Saturday, March 17, 2012

Field Reports - Part IV - The Owner's Perspective

I've covered PLENTY about Field Observation Reports. For this post, I want to focus on how an owner or client should treat these field reports because I love an informed client. They ask engaging questions and are always challenging you to be better. Based on my experience, there are the behaviors and questions that smart owners ask or address:

Look at the items the author discusses

Are they detailed or topical? Did the author have to climb 4 stories to observe the issue? Is the author making blanket statements or is there detailed analysis? Detailed analysis and observation suggests that the author is thoroughly observing all areas. Be especially cautious if you see the side-mirror in the corner of the author's photographs! I’ve seen it and would never pay for a field report where the author didn’t even get out of the car.

side mirror in photo
Are solutions suggested?
It is not good enough to identify the problems. The owner needs solutions. Has the author suggested solutions or recommended repairs? A good architect will also follow up with the client via phone to discuss the content of the report.

Are the non-conforming items being corrected?
How is the author tracking these items? I discuss a method for tracking these items here. This also helps to ensure that the punchlist is as exhaustive as possible.

Does the contractor understand the author's intention? 
Non-conforming work will not be corrected if the contractor doesn’t understand the Architect's directions. Smart owners will not only require that a portion of OAC meetings be dedicated to discussing non-conforming work identified in field reports, but smart owners will also call the contractor within 24 hours to personally ask if all directives are understood.

Are there repeat mistakes? 
Is this the third time that the author has noted improper window flashing sequencing? Has the contractor continuously installed product not as specified by the architect? These are signs of a bigger problem and can be identified with the use of a non-conforming work log. A wise owner will also periodically review all past field reports in an attempt to see overall trends.

Is the Contractor behind schedule? As an owner, the field report should not be the first indication that the contractor is behind schedule. Hopefully, you are attending progress meetings and are reviewing meeting minutes in addition to regularly calling your architect and contractor. The field report should confirm any suspicions that you have regarding schedule.

Not Exhaustive
I need to repeat myself here because too often, the Architect gets blamed for this type of thing. The architect is not obligated to catch every small mistake. If something gets missed, it is not always the architect's fault. Budgeting for adequate construction administration services is a always a good way to help ensure that any non-confirming work is caught and corrected.

That is all for now. If you have any other practices that you use with field reports that you receive, I could love to hear them. Please send me an email.

Former Posts
Field Reports - Part I
Field Reports - Part II
Field Reports - Part III