Officially called Construction Administration, CA is the management term for everything after a project goes out to bid and is then being built and/or furnished. I don’t ever remember my teachers spending time lecturing on – or even mentioning, CA really. Maybe it was just over my head at the time, but I would have thought now that we would have spent time discussing it more, since it is basically half of what we do as designers. So what does CA entail, pray tell? Well, it can involve a lot of things from on site management of the construction to a lot of paper work. Today I spent loads of time on the paper work side of things: Some of these are called RFI’s, PR’s, CCD’s and Submittals. Here’s an explanation:

Let’s say you take a concept for an intricate stone pattern design for the lobby floor and then draft that design into the construction documents. These drawings should include anything that the installer would need to know – dimensions, directions of where to start the pattern if needed and all the products needed to complete the design. You have to communicate in a way that leaves the installer or contractor with no questions to ask. But, when there are questions, a “RFI” (Request for information) is issued. Sometimes, these don’t come because you missed something, but because the site conditions aren’t what everyone had planned for. Or, sometimes, materials that you specified are no longer available.

“Submittals” are when a specified material – let’s say a granite stone tile for the stone floor you designed, is given to you to approve and verify that it matches your intent. You have to stamp the material and send paperwork – now digitally – back to the contractor.

Submittal stamp

An example of a submittal stamp

submittal samples

Example of some types of submittals that may come to you for review

While Submittals and RFI’s come from the Contractor to the Architect or Designer, PR’s (Price requests) and CCD’s (cost change directives) come from the Architect to the contractor. Different companies can use the labeling of PR’s and CCD’s differently, but PR’s basically entail when a design change is issued to the contractor to see what the cost impact of that desired change. CCD’s are when the Architect or Designer officially submits this design change to the contractor for implementation. It should be said that CCD’s are a cost to the Owner, so they will need to review and agree to pay for this change. Hopefully, a CCD is created and issued because the Owner has requested the change and we as designers are not just changing our minds!

If you haven’t prepared well, the CA phase can be frustrating for all parties. Each CA phase I go through I see how I can improve the process and make things a little clearer on my end so as to cut down on time spent in the contractor seeking clarifications and products not working like I had intended. It’s a time and money thing. But I will say I find CA to be some of the most enjoyable time of a project; It’s seeing all your ideas and concepts coming into shape and form, and who doesn’t like that!

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