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The Contract Documents

The contract for construction consists of much more than just a simple agree- ment form. Although an agreement form is eventually executed between the owner and the contractor, there are many more documents that direct the con- struction of the project and responsibilities of the parties. All of these documents taken together make up the construction contract, and they are referred to as the contract documents.

Under most circumstances, the contractor is not involved in the actual design of the project. The contract documents are the medium through which the archi- tect or engineer communicates the design intent to the contractor. Therefore, you can certainly understand just how important it is that the documents be as com- plete and free from error as possible. ]

The contract documents consist of two major components: the drawings and the project manual. The drawings basically define the quantity of the work—the length, the width, the area, the volume, and so on. The project manual, which includes the specifications, defines the quality of the work. The construction team must fully familiarize itself with these documents before bidding a job and should know them inside out before proceeding with construction. The compo- nents of the contract documents are discussed in detail here.


Drawing Production

Back in the old days, the plans or drawings were often called blueprints. That term came from the way in which documents were printed: produced by hand using lead pencils or ink and reproduced using blueprint machines. The paper used to reproduce the drawings was actually blue paper, and all of the lines on the paper printed in white. The printing process used today produces blue lines on white paper, and the correct term for the drawings is actually bluelines. However, many people still refer to the drawings as blueprints.

Most drawings today are actually produced electronically using computer- aided design software known as CAD, and the prints are produced on digital plotters using multiple ink colors. So, the expression “back to the drawing board” is actually passé, because when redesign must take place, today it actu- ally means “back to the computer.”
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Organization of the Drawings

As you can imagine, a lot of information must be conveyed to the construction team when trying to build a complex facility. Although the architect is the lead designer on a building project and is accountable for providing the architectural design for the facility, the architect does not do all of the work alone. Various engineers are hired by the architect to assist with specialized areas of design, such as civil engineering and structural, mechanical, and electrical design. The architect is in charge of coordinating all of these efforts and is responsible for compiling the final set of design documents. Therefore, the drawing set is orga- nized by the various types of designs required to fully communicate the extent of the construction (such as civil drawings, architectural drawings, structural draw- ings, and so on), and they are numbered accordingly for easy reference.

Most sets of drawings start with a cover sheet providing general information about the project. For example, the project owner is noted, as are the architect, the engineers, and sometimes even the financier. The location of the project is often noted on the cover sheet as well, using vicinity maps and subdivision plats. Sometimes a perspective drawing of the building is also shown on the cover sheet. After the cover sheet, it is common to order the drawings in accordance with a standard protocol. That standard protocol calls for the civil drawings to be placed directly behind the cover with architectural, structural, mechanical, and electrical drawings to follow.

Civil drawings These drawings are usually prepared by a civil engineer working with the architect and describe all items of work associated with the site. The site work includes such things as grading, demolition, excava- tion, site utilities, streets, curbs, and gutters and their details. Sometimes landscaping is also included under this section. The civil drawings are typi- cally numbered as C1, C2, C3, and so on.

Architectural drawings The architectural drawings are prepared by the architect and usually constitute the bulk of the set. They describe the over- all aesthetics of the facility, including project size, shape, and appearance. Detailed information regarding dimensions, materials, and quality are graphically depicted through the architectural drawings. The architectural work includes such things as floor plans, exterior elevations, and sections; door, window, and finish schedules; and architectural details. These draw- ings are numbered A1, A2, A3, and so on.

Structural drawings The structural drawings are prepared by a structural engineer working as a consultant to the architect. Coordination between the architecture and the structure is very important. Good synchronization here can help avoid expensive conflicts down the road during construction. The structural drawings identify the major components making up the struc- tural frame of the building, such as columns, beams, and girders. The structural engineer also provides the structural calculations, which analyze the vertical loads as well as lateral loads consisting of wind and earthquake loads. These drawings are typically numbered S1, S2, S3, and so on.

Mechanical drawings The architect will hire a mechanical engineer to prepare the mechanical drawings. The mechanical work splits between two major support components for any building—the plumbing and the heat- ing, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC). The plumbing portion of the drawings typically includes information describing the installation of water lines, sewer lines, and gas lines. The HVAC portion of the drawings covers ductwork, air handlers, compressors, and other equipment associated with climate control. Fire protection can also be included with the mechanical drawings. The mechanical engineer also provides heating and cooling cal- culations used to determine the required capacity of the heating and cooling equipment and the requisite energy compliance forms to demonstrate that the building complies with energy-efficiency requirements. The mechanical sheets are numbered M1, M2, M3, and so on.

