor with specifications, descriptive schedules, etc immediately after the award of the contract.

As soon as the is possible after the execution of the contract, the architect, without charge to the contractor shall furnish him (unless he shall have previously furnished) with two copies of the specification, descriptive schedules or other like documents necessary for the use in carrying out the works.

Provided that nothing contained in the said specifications, descriptive schedules or other documents shall impose any obligation beyond those imposed by the contract documents, namely the contract drawings, the contract bills, the articles of agreement and these conditions

As and when from time to time may be necessary, the architect without charge to the contractor shall furnish him with two copies of such drawings or details as are reasonably necessary either to explain and amplify the contractor drawings or enable the contractor to carry out and complete the works in accordance with these conditions.

Clause 3.3, 3.4

5. Confirming that materials, goods, and workmanship conform to specification and testing

Once the architects take charge of a building site as the Prime consultant, it becomes his responsibility to ensure that all materials and workmanship are in accordance with the consultants’ specifications. Where they are not, the architect will issue instructions to the contractor to remedy the shortcomings.

All materials, goods and workmanship shall so far as procurable be of the respective kinds and standard in the contractor bills

Clause 6.1

This can even extend to the person-in-charge (contractor agent) if the architect observes that this foreman isn’t technically literate enough the oversee the construction he can issue an instruction for his replacement within a specified period of time.

“The contractor shall upon request of the architect furnish him with a voucher to prove that the materials and goods comply with clause 6.1

The architect may issue instructions requiring the contractor to open up for inspection any work covered up or to arrange for or carry out any test of any materials or goods (whether or not incorporated in the works) or of any executed works and cost of such opening or testing (together with the cost of making good in consequence thereof) shall be added to the contract sum unless provided for in the contract bills or unless the inspection or test shows that the work, materials or goods are not in accordance with the contract

Clause 6.2, 6.3

6. Issuing directive on the provisional sum

Often, in the bill of quantities, provisional sums are provided for costs that can’t be fully ascertained. During construction, It becomes the responsibility of the architect to issue directives on how to effectively spend that sum.

the architect shall issue instruction in regards to the expenditure of prime cost and provisional sums included in the contract bills.

Clause 11.5

7. Managing defect liability period

It’s the architect’s responsibility to ensure that defects observed during this period are collated and transmitted to the contractor for onward repairs.

The defect liability period is a set period of time (usually 6 months and a rainy season) after construction has been completed during which the contractor has the obligation to return to the site to remedy defects.

Notwithstanding clause 15.3 the architect may whenever he considers it necessary so to do, issue instructions requiring any defects, shrinkage or other faults which shall appear within the defect liability period named in the appendix which is due to material or workmanship not in accordance with this contract or to exposure to sun or weather occurring before practical completion of the works to be made good, and contractor shall within a reasonable time after receipt of the instruction, in which case the contract shall be adjusted accordingly, entirely at his own cost, provided no such instruction shall be issued after delivery of a schedule of defects or after 14 days of the expiration of the defect liability period.

Clause 15.4

8. Inspection of contractors’ insurance

Very often in the course of construction, liabilities such as injuries and sometimes death may arise, because of this, the contractor and subcontractor are required to take and maintain insurance that covers their liabilities and indemnifies the client.

It is the architect’s responsibility to demand evidence of insurance policies from the contractor and inspect them to be sure that they are maintained.

As and when he is reasonably required so to do by the employer, the contractor shall send and shall cause any subcontractor to send to the architect for inspection documentary evidence that the insurance(s) required by clause 19 have been taken out and are being maintained. But at any time the employer of the architect may (but not unreasonably or vexatiously) require to have produce for his inspection the policy or policies and premium receipts in question

Clause 19.1 3

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