Assignment of design to constructors: A discussion and direction

According to the Canadian Construction Association (CCA), a decrease in design budgets, a lack of appropriate time to complete the design, and a reduction of the specialty design knowledge that does not normally form a part of traditional professional design responsibilities has resulted in a transfer of responsibility for many design solutions to the constructor. Photos © BigStockPhoto.com
According to the Canadian Construction Association (CCA), a decrease in design budgets, a lack of appropriate time to complete the design, and a reduction of the specialty design knowledge that does not normally form a part of traditional professional design responsibilities has resulted in a transfer of responsibility for many design solutions to the constructor.
Photos © BigStockPhoto.com

The players and influencers

Most readers of this magazine are well aware of the traditional roles of constructor (contractor, construction manager, or design‑builder), and the architect/engineer (design professional, co-ordinating registered professional, or RPR).

The “other design entities” within the arena of professional involvement arising from the deferred or collaborative design process used to deliver deferred submittals during the progress of the work are not defined. Examples of these contributors have already been introduced as the supporting registered professional and the supporting certified/qualified contributors.

Supporting registered professionals are not mandated by the building codes, but delegation of design responsibilities to supporting registered professionals is a recommended mechanism—by most engineering associations—for the RPR to receive assurances from other registered professionals, who do not form a part of the project team and who can provide appropriate design solutions. Various professional associations at the provincial and state levels provide written guidance supporting the role of supporting registered professionals. The term used in this article may not match the definitions of those associations, but the concept of transference and acceptance of responsibilities is clearly described.

The term “supporting certified/qualified contributors” is the “someone else entity” for deferred or collaborative design solutions not requiring participation by a registered professional. This term accounts for contributions from certified or qualified individuals to specialty components or specialist knowledge that does not form a part of the co-ordinating registered professional’s or RPR’s range of experience.

Contributions by the supporting certified/qualified contributors include design services associated with firestop design covered by a certified fire protection specialist (CFPS) and door hardware schedules and specifications provided by a door and hardware specification consultant (DHSC). This group may also include other certified individuals having specialty knowledge.

Provincial engineering associations only address:

  • professional practice;
  • how registered professionals respond to design requirements within and outside of provincial borders; and
  • how the RPR incorporates contributions from supporting registered professionals.

The relationship between the RPR and assigned-design contributions by supporting certified/qualified contributors is not specifically described, although the concept is the same as required by the supporting registered professional described above.

Most architectural associations are silent on the concepts of supporting registered professionals and supporting certified/qualified contributors. This is the probable cause of inappropriate or incorrect deferred design that may be observed within the architectural project documents.

Deferring design must not be used to transfer design intent responsibility to the constructor because the RPR does not have sufficient time or budget to complete the design. Deferring design should only occur when the RPR does not have the necessary skills to complete the work, and the owner is informed and has accepted the need for deferral.

Owners have expectations of the RPR based on the fees paid; an expectation the RPR will provide a complete design, meaning any exclusions to the owner’s stated requirements are clearly identified prior to signing a contract with the owner.

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