Electrical drawings The electrical engineer, working as a consultant to the architect, prepares the electrical drawings. The electrical work includes all of the rough wiring, transformers, and panel boxes, as well as recep- tacles, switches, and light fixtures. Communications and computer wiring are also included in the electrical drawings. The electrical engineer provides calculations to determine the proper wire size, conduit size, and over-current protection device (fuse or circuit breaker) capacity. These drawings are numbered E1, E2, E3, and so on.
Although the construction manager is not expected to be an expert technician in all facets of the construction, the person must be able to interpret and understand all of the work described in the different drawings. This is no easy task, and it can take years of experience before one becomes knowledgeable in all areas.

Types of Drawings

As previously mentioned, fundamental to construction and construction man- agement is the ability to read and interpret the plans. Within every set of plans, there are specific types of drawings that help the reader obtain a better under- standing of the construction. Because so much information must be communi- cated to explain how the structure is to be built, each layer of drawings becomes more and more specific, emphasizing greater detail. There are four basic types of drawings that can be used to communicate the intent of the design and construc- tion. They are plans, elevations, sections, and details.

Plans A plan view is a horizontal “cut” or slice through the entire build- ing. Every set of construction drawings includes at least one plan view of the building. That’s why we often refer to the drawings as plans. Often there are several different plan views incorporated into the drawings. For example, foundation plans, floor plans, and framing plans are common elements of a quality set of drawings. Most plans are drawn using a 1⁄4scale, but some large buildings must be drawn at a 1 ⁄8scale in order to fit on the drawing sheet.

A 1⁄4scale means that every 1⁄4measured on the drawings represents 1in true dimension. Because there are 12 inches in a foot, the building will actually be 48 times (4 x 12) larger than the drawing itself. The architect uses a special measur- ing rule called an architect’s scale to lay out drawings.

Elevations Elevations depict what the building or structure looks like from the outside. All four sides of the building are typically shown in elevation. They are usually drawn to a 1⁄4scale, depending on the size of the project and the size of the sheet being utilized. Again, sometimes a 1 ⁄8scale might need to be employed. The elevations are often named accord- ing to which direction the exterior wall faces. The south elevation of the building is the wall that faces south.

Sections Section drawings are used to present a deeper understanding of the design at certain key spots in the plan or elevation. A section drawing represents a vertical “cut” through the building from top to bottom. There are usually several section drawings included in a set of plans. They are very helpful in trying to visualize exactly how all of the parts and pieces come together at a particular point in the structure. These drawings are often drawn using a 1⁄2scale but may need to be downsized to a 1⁄4scale if room on the sheet is limited.
Details Detail drawings depict portions of the building “blown up” in scale to help explain finer elements of the design. They are drawn very large, com- paratively speaking, utilizing 1, 11⁄2, or even 3scale. They are particularly

Review Questions

guaranteed maximum price (GMP) perspective drawing
time and materials

1. What two major components make up the contract documents? 

2. When did architects first begin to use drawings to communicate their 
design intent? 

3. What does CAD stand for? 

4. There is a particular way in which the drawings are organized in a set of drawings. Identify the order of drawings in a typical set of plans.


5. What is the difference between a plan view and a section view in a set of drawings? 

6. Name the four primary sections of a project manual. 

7. The 2004 CSI MasterFormat is broken down into how many divisions? 

8. Under which CSI division would you find building insulation? 


9. Name the four basic types of construction contracts. 

10. Under a guaranteed maximum price contract, what happens if the actual cost is less than the guaranteed maximum contract price? 




Joan really appreciated Chuck’s checklist for project phases and description of project delivery options. She is now a little confused about what ‘pricing options’ she might select for the library. (note: Pricing options can be found in Chapter 4 of the textbook and are called Contract types by the author)

Problem 1 (25 points):
Imagine again that you are Chuck. Write a memorandum to Joan which includes a ‘detailed’ explanation for Joan, which describes the various pricing options she may consider when developing a contract for the library. Insure you define each option, identity when they are most often used, and define advantages and disadvantage of each.

SCENARIO (continued)
As Joan continued working through her Owner checklist and description of the various project delivery methods she realized that the project would probably be a Design-Bid-Build type of project. She also realized that her knowledge about contracts, especially the General Conditions section of the contract, was very limited. Joan again calls Chuck, her point of contact for the CM company hired by the library board in CM agency relationship. She asks him for more explanation of this item called General Conditions and if there were any particular issues within the General Conditions that she should focus on.

PROBLEM 2 (25 points)

Imagine you are Chuck. Write a memorandum to Joan which includes the following information:

• Define the “General Conditions” of a contract.
• Identify and summarize the key provisions found in a typical General Conditions section.
• Should Joan use competitive bidding or contracts on a negotiated basis? Why?
• Describe to Joan any specific provisions she might want to study and become familiar with as she moved forward into the contracting phase of the project.
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