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The Perils of Substitutions - Part II Diligent recordkeeping reduces architect’s risk when changes result in underperformance b y J i m A t k i n s , F AIA , a n d G r a n t A . S i m p s o n , F AIA
Substitutions can carry many unbalanced risks for architects, but they are likely to endure, as we observed in Part I of this two-part series. The perceived positive results for owners and contractors will allow substitutions to prevail as a popular cost-reducing exercise, and architects will be expected to accept them and bear responsibility for their performance. While architects may be forced to acquiesce to them, there are options for who should bear responsibility for the substitution’s performance. This article will address how substitutions can be managed both in owner or contractor expectation and administratively. It will look at beneficial ways to mitigate the architect’s risks and examine options for accountability, and what can be done to establish and influence the standard of care for these changes.
Common Methods The essential problem of the most potentially harmful substitution changes is that they are introduced into a project as design work is nearing its final stages and often after the drawings have been issued for construction. Even so, many substitution changes are appropriate, and given project conditions, they may benefit the execution of the project and may cause minimal, if any, problems in the final result. Other substitution changes can be more insidious and cause ramifications not foreseen by any of the project participants. It is beneficial to review some of the more obvious ways that these changes enter into the life of a project.
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