The essence of Andrew Hemsley's article (31 March, page 61) is that architects no longer enjoy a monopoly as contract administrators - "many professions can bid for the job".
What he says about their roles poses some important questions about their ability to do the job, their consequent liabilities and perception of their roles by client and contractor.
He starts by describing the opportunities for non-architect professions to become CAs under design-and-build contracts where the architect has been novated to the client. This makes sense - up to a point. Many non-architects are well fitted to act professionally for the client in running his contract, liaising with all the team members, monitoring progress, reporting back to the client and recommending payments to the contractor.
But beyond this point, things become a bit more tricky. Hemsley says: "The CA will have to supervise [surely ‘inspect'?], approve materials and workmanship, certify completion and issue schedules of defects and the final certificate."
Two questions arise:
How many non-architects are qualified to judge quality standards?
To what extent does the "contractor's obligation to deliver in accordance with the contract" indemnify the CA against liability where he has undertaken to judge standards of materials and workmanship?
In the absence of any specific definition in a designer's terms of engagement on what quality inspection actually comprises (the RIBA have not yet come up with anything), and the weasel wording of the final certificate of JCT contract forms, the certification of quality must surely apportion considerable responsibility to the certifier.
It would be interesting to see how project managers' terms of engagement indemnify them from the risks they undertake when they become CAs under JCT forms and how many clients are aware of the effects of issuing a final certificate.
Malcolm Taylor, Lancaster