Friday, July 17, 2009

Alphabet Soup

(Note: please forgive the lack of recent posting--I have family visiting from out of town, and while I'm pleasantly busy with them, I'm being terribly remiss in posting. I'll return to a more regular schedule next week.)

Architecture and construction are rife with acronyms, which are rarely if ever taught in school. Not knowing what these acronyms mean can be frustrating, confusing, and embarrassing for interns. Here are a few that you'll encounter during CA.

RFI: Request For Information. Sometimes also called an RFC (Request For Clarification), this is an official question (like an "on the record" question) from the contractor in the field asking about how to do something in the drawings, a discrepancy/conflict between drawings or drawings and specs, or asking how to do something when field conditions prevent it from being done the way the architect designed it. The architect generally has seven days to answer the question, but sometimes the contractor will ask that it be answered faster because it's holding up construction. Sometimes the RFI is for an engineer. In that case, the RFI still should go through the architect on its way to the consultant and back to the contractor to make sure that the architect has a chance to check that whatever decision is being made will not affect architecture or anything other discipline.

PR: Proposal Request. A PR is a set of drawings, specs, writted direction, or a combination of those three to the contractor from the design team to indicate a change to the project. The PR is for pricing, though, not for building per se.

CO: Change Order. Once the PR is priced and its ramifications to the schedule are understood by the contractor, he/she writes up a CO to show the owner what's being done, why it needs to be done, and how much it costs. Once the owner approves the CO, the contractor can then build what the architect drew/indicated in the PR.

CCD: Construction Change Directive. I have to admit that I've never done one of these, and there's probably a good reason. A CCD is like a combination of a PR and a CO--it's the sketch/direction part of the PR and the go-build-it of the CO. The CCD doesn't go through the owner to get approved before it gets built, which leaves some architects (including those who trained me) a little queasy because it doesn't seem right to just go spend the owner's money.

ASI: Architect's Supplemental Instruction. It's like an RFI, but it's minor stuff that (supposedly) doesn't have any cost or schedule implication whatsoever. For example, the architect forgot to dimension a room on the plan or didn't mention what color plastic laminate should go on the countertops.

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