Need Help with QA/QC and Construction Administration


I'm a young (almost) architect finding myself in slightly over my head. I have spent the majority of my five years in the profession working in a larger firm's central design department. While there, I focused mostly on the front end of projects (programming, planning, schematic, design development). I wouldn't trade that experience for anything, but now I find myself in a small firm responsible for the other end of projects (construction documents, QA/QC, construction administration). The person who is supposed to be helping me learn this process has turned out not to be a good teacher and essentially too busy to give me oversight and feedback. I need some enlightenment on how this end of the project is supposed to work. What does my role as the designer at this end of the project really look like? What standard forms do I need to be familiar with (ASI, RFI, Shop Drawing Review, what else..?)? What are some good resources for helping me understand just how to go about this? Are there books, online literature, or online classes that I can use to educate myself better? 

Thanks for the help and insight!

Nov 6, 19 10:54 am

Couple things you should read; The Project Manual front end sections.  It describes the various submitals and forms.  Also the contract; particularly AIA 201 which discusses the roles of the Arch, Owner and GC.  You'll also want to be at the Owner/Architect/Contractor (OAC) meetings so you know what's going on.  Always follow the project manual; do not vary too much. 

If you can, try to get in the field as often as possible and talk to the tradesmen and job super. I find it reduces the RFI's and CO's immensely if you can just have a discussion about whatever issue they ran across and bounce solutions back and forth.  Hint; Always treat the sub-contractor like they know more about their trade than you ever will.  What you bring is how that work fits into the overall since they tend to just look at their own stuff. Pick your battles... Successful CA tends to be more about team building than a 'us vs them'.  Some of it is more about figuring out how to get them to care about the work and personal pride.  A trick I like to do is make sure your field observations reports also have the good stuff in there instead of just focused on non-compliance logs, or if there is a nc item, have the solution you and the GC came up with.  Otherwise, you'll end up painting the GC poorly with the ownership which tends to piss them off, which leads to confrontation, which can send a project south rapidly.

Nov 6, 19 11:20 am

Thanks! I appreciate this view of the process, and I would agree that unifying the team goes so far towards covering some of the unforeseen gaps in the process.

atelier nobody

This is the single most important book you will buy in your career: Wiggins, Manual of Construction Documentation.

This book is almost equally important: Ching, Building Construction Illustrated.

Hopefully your office has a copy of the AIA Handbook of Professional Practice - read it. (If you need to buy your own, it's pretty expensive, maybe try a library.)

The CSI Project Delivery Practice Guide is also a good resource.

Finally, the U.S. National CAD Standard.

Nov 6, 19 1:16 pm

Thanks, atelier. Just placed my order for most of these.


Free lesson:  I would hesitate to put in writing, here or internally, that you feel you don't have enough oversight or feedback to properly do CA items, including review of submittals, RFIs, etc.  Furthermore, as part of your due diligence, if you have already put things in writing, you will need to document the satisfactory resolution that your questions were answered clearly and you have the oversight you need (and more importantly) the oversight contractually required for CA.  

As a side note, while good books, I'm trying to imagine being in your position and spending my off-hours looking at the literature Atelier Nobody recommends and getting any real immediate use out of it.  Stick to Mightyaa's advise.  Read your contract and Project Manual 01 and 02 divisions and identify your contractual requirements.  Create a cheat sheet (usually a page and a half for me, though I have mine in excel as a template) pulling the requirements together, for instance the time (in days) you have to respond to an RFI vs turn back submittals (work days or calendar days?)  Finally, frame EVERY conversation in relation to this contract to get the point across, example below.

Senior VP so-and-so, I emailed PM Too-busy 3 days ago about the hardware submittal #034 that came in on X date.  I have the following questions and have marked it up to the best of my ability and I need to move forward if I am to turn the submittal back by our contractually obligated time-frame of X date, which is in two days.  Do you mind sitting down with me?

Nov 6, 19 1:54 pm

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