25 Things Within An Architect’s Control

Did you know there are at least 25 things that an architect can do to manage or mitigate practice and project risks? We first shared our list of "25 Things" at the 2021 OAA Virtual Conference. Read on and download this useful resource to start implementing or integrating any one (or all!) of these ideas in your practice.

  1. Adequate Scope of Services – Insist upon an adequate scope of services to meet your professional mandate and Duty of Care to the public
  2. Adequate Fees – Insist upon adequate fees for yourself and your subconsultants – sufficient to provide an adequate scope of services…so you can meet your Duty of Care to the public
  3. Manage your client’s expectations with respect to:
    • Process….stages, objectives, milestones
    • Time requirements…almost always longer than a client imagines or wants
    • Costs, budgets, need for contingencies
    • Codes…minimum adherence is the lawy, but you can do better, as long as the client agrees with doing better
    • Approvals by authorities…are out of your control
  4. Retain a lawyer – Do NOT act as your own “amateur lawyer”…retain a lawyer to assit you on contract and practice matters
  5. Learn to say “No…that doesn’t work for me!” to a potential client or anyone else who is entitled to rely on your professional opinion and advice
  6. Be prepared to walk away from potential clients, situations and circumstances that don’t meet or threaten your own ethical and professional standards
  7. Document everything you say and do in the provision of your services  – In writing!
  8. Meet your professional duty to advice / duty to warn your client about the implications of his / her demands and your recommendations….respectfully challenge your client
  9. Tell the truth – Be honest – always – even when your client doesn’t want to hear it
  10. Use Smart Contracts that:
    • are compatible with your role as a professional
    • do not expose you to additional liability beyond what is already yours “at law”
    • do not expose you to uninsured liability
    • do not expose you to liability that exceeds your $ limits
    • Smart Contracts are: contract wordings provided by the profession specifically for the provision of architectural services, and those of their subconsultants, or are written by your own lawyer
  11. Serve your own interests and needs – Use your agreements for your services to serve your own interests and needs as a professional
    • Use  Smart Contracts for your own services, and
    • Use  Smart Contracts for your subconsultants’ services
  12. Avoid contracts that expose you to uninsured obligations and liability – like Client-authored contracts
  13. Use available tools – To “fix” Client-authored indemnity Clauses
  14. Recognize and manage the inherent risks you face in a professional service business. Protect yourself and your practice.
  15. Develop and use a “Go / No go” tool for assessing potential new clients and projects
  16. Value your own experience – don’t repeat prior mistakes
  17. Read & understand the protections provided to you by your Professional Liability Insurance Policy (If you need an incentive, reading your Professional Liability Policy counts as self-directed Con-Ed points.)
  18. Coordinate the work of your subconsultants……actively, and through all phases of the work
  19. Recognize your limitations. Retain specialists where you lack experience or expertise:
    • Building Envelope…highest cost category for claims
    • Building Code…common source of claims
    • Costs…Client depends on you to respect their $$$
  20. Resist retaining “Owner’s Specialists” – don’t accept contractual liability for the work of others as a “convenience” to a client
  21. Pay attention to the Contract Administration provisions in a Construction Contract that you will be administering. Insist on:
    • Consultant  / Contract Administrator role consistent with your scope of services in your agreement with the client
    • Role consistent with Architects Act and Regulation
    • Dispute Resolution provisions that don’t prejudice you / your insurer’s ability to defend you effectively (Exclusion 7)
  22. Take control of your practice including the basis on which you are prepared to provide your professional services
  23. Avoid contracts that expose you to uninsured obligations and liability – like Client-authored contracts
  24. Monitor and update your QA process regularly
  25. Learn from the experiences of other architects

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