Monday, April 4, 2011

Understanding the Client - Architect - Contractor Relationship

A successful, efficient project considers the client's needs, their well being, and their budget. The Client, The Architect, and the Contractor have very specific and necessary roles.
  • The Client – have specific goals, expectations and a budget that is in alignment with these goals and expectations.
  • The Architect – must guide the client, propose reasonable, sustainable design solutions, and provide accurate detailed drawings. These must meet the client's requirements as well as applicable building codes and zoning criteria. The finalized construction documents will become the client’s contract with the contractor.
  • The Contractor – must be a responsible craftsman with expertise and the experience necessary to manage the trades and to build the project as designed and documented.
As with a 3-legged stool, all of the three parties must work together in concert. They must maintain open dialogue and be able to troubleshoot as a team in order to respond to unforeseen issues or client-initiated changes. Limiting or eliminating any of these components will leave the client with a compromised solution.
Ultimately, the Client has two contracts, one is between the Owner and the Architect and the other is between the Owner and the Contractor. The Architect works for the Owner during the Construction Phase to Observe that the Construction Documents are being interpreted correctly.  The Architect advocates for the Owner. Beware of the Contractor that does not want an Architect involved.  Remember, the Architect works for the Owner to see that the investment in the Contract Documents--also known as Drawings and Specifications, is realized. This  "Three Legged Stool" model also creates "checks and balances" that have been the successful precedence for many of the projects Clawson Architects has completed.  


  1. Great article! People think it's easy to become a Model but there are things you need to know